VICTORIA (February 6, 2024) – With the B.C. wine industry facing serious pressures from a recent cold weather snap that killed crops and vines, as well as an unprovoked assault on B.C. growers by the Alberta government, Kevin Falcon and BC United are calling for provincial leadership to support the province’s world-class wine sector.
“British Columbia has made a name for itself over the past two decades as the source of world-class wines. The wine industry is integral to countless communities in our province and without it, there would be devastating effects on local economies, tourism and hospitality, and so many families throughout B.C.,” said Kevin Falcon, BC United Leader. “Successive BC Liberal, now BC United, governments have nurtured the sector with supportive tax and regulatory policies and, as the sector now faces a difficult 2024 and beyond, it is vital that the current government facilitates support to ensure B.C. wine can continue to thrive for generations more.”
Following a disastrous cold weather snap that has impacted vineyards and may result in the complete loss of the 2024 vintage, many B.C. wine producers are facing the possibility of a 100 percent replant which means minimal or negligible cash flow for several years.
“We’ll only know the true impacts of the cold snap in the coming months, but everything points towards a terrible situation for B.C. wine this year. Couple that with reckless policies coming out of Alberta that seek to stop all direct-to-consumer B.C. wine sales into their province and you have a perfect storm,” added MLA Ian Paton, BC United Shadow Minister for Agriculture. “It is shocking how David Eby and the NDP have done absolutely nothing on this vital issue that impacts so many families in agriculture-dependent communities. The NDP’s deafening silence has been noted by everyone from Okanagan tourism operators to hospitality providers, to wine growers themselves. Action is long overdue.”
BC United is calling on the provincial government to:
- Immediately create an emergency working group with the B.C. wine industry and federal government to develop solutions and identify the level of financial support necessary for local wine growers and producers to survive the shortage expected to last for the next three to four years.
- Prioritize the creation of a Canadian Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) certification.
- Temporarily expand the existing tax incentives for wines with 100 percent B.C.-grown grapes to include wines produced in B.C. with 100 percent Canadian-grown grapes.
- Work with the Ontario government and Ontario wine producers to reduce any barriers to importing Ontario grapes and juice.
- Immediately schedule a meeting with Alberta Premier Danielle Smith to resolve the issue with Alberta actively harming the B.C. wine industry with no legal basis.
“The NDP government must immediately take steps to address these two crises facing B.C. wine producers before it is too late,” concluded Falcon.
John Skinner, Proprietor, Painted Rock Estate Winery –
“With our B.C. wine industry facing the extraordinary challenges that nature has hit us with, the last thing we need is a politically motivated trade threat from Alberta. We sincerely appreciate Kevin and BC United’s support of our efforts to find a peaceful and constructive solution to the trade issue.”