As B.C. wines continue to be recognized for their quality and distinction, wine lovers are looking for more details to distinguish where the wine they enjoy is produced, and the B.C. government is providing those assurances.
As a follow up to the results of a B.C. wine industry plebiscite the B.C. government has updated the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation so B.C. wineries can more easily identify and promote the terroir and flavours specific to the areas where their grapes and wines are produced.
The Okanagan Valley, for example, is one of seven recognized, official geographical and sub-geographical indications in B.C. and though relatively small in terms of land size, it is huge in terms of wine geography. The valley includes unofficial growing areas like Kelowna, Naramata, and Okanagan Falls that are all known by consumers as producing great, but distinct, wines.
Geographic indications are a standard element of the various appellation systems that exist in B.C. and around the world and simultaneously help consumers identify wines in the marketplace and provide assurance to shoppers of the origin and quality of the wine. The new regulation supports the process of making official sub-geographical indications easier, and includes B.C. wine grape growers that do not produce wine, as well as wineries, in the process. The establishment of new sub-indications will continue to be overseen by the B.C. Wine Authority and require the approval of the B.C. government. British Columbia currently has one official wine sub-geographical indication, the Golden Mile Bench, which was established in March 2015.
The regulatory changes will also require wineries using a sub-geographic indication (i.e. Golden Mile Bench) on a wine label to also include the geographic indication that it is within (i.e. Okanagan Valley) on the label. In addition, the updated regulations recognize the diversity and innovation of B.C. winemakers by removing the restrictive requirement that all wines from the same geographic indicator must demonstrate the same distinctive characteristics.
The changes are the first to follow the work of the Wine Appellation Task Group, which oversaw an industry led review of the appellation system for wines produced from 100% B.C. grapes. The changes follow recommendations that received majority support from both BC Wine Authority members as well as non-members, and are supported by the B.C. Wine Institute. The Task Group’s process included the consultation of 252 licensed wineries that produce 100% B.C. wines and resulted in 11 proposals, the remaining eight of which continue to be reviewed by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Norm Letnick, Minister of Agriculture –
“As more people discover and enjoy B.C. wines locally and around the world, the demand for trusted information about our wines’ origins and makers grows. The regulatory changes support the maturity of B.C. wines in the marketplace, offer expanded opportunities for wine makers and wine tourism throughout B.C., and clearly reflect the feedback and opinions received during the extensive industry-led review and consultation process.”
Coralee Oakes, Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction and Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch –
“B.C.’s wines are world renowned and gaining a reputation for their distinct qualities on the international stage. These updated regulations reflect the growth of our province’s wine industry and will help people here at home and all over the world better identify wines from each of B.C.’s diverse wine regions.”
Miles Prodan, British Columbia Wine Institute CEO and president –
“There was strong consensus from the B.C. wine industry in supporting the task force recommendations. The task force spent many hours developing the recommendations and it is great to see the regulation updated to allow industry to continue furthering B.C.’s reputation as a premium wine producer on the international stage.”
Ezra Cipes, CEO Summerhill Pyramid Winery –
"This is great progress for the B.C. wine industry. Adding these details to B.C.'s wine map will help international markets understand the enthusiasm for our land and the beauty of our wines. The world is paying attention to B.C. wine.”
- B.C. wineries generate about $300 million in sales a year
- B.C. exported $9.3 million worth of wine to 13 international markets in 2015, with 85% ($7.9 million) destined for China.
- The B.C. Wine Institute estimates the B.C. wine industry has a $2 billion impact on B.C.’s economy, creating more than 10,000 jobs and attracting 800,000 visitors
- British Columbia Wine Institute: http://www.winebc.org/about_bcwi/regions/
- B.C. Wine Authority: http://www.bcvqa.ca/
- Golden Mile Bench News Release: https://news.gov.bc.ca/stories/golden-mile-bench-on-the-label-award-winning-okanagan-wine-in-the-bottle