Okanagan Dreamin’: This Historic Theatre Is Now a Wine Bar

No blockbusters here, just some B.C. reds. 

No blockbusters here, just some B.C. reds. 

Yes, Time Winery‘s Penticton tasting room just opened last year. But, in another way, it’s been part of the Okanagan town’s downtown core for decades, thanks to the building’s former life as the PenMar Theatre.

B.C. wine industry veteran Harry McWatters moved Time to the middle of the big-city action after selling the winery’s original plot of land to Richter Bai to create the buzzy (and outrageously expensive) Phantom Creek winery—and while this change of plan probably was a lucrative one for McWatters, it was also a chance to reimagine the tasting room experience as an urban one (or as urban as Penticton gets, anyhow.)

The theatre was built in 1954 as a 60,000 square footer; a modern makeover started by the late Nick Bevanda of CEI (a Western Living magazine eco designer of the year back in 2013) and completed by HDR Inc. partially preserved the original structure and brought it up to code. But in addition to boring-but-important seismic retrofitting and the like, CEI decked the soaring space out with the industrial-cool trifecta (concrete, steel and wood) to create a sleek and simple tasting room that brings wine country to the big(ish) city.

Original fir glulam arches were uncovered during the renovation process—as was an unused floor heating system, revolutionary for the time—and highlighted in the new design. Oversized windows let in ample natural light, and more importantly, allow for people-watching opportunities.

Plunking this little jewel box onto Penticton streets is, of course, all in the service of getting Time wines into more glasses—right up at the bar or out on the patio. But it’s also a smart way to repurpose and refresh historic architecture, and a change of pace from all those majestic vine-covered hills in Oliver, finally. Plus, maybe with the high foot traffic of a downtown location, someone will finally be brave enough to ask why the logo and colours so closely match those of Time magazine. (Maybe McWatters is angling for Person of the Year?)

Time Winery

361 Martin St., Penticton, B.C.