Artisan Fermenters and Distillers Business Conference and Tradeshow

Wednesday, November 13, 2024


We were absolutely delighted to feature a comprehensive and relevant roster of speakers at Fortify 2023. Download a PDF version of the agenda here.

Karen GrahamKaren Graham has had roles in the Canadian wine industry since 1998, and launched WineDrops in 2015 to offer analysis and commentary on the business, policy and regulatory issues critical to the Canadian wine industry. Today, her advisory work emphasizes strategic planning and risk management for wineries and wine industry entities.

She serves as Vice Chair of the Vancouver International Wine Festival; is on the board of Business Alliance for Artisan Fermenters and Distillers; and is a founding board member of the Canadian Chapter of AIDV (International Wine Law Association).

Karen holds a Master of Arts in International Relations and a Master of Public Policy degree, and has held senior roles with the Business Council of British Columbia, Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, and the United States Consulate-General.

SESSION — Panelist, Alcohol and Health

Mark Hicken

Mark is a consultant and advisor to the liquor industry. He previously worked as a well-known wine and liquor industry lawyer. Appointed as the BC Government’s Liquor Policy Advisor 2017, Mark chaired a panel of industry stakeholder associations known as the Business Technical Advisory Panel which submitted a report to government making policy recommendations. Mark frequently speaks at industry conferences and has completed the Wine Executive Program at the University of California, Davis.

SESSION — Panelist, Alcohol and Health

Dan Malleck is a medical historian specializing in drug and alcohol regulation and policy. He is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Sciences at Brock University, the Director of Brock’s Centre for Canadian Studies, and was the editor-in-chief of the Social History of Alcohol and Drugs for over a decade. He has published widely on that topic including Try to
Control Yourself: The regulation of public drinking in post-prohibition Ontario 
(UBC Press 2012) which won the Canadian Historical Association’s 2013 Clio Prize for Ontario history; When Good Drugs go Bad: Opium, medicine, and the origins of Canada’s drug laws (UBC Press, 2015); and Liquor and the Liberal State: Drink and order before prohibition (UBC Press, 2022). He is the co-editor, with Cheryl Warsh, of Consuming Modernity: Gendered behaviour and consumerism before the baby boom (UBC Press, 2013) and Pleasure and Panic: New Essays on the history of alcohol and drugs (UBC Press 2022) and editor of the four-volume primary source collection Drugs, Alcohol, and Addiction in the Long Nineteenth Century (Routledge, 2020). He contributes to the current discussions on cannabis legalization, the opioid crisis, liquor laws, and drinking policy using historically grounded analysi to provide insight into current issues. When not writing articles for mass consumption, he is trying to complete an ever-expanding history of the pharmacy profession in Canada.

SESSION — Panelist, Alcohol and Health

Stewart Muir started Headwaters Strategy Group in 2011 to provide his unique skillset to clients facing challenging situations in the natural resource sector that required intensive application of research and action. With his background in history, business and investigative journalism during a decorated multi-decade career in Canada and abroad, Stewart brings powerful forensic tools and polished storytelling skills to his practice in Headwaters, based in downtown Vancouver. As a boutique public affairs firm, Headwaters helps clients find their true stories and then take action to build successful campaigns. Its tagline, “The Story Is In Us”, reflects a commitment to the belief that since time immemorial, stories are how people express their deepest hopes and dreams for the future. Stewart also supports the ongoing work of the Resource Works Society, which educates Canadians on the benefits of responsible natural resources. Additionally, he is a key strategic partner of the Indigenous Partnerships Success Showcase event series that will stage its 5th annual conference in June 2024.

SESSION — Panelist, Alcohol and Health

Prior to joining FCC in 2006, Desmond Sobool was a professional research associate at the University of Saskatchewan. He was also a relationship manager at another financial institution. Des earned his master of agricultural economics degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 2005.

SESSION — Finance: Navigating Your Business Through Volatile Economic Times

Vancouver-based Leeann Froese loves connecting with people — and making connections between the people she meets. She is an industry cheerleader, social media influencer, speaker, mentor and the person people call to find out what’s happening in British Columbia’s beverage industry. Leeann co-owns Town Hall Brands, running the agency and using her 25+ years of experience to consult with clients in BC and around the world on branding, brand identity and storytelling. Froese builds strategies that bring success, and she counts each of her clients’ victories as her own. When not working, she is volunteering as a member of the BC Hospitality Foundation, and the BC Chapter of Les Dames d’ Escoffier, a society of professional women supporting women in careers related to wine, food and hospitality.

SESSION — Marketing:  Quick and Budget-Friendly Marketing Ideas

Shawnee Love is the owner of LoveHR, an Okanagan based consulting practice specializing in people, culture and talent management.

Since 2009, the LoveHR team has been helping clients hire and manage their people, developing and delivering skill development training, and providing coaching, advice and creative and practical HR solutions and strategies to organizations on culture and effective people management. 

Shawnee is also well known for her speaking, training and blogging on topics relevant to business owners and leaders of teams.  She is a Certified Management Consultant, a Chartered Professional in Human Resources, an Emotional Intelligence facilitator and coach, and in 2023, she completed her Masters of Arts in studies relating to workforce innovation, leadership, and organizational culture and change. She is also a mom, outdoors enthusiast, and board member for two Okanagan based organizations.

For more information, visit or the LoveHR website

SESSION — HR:  Practice Delegation, Not Abdication

Geoff McIntyre, CPA, CA is a Partner based in MNP’s Kelowna office. AsGeoff McIntyre Leader of Food and Beverage Processing Client Service Groups for MNP’s Thompson Okanagan Region, Geoff specializes in serving the British Columbia beverage industry; currently working with winery, vineyard, cidery and craft brewery clients of varying sizes to help them achieve their goals. Geoff is also the Regional Leader of MNP’s Succession Planning services. With 25 years of public practice experience, Geoff works closely with his clients to develop tax-efficient business structures, tax-minimizing strategies and effective tax-compliance services. Geoff presents regularly at the Fortify Conference and for the past fifteen years has been a regular contributor to Orchard and Vine Magazine.

SESSION — Finance: Attacking Expenses Line by Line

Kenn Oldfield has worked in the wine industry for 25 years. Building on his degree in Chemical Engineering, he completed the coursework for a Masters in Viticulture at California’s UC Davis. Kenn was the leading partner in developing Tinhorn Creek winery from grass roots vineyard planting, through winery design and construction, to growth to 40,000 case per year production. He has an in-depth knowledge of viticulture, winemaking, process design, project management, business and financial planning and implementation, and regulatory interpretation and implementation. Kenn currently sits on the Board of other BC wineries as an independent director.

SESSION — Finance: Attacking Expenses Line by Line

Gary Brucker is a Founding Partner and Managing Partner of Barn Owl Brewing in Kelowna. In Barn Owl’s short 4-year history, they have faced a pandemic, record setting global inflation, a wildfire disaster and more. Barn Owl has survived but is continually looking for ways to thrive. Gary is excited to be a part of Fortify again this year.

SESSION — Finance: Attacking Expenses Line by Line

Starting her journey in the Okanagan Valley, Danielle Barker was learning SEO andDanielle Barker digital ad strategies before they were mainstream marketing tools and hasn’t looked back since. After relocating to Vancouver in 2010 and founding Reflect Media, Danielle continued working with agencies and businesses to develop comprehensive digital marketing strategies that improve conversions, increase sales and reach long-term business objectives. A true relationship-builder, she has collaborated with many of her clients for over a decade, and her impressive roster spans from luxury auto to hospitality and as always, the best local businesses. Despite the global brands she has worked with, Danielle’s passion lies with the little guy: you can generally find her championing the small local businesses that she believes are the foundation and character of great communities.

SESSION — Marketing: Back to Basics Breakout Session

Robin Jones is a strategic marketing consultant, fractional CMO, Executive in Residence at Accelerate Okanagan, and mentor with BC’s W Venture program. She has a Bachelor of Science
degree from Florida State University, and an MBA from Northeastern University in Boston. A career marketing executive, Robin has over 30 years’ experience building and leading marketing teams in global technology companies. In a world where the buyer’s journey is theirs to map, she is passionate about power positioning, storytelling, and finding innovative ways to engage audiences via rich content and conversation. Mother and stepmother to 4 daughters, she enjoys wake surfing, biking, cooking, entertaining friends and family, and yes…wine.

SESSIONS — HR: Options for Filling Key Roles and Marketing: The Art and Power of Storytelling

Erin Korpisto grew up in the Okanagan and, after a career in architectural design that took her to Calgary and to the UK for several years, she decided to move back to the Valley in 2009 to pursue her passion for wine. Since then, Erin has spent time in most facets of the industry: the cellar, vineyard, tasting room, outside sales, marketing, social media, communications, and management. In 2017 she received her Wine Business Management Certificate from Sonoma State University Wine Business Institute, to better prepare for the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 4 Diploma, which she completed in 2022. Erin has been a wine educator for 10 years and is a member of several industry boards and committees. She is the General Manager for Terravista Vineyards and Synchromesh Wines. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking with her rescue dog, Molly, and spending time with friends on local patios.

SESSION — HR: Options for Filling Key Roles

Alan Dickinson is an owner and winemaker of Synchromesh Wines Inc which he started with his family in 2010 alongside Alto Wine Group, one of the original contract production facilities in the Okanagan Valley. With almost 20 years in the wine industry and a background in strategic planning and collaborative business models, Alan brings a unique perspective to the agribusiness and beverage sector. Alongside other industry partners, he has recently launched both a farming cooperative and a cooperative management business focussed on the beverage sector that aims to bring economies of scale to key staffing and management roles within small and medium sized operations.

Born in Vancouver and working through the hospitality sector Alan pursued education in mechanical engineering and marketing management. He now resides with his wife and 2 boys at Synchromesh Wines in Okanagan Falls.

SESSION — HR: Options for Filling Key Roles

Danny TurnerDanny Turner is a “numbers” guy, bringing 30 years of experience as financial analyst as well as several lived experiences growing, leading and selling businesses. As the Delivery Executive for the Basin Business Advisors Team, he leads the BBA team while delivering a straightforward, analysis-based coaching experience. Danny was in California during the dot-com boom of the ’90s, in London at the start of the financial crisis of 2008, and worked in several industries across North America and Europe in between. However, his true calling is entrepreneurship.

Danny holds an MBA from the University of Oxford. He was a management consultant at Deloitte between successful runs at starting and selling companies. In 2016 he retired to run his family farm, Just-A-Mere Organic Farm in Creston. He volunteers on several boards and is the past chairperson of Fields Forward, a Creston Valley horticultural society that operates the Provincial Food Hub in Creston. An entrepreneur at heart, Danny enjoys sharing his experiences and employing an always-learning philosophy as he assists all stage companies through his roles with the Columbia Basin Trust-funded Basin Business Advisors and Basin RevUp Programs.

SESSION — Finance: Finding Opportunity in Catastrophe

Valerie Lister is a certified PH&S Advisor who is passionate about increasing awareness and fighting stigma surrounding mental illness in the workplace. She has a wealth of experience in developing and implementing psychological health and safety policies, practices and procedures within a large international organization. She also has a rich background and education in occupational health and safety, nursing and counselling. Seeing the positive ripple effects generated by the work we do in the workplace mental health and PH&S space is what fuels her passion.

Session — HR: Taking the Lead

Terry Bertram is an OHS Consultant with WorkSafeBC’s Consultation and Education Services team. In this role, he supports a group of industries and engages with industry associations, labour organizations, and other stakeholders to proactively improve the health and safety culture in B.C. Prior to joining WorkSafeBC in 2019, Terry had over 20 years’ experience in occupational health & safety in both private industry and the non-profit sector. He is passionate about creating healthy and safe places to work, learn, and play.

Session — HR: Taking the Lead

Dugald Smith, former Deputy General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, has joined Rising Tide Consultants as a Senior Licensing Consultant.


Before joining the LCRB, Dugald worked as an Executive Director with the Ministry of  Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, where he played a key role in negotiating various agreements with First Nations, including the Maa nutlh and T’lamin treaties. 


With the LCRB over the past six years, Dugald has held several leadership roles, including Deputy General Manager of Licensing and Executive Director responsible for Programs and Strategy. He also was the Project Director on the development of the Cannabis Retail Store licensing framework, leading the implementation of the regulatory, policy and operational programs.


Dugald has significant senior experience in liquor policy and licensing operations at an executive level and brings unique insights into the legal cannabis industry, regulatory challenges and opportunities this industry faces. His formal education includes a Bachelor of Science and a Certificate in Business and Management.


SESSION — Moderator, Alcohol and Health


Wine Night

Curious, analytical and data-driven with 30+ years’ business management experience — creative business and insights Specialist, Paul Rickett keeps a consistent finger on the pulse of constantly evolving industry trends, empowering teams to create unique, effective solutions. He is dedicated to supporting a collaborative, informed decision-making process, a long-time advocate and champion of BC’s wine industry, and has published many reports on industry metrics and consulted on distribution channel strategies. Well known in the industry for workshops on channel management, a frequent presenter at wine industry events, he was a longstanding successful retailer of BC wines. Originally qualifying as an accountant, Paul has a deep background in finance, operations, and sales and marketing.

Session: Measuring Reputation

Randy Brown’s expertise and passion for the hospitality and manufacturing sector, focuses not only on the big picture, but helping manufacturers navigate the complex regulatory framework in British Columbia. In 2020, Randy created his own Liquor Licensing and Compliance agency (Brown Beverage Consulting) after a long career with the Federal, Provincial and Municipal Governments. He uses his extensive, deep expertise and skills to assist his clients in the liquor manufacturing sector industry navigate a dynamic and ever-changing liquor regulatory regime. Randy’s goal and work philosophy has always been to create meaningful partnerships with manufacturers, industry associations and regulatory agencies in government. He is known for being a collaborator and business consultant and tis described as having the very unique combination of ‘entrepreneur and regulatory expert.’ He has an unwavering focus on client-service and finds creative solutions to difficult challenges! Randy believes that it’s not about an adversarial approach toward regulators, but instead a collaborative and forward-thinking one! Creativity is key!

Session: SWOT Analysis for the BC Wine Industry

Al Hudec is a prominent legal advisor to the BC wine industry, advising on purchase and sale transactions and regulatory matters. Al is an M&A and Corporate Governance practitioner with 40 years of experience in all legal aspects of securities and corporate finance, including mergers & acquisitions, corporate governance and independent committee representation, with emphasis on the North American resource (mining, forestry, oil and gas), infrastructure, and technology industries. His practice focuses on cross-border mergers & acquisitions (take-overs and arrangements), board and special/independent committee representation and venture capital financings. Al writes and speaks frequently on a variety of legal topics relating to wine law, aboriginal law, corporate finance and corporate governance.

Session: SWOT Analysis for the BC Wine Industry

The pre-conference wine night takes place on November 14, beginning at 5:30pm at OROLO Restaurant at Time Winery in downtown Penticton. Space is limited.