The BC Wine Institute had reason to celebrate on Tuesday when it held its annual general meeting at Kelowna’s Manteo Resort.
“It was a special time for us this year because it’s an all-time high of BC VQA wine sold in the B.C. market,” BCWI president and CEO Miles Prodan said. “So 19.25 per cent, which is the lion’s share of any other country, really embraces or talks about B.C. support for B.C. wine.”
The 19.25 per cent market share represented a three and a half per cent increase from the previous 12 months.
“It speaks to the quality of product that we’re delivering,” Prodan said. “It also talks to the buy B.C. initiatives, and it’s really about the consumer embracing it. We’re lucky here in B.C.
“I know when I talk to our counterparts in Ontario, where they product 100 per cent Ontario wine, they don’t enjoy anywhere near that kind of market share.”
One of the reasons B.C. wines are doing so well in the province is because of its placement in grocery stores—most notably Save-On-Foods. That is why Save-On president Darrell Jones was one of two Industry Recognition Award winners on Tuesday night. The other recipient was outgoing B.C. Wine Authority chair Jeffrey Thomas.
The Award of Distinction was split between two pioneers in the vineyard business, Robert Goltz and Dick Cleave, who are renowned for producing some of the province’s top grapes.
Meanwhile, the BCWI’s ongoing fight with provinces that don’t allow direct-to-consumer sales continues even as premiers discuss the topic at their meeting in Saskatchewan this week. The federal government has removed itself from the discussion.
“Now it’s up to the provinces,” Prodan said. “We just think it’s time to be able to share our B.C. product with other Canadians, and it doesn’t make sense that we’re not allowed to. There are some provinces that continue to be problematic for us, and I’ll call them out. It’s Alberta and Ontario. If we had access to those markets, we’d do very, very well.
“Wine and grocery is a great plus for us, but really it’s limited. We don’t have wine in every grocery store in B.C., nor will we ever. So direct consumer access is fundamental to what we need to succeed.”
As for this year’s crop in the Okanagan, Prodan said “it’s been a little bit wet, but the grapes are looking good.”
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