B.C. wine labels to get get more specific

The government will allow the identification of sub-regions on B.C. wine bottle labels.

B.C's Agriculture Minister Norm Letnick

Drinkers of B.C. wine may soon get to know where the vino they sip comes from within the region now sported on the label

The B.C. government has changed the rules governing the labelling of wine in this province and with the approval of the B.C. Wine Authority, sub-regions will now be allowed to be identified.

The move, announced Thursday in Kelowna, and one of a 11 recommendations of a wine industry task force set up last year, will allow for the identification and promotion of the terroir and flavours specific to areas where the grapes and wine in question were grown and produced.

“This is a game changer,” said Kelowna-Lake County MLA Norm Letnick, who is also B.C.’s agriculture minister.

“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,” he added while making the announcement at Kelowna’s Summerhill Winery.

He said the regulatory change supports the maturity of B.C. wines in the marketplace, offers expanded opportunities for wine makers and wine tourism throughout B.C., and clearly reflects the feedback and opinions received during what he described as an extensive industry-led review and consultation process by the task force.

Miles Prodan, CEO of the B.C. Wine Institute, said there was a strong consensus in the wine industry in support of the change, adding he hopes to see the rest of the task force recommendations also approved by the province as soon as as possible.

Currently, there are five broad wine regions in B.C. identified on labels— the Okanagan Valley, the Similkameen Valley, the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands.

Once approved by the wine authority, sub-regions will be able to identify themselves on wine bottle labels. The first, which came into effect before Thursday’s announcement, is the area between Oliver and Osoyoos known as the “Golden Mile.” It contains 10 wineries.

“This is great progress for the B.C. wine industry,” said Ezra Cipes of Summerhill Winery, who chaired the task force.

“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 and last year exported $9.3 million worth of wine to 13 international markets. An estimated 85 per cent of that went to China.

The B.C. Wine Institute estimates the provincial wine industry has a $2 billion impact on the B.C. economy, creating 10,000 jobs and attracting 800,000 visitors.


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