WORKING FOR YOU
Through collaborative advocacy, the BCWI represents the BC wine industry’s interests to government. We work with other industry stakeholders to establish direction on regulatory policy and other issues. We give government and specific ministries the information they need to formulate regulatory policies that create a healthy business climate for our members.
Our advocacy work is led by our President & CEO, Miles Prodan.
FY21 PRIORITY INITIATIVES
- British Columbia and federal governments will maintain current industry support programs
- Through BC Wine Institute advocacy efforts for government support (see link), 100% BC grape wine market share will increase by 10% annually; to reach 28% by Fiscal 2025
- The BC Wine Authority (BCWA) plebiscite process, and implementation of its results, will continue to be advocated for and supported
- All levels of government will be advocated to protect the BC wine industry in trade policies and challenges
- Interprovincial barriers to direct-to-consumer wine sales will be removed, with focus on Alberta, Ontario and Quebec
June 22, 2020
BCWI CEO UPDATE
Hospitality Wholesale Update
The BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) is extending its price change submission deadline for Period 5 (August) from June 19 to June 24 with the price change/s taking effect on August 2nd.
Vendors, agents and manufacturers now have until 5PM on June 24th, 2020 to make any changes to their wholesale price for Period 5/August.
The BCLDB’s hospitality customers will be able to purchase liquor at the wholesale price, including from manufacturers who sell direct to hospitality customers (bars, restaurants, hotels, etc.), beginning July 20, 2020. This temporary regulatory change – which will be in effect until March 31, 2021 – was approved to provide support to the liquor and hospitality operators significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
For more information on price change schedules please contact the BCLDB.
REMINDER: BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) Extension of Manufacturer Licenses
Licensees, including manufacturers, whose licence expires between March 31, 2020 and June 30, 2020, and who find themselves in financial need, may request a licence extension to September 30, 2020 by contacting the LCRB.
If your licence expired between March 31, 2020 and April 30, 2020 and has been renewed, but you find yourself in financial need, please contact the branch.
Please read the full LCRB update for more details.
June 16, 2020
BCWI CEO UPDATE
Hospitality Wholesale Update
The Province has announced temporary wholesale pricing allowing hospitality liquor licensees (e.g. restaurants, bars and licensed tourism operators) to purchase beer, wine and spirits at BC Liquor Stores (BCLS) and pay only the wholesale price – not the current wholesale price, plus a retail mark-up (estimated to be approx. 20%) set by the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB).
The measure is meant to provide financial support for hospitality businesses in their COVID-19 recovery and will be in place from the end of July 2020 until March 31, 2021, when the program will be reviewed. See official announcement.
The BCLDB has confirmed the changes will take six to 12 weeks to complete, in two phases:
- By July 20, hospitality customers will be able to buy liquor through the BCLS at the wholesale price.
- Suppliers, manufacturers and agents that direct deliver to hospitality customers will also have to change their pricing model to sell at wholesale price.
- By September 1, hospitality customers will have access to the wholesale price list made available via an online hospitality portal.
IMPORTANT: Manufacturers deadline for making August (Period 5) wholesale price changes is this Friday, June 19th.
In addition to COVID-19 recovery changes to the hospitality pricing model, government is considering other measures identified by the Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP), including permitting manufacturers to deliver to consumers from off-site storage locations.
BC Wine Authority (BCWA) Plebiscite Survey
The BCWA is asking for feedback from members on issues brought forward from the Wine Industry Advisory Committee (WIAC), specifically:
- Alternative Packaging for BC VQA (e.g. kegs, bag-in-box, cans, etc.)
- Updates to Permitted Grape Varieties
- Permitted Grape Varieties for BC VQA Aromatic Sparkling Wines
- Update Definitions / Methods for Sparkling Wines
Recognizing the new competitive environment, the BC Wine Institute (BCWI) recently updated the BCWI Wine Store agreements (purchase model) to allow the sale of limited quantities of non-BC VQA 100% BC wine that could include alternative packaging. Updating the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation to allow for BC VQA in alternative packaging would recognize the evolution in packaging and changes in consumer demand.
June 11, 2020
BCWI CEO INDUSTRY STATEMENT
The Time For Change is Now
These are challenging times. As we begin to recover and carefully and thoughtfully reopen from a devastating global pandemic, we are faced with another world issue, one of injustice and inequality. Right now, many are grieving, angry and frustrated, taking to the streets to speak out against a history of inequality that can no longer be ignored.
Our thoughts are with the families impacted and communities disrupted by senseless acts of racism, violence and injustice. People being treated differently on account of their race is unacceptable, and simply cannot be tolerated.
As an industry that is first and foremost farmers and stewards of the land, we celebrate diversity and welcome the inclusivity of others who share our love of Mother Earth and the responsibility to its sustainability for future generations.
We have long prided ourselves in providing a safe and welcoming workplace, a decent wage and benefits to our employees, regardless of their background, gender or where in the world they come from. We now have an opportunity to better listen, to learn and to strengthen those efforts going forward and attempt to make our industry more just, and fair.
Clearly the time for change has arrived, and change requires action by all of us. Just as we have changed the way we live our day to day lives to ensure the health and safety of our families and communities, so can we change how we show up in the world. To be better, to do better, and most of all, to drive sustainable change.
We have heard from our community, and although we may not have all the answers today, we do believe that every single step forward is a step towards change for the better. We must work together to create a future in which racial and gender inequality is eliminated, and we continue to embrace diversity, inclusivity and equal rights for all.
We can be better as an industry, as an organization, as a community and as global citizens. Let’s continue to work together to ensure we’re doing just that.
June 1, 2020
BCWI Fiscal 2021 Q1 Member Dues
BCWI Fiscal 2021 Q1 Member dues will be sent out shortly and will include a COVID-19 Relief Adjustment.
The adjustment is the result of COVID-related reductions to the FY21 Q1 BCWI budget (e.g. cancellation and/or savings in the move to virtual events, temporary staff layoffs, etc.). The board felt a decrease in members’ dues best applied this quarter considering the pandemic’s impact on our industry. Distribution of the adjustment is weighted accordingly to a percentage of winery contribution to the total.
The quarterly dues amount (prior to the adjustment) is based on the recent BCWI membership dues and commission structure review that concluded it fair and equitable to continue based on $.10 /litre of 100% BC grape wine reported sold in the province. Also, as a result of the review, the board determined to base reported litres sold in BC on the full previous fiscal year in the planning cycle, not rolling six months, to ensure certainty for member and BCWI fiscal budgeting.
As a result, the quarterly due amount in your BCWI Fiscal 2021 Q1 Member dues invoice reflects a quarter of your FY2018-2019 reported litres sold in BC and will remain constant for the remainder of this year’s quarterly dues. We will continue to monitor COVID-19 effects on the budget each quarter to determine the practicality of further COVID-19 Relief Adjustments.
On behalf of the BCWI board and staff, we recognize the tremendous challenge COVID-19 has had on our industry and that this quarter’s COVID-19 Relief Adjustment may not fully compensate its impact.
At the same time, the we believe the BCWI has proven our versatility and resourcefulness in pivoting from the BCWI FY21 Operational Plan to continue to deliver quality and effective marketing, communications and advocacy programming that justifies your continued voluntary participation in the organization during these times of uncertainty.
BCWI Toolkit: Ready to Reopen
The BC Wine Institute has developed a Ready to Reopen Toolkit to provide member wineries with reopening best practices, key messages, templates, checklists, social media guidelines and other key resources to help ensure a smooth and safe reopening of your winery.
As a reminder, WorkSafeBC requires all employers to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that outlines the policies, guidelines and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission posted at the worksite.
For more information please refer to the Ready to Reopen Winery & Hospitality Best Practices document and Winery Checklist both found in the Ready to Reopen Toolkit.
May 20, 2020
BCWI CEO UPDATE
Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) Temporary Expanded Service Area Authorization
Government announced today support of BC’s hospitality sector by temporarily authorizing the expansion of service areas, such as patios, lounges and tasting rooms. This change is meant to help support physical-distancing requirements and industry recovery during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The LCRB will now permit wineries to apply through a simplified online process to temporarily expand their service areas. Applications will be reviewed in the order they are received using an expedited approval process for faster processing times. While there will not be a site inspection prior to approval of the permit, inspectors will conduct regular compliance inspections.
The temporary authorizations (until October 31, 2020) are focused on expanding a licensed service area’s footprint only and will not permit an increase in an establishment’s overall occupancy. Licensees must comply with all local bylaws, and liquor-primary and manufacturer licensees must also receive the approval of their local government.
The BC Wine Institute (BCWI) recognizes this positive change is in direct response to the advocacy work of the Business Technical Advisory Panel, including the BCWI and our industry partners the BC Restaurant & Foodservices Association, BC Craft Brewers Guild, Craft Distillers Guild of BC and ABLE BC. The BCWI greatly appreciates the ongoing work of Attorney General David Eby, his staff and the LCRB to support our industry in this time of crisis.
For more information:
- BC Government News Release
- LCRB Policy Directive: Temporary Expanded Service Area Authorization
- Apply for a temporary service expansion
- Updated Terms and Conditions Handbooks
BC Wine Institute (BCWI) Reopening Tasting Rooms and Hospitality Recommendations Webinar
During a live webinar today, the BCWI provided an overview of the draft Reopening Tasting Rooms and Hospitality Recommendations for the BC wine industry. Watch replay video.
The recommendations are the culmination of a review of best practices of wine regions from across North America as well as feedback from 60 industry stakeholders taking part in the May 14, 2020 BC Wine Industry Reopening Workshop.
Access the BCWI Reopening Tasting Rooms & Hospitality Recommendations working document here.
May 20, 2020
BCWI CEO UPDATE
BC Wine Industry COVID-19 Update
On Saturday, May 16th, the BC Provincial Health Officer posted a new health order that permits the reopening of restaurants, certain liquor primaries and manufacturer tasting rooms (capacity limits to be confirmed), all effective Tuesday, May 19th, with restrictions on operations and capacity.
There are some differences between the different categories, but the significant restrictions contained in the reopening order include:
- Must create two-metre separation between patrons who are not in the same party
- Maximum of six customers per table
- Maximum 50% of usual capacity (not applicable to tasting room/lounges)
- No events at an establishment that includes more than 50 people (I read this as per event, not as an overall capacity maximum)
- Overall capacity maximum of 50 people for tasting room/lounges
- If practical, maintain contact information of patrons for contact tracing purposes
As anticipated, Sunday, May 17th, an additional order was posted that requires that ALL BC employers (i.e. all businesses with staff) create and post (including on your website) a COVID-19 workplace safety plan (see WorkSafeBC Guidelines).
BC Wine Institute (BCWI) Reopening Tasting Rooms and Hospitality Guidelines Webinar
With input into WorkSafeBC’s guidelines for restaurants, cafés and pubs, the BCWI has engaged industry stakeholders in a constructive dialogue around reopening guidelines, and ultimately best practices, specific to the BC wine industry. Please register to join us on Friday, May 22nd at 10:00 AM to review the recommended guidelines.
BCWI: Business Technical Advisory Panel
As a member of the Business Technical Advisory Panel, the BCWI supports the Panel’s COVID-19 Response Recommendations for our industry to government including:
- extend tasting room and sales licensing areas to site-wide coverage
- permit manufacturers to deliver direct-to-consumer from registered off-site storage locations
fast-track structural change licensing applications (e.g. patios, etc.)
May 15, 2020
BCWI CEO UPDATE
BC Wine Industry COVID-19 Update
Earlier today, WorkSafeBC reopening protocols and guidelines were released for restaurants, cafes and pubs. While not specifically mentioned in the guidelines, the BC Wine Institute (BCWI) has confirmed with WorkSafeBC that the guidelines apply to BC wineries licensed to serve liquor in their own lounges or tasting rooms.
Note the new WorkSafeBC protocols do not reference a specific reopening date. While the Provincial Health Officer Order from March 20, 2020 must be officially rescinded, BCWI is working to confirm the anticipated May 19 reopening date and will provide updates as soon as possible.
BCWI’s Reopening Tasting Rooms and Hospitality Recommendations will be released next week to offer greater details to BC wineries. In the meantime, and as reference, please find a link to Ontario’s Safe and Welcome in Wine Country Guidelines for Winery Hospitality.
May 13, 2020
BCWI CEO UPDATE
BC Wine Industry COVID-19 Update
- Effective March 20, 2020 (until May 30, 2020), the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) ordered that premises licensed to sell liquor (e.g. restaurants, bars, pubs, etc.) must close;
- Manufacturers (e.g. breweries, wineries and distilleries) that are licensed to serve liquor in their lounges or “dedicated sampling area” (e.g. tasting room) were also no longer permitted to do so. However, they could continue to manufacture and sell liquor from their on-site stores.
BC’s Restart Plan
- May 6, BC Premier Horgan released BC’s Restart Plan: a four-phased approach to reopening businesses and the province;
- In anticipation, the BCWI provided input to the government-requested BC Restaurant & Food Service (BCRFA) best practices for operators timed for the reopening of in-restaurant dining
- The BCRFA plan is currently under review by WorkSafeBC for suggested controls for restaurants, including manufacturer’s lounges, patios, etc. to be released before Phase 2 – May 19;
- While not explicitly contained in the BCRFA recommendations, the BCWI has confirmed with WorkSafeBC that the controls will apply to a BC winery manufacturer license “dedicated sampling area” (tasting room).
- In addition to providing suggested restaurant controls for reopening, WorkSafeBC is asking workers, employers and industry associations to ensure manufacturing workplaces remain healthy and safe during and post the COVID-19 outbreak;
- Before resuming operations following COVID-19 related work stoppages or interruptions, employers need to develop a plan to minimize the risk of COVID-19 appropriately following WorkSafeBC’s returning to safe operation guidelines;
- During a WorkSafeBC inspection, they will ask employers about the steps they have taken to protect their workers.
- In addition to input to the BCRFA recommendations, the BCWI has identified BC winery-specific best practices recommendations and will require BC LCRB Terms and Conditions and municipal permitting changes (e.g. extend tasting room and sales licensing areas to site-wide coverage);
- Other winery-specific recommendations provide an opportunity to bring together the spirit of innovative and industry-wide thinking to raise the bar for health and safety to build upon our industry-leading standards in customer experience and engagement;
- Accordingly, the BCWI is ensuring industry stakeholders are engaged in a constructive dialogue around what the phases of reopening, and ultimately best practices, looks like.
- As they were in the PHO March 20 order to close, BC winery licensed restaurants, lounges, patio areas and “dedicated sampling area” (e.g. tasting room) are expected to open Phase 2 – May 19; provided they meet the yet to be released WorkSafeBC’s suggested restaurant controls;
- In the meantime, wineries need to develop a plan to minimize the risk of COVID-19 appropriately following WorkSafeBC’s returning to safe operation guidelines;
- In addition to WorkSafeBC’s suggested restaurant controls, the BCWI is working with industry to develop winery hospitality best practice recommendations for WorkSafeBC review and implementation ASAP;
Additionally, the BCWI continues to work with government for the necessary regulatory changes to implement these recommendations properly.
May 1, 2020
BCWI CEO UPDATE
Roadmap and Best Practices in Reopening the BC Wine Industry
After weeks of intense reaction to COVID-19, the BCWI is looking towards the recovery phase, and bringing together stakeholders, operators and industry representatives with the goal of building best practices in advance of the pending reopening of BC wineries.
Recognizing post-COVID winery workplace and hospitality practices may never return to ‘normal’, there is an opportunity to bring together the spirit of innovative and industry-wide thinking in setting out practical processes that raise the bar for health and safety, and build upon our industry-leading standards in customer experience and engagement. At the core of the process will be ensuring that as stakeholders in industry we are engaged with government in a constructive dialogue around what the phases of reopening, and ultimately best practices, looks like and will include: tasting-by-reservation model; outdoor tasting areas; merchandising and product displays and sales protocols, etc.
While an ultimate reopening date has yet to be confirmed, the BCWI is committed to gathering stakeholder input with a final recommendation completed over the next two weeks. Though industry-wide participation is the preference, given the timeline and quick turnaround, initial stakeholder engagement will be drawn from directors of the various industry groups and associations from around the province.
Direct-to-Consumer Delivery from Registered Offsite Storage
As BC’s winery sales have been severely impacted with the closure of restaurants and hotels along with tasting rooms due to COVID-19 protocols, many are trying to make up revenue shortfalls by increasing their direct-to-consumer efforts. Accordingly, the BCWI has asked government to allow deliveries from a manufacturer’s registered offsite storage to help speed delivery times and control costs. Specifically, relaxation of the clause in the Liquor Manufacturing Terms and Conditions, “You may deliver from your retail store only. You cannot deliver from your registered offsite storage”, that restricts wineries from picking, packing and shipping from registered offsite storage to people legally able to purchase liquor.
Frustrating the request is the reported practice of wineries creating a ‘pop-up’ offsite storage facility for third-party delivery without BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch approval. As a result, the branch is having to take valuable time away from providing an industry-wide solution to deal with these illegal entities.
Update: Ontario Inter-provincial Direct-to-Customer (DTC) Wine Shipping
The Ontario provincial regulation closing the loophole created with the June 2019 removal of the federal prohibition to continue to make it illegal for Ontario consumers to import wine directly from wineries in other provinces was scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2020. However, late last year, Ontario extended the regulation prohibiting inter-provincial shipment of alcohol to July 1, 2020. Therefore, while it remains illegal (as it always has) to ship wine directly to an Ontario customer, we look forward to the regulation being repealed. In the meantime, we are aware that there may be BC wineries that do so regardless and assume they have analyzed the risk.
The BCWI continues to coordinate with Wine Growers Canada in advocating ALL provinces to allow for DTC shipping of Canadian wine with COVID-19 providing a vivid example of the impact such restrictions have on Canadian business
April 27, 2020
BC Wine Institute (BCWI) Wine Store Update
April 1, 2020 celebrated the 5th anniversary of the sale of BC wine on grocery store shelves with Save-On-Foods (SOF), the first retailer to offer wine sales that same day. Since that time, BCWI Wine Store licenses have transitioned from stand-alone operators to today’s 19 of the BCWI’s 21 licenses currently operated by Save-On-Foods throughout the province.
The other two licenses continue to be operated by the BC Wine Information Centre in Penticton and Swirl Wine Store, Vancouver. Swirl’s last remaining consignment operating agreement expires September 2020 with the BCWI exploring options to maximize the value of the license for members.
In addition to providing previous operators the opportunity to sell their business (not the licenses as they are issued exclusively to the BCWI) the transition to grocery has provided wineries expanded retail access with SOF offering over 1,200 SKUs from over 150 wineries today.
Over the same five years, annual sales through the 21 BCWI Wine Stores has increased from $18,823,974 in 2014 to $27,984,052 in 2019 with the average retail, excluding tax, price/bottle going from $18.00 to $20.30 respectfully.
The same government policy that allowed BCWI Wine Stores to relocate to grocery, also created 10 Special Wine Store (SWS) licenses. These licenses were for 100% BC wines (including cider, fruit, etc.) on grocery store shelves and were auctioned off to the highest bidder.
Recognizing the new competitive environment, the BCWI board voted recently in favour of updating the BCWI Wine Store agreements (purchase model) to allow the sale of limited quantities of non-BC VQA 100% BC wine.
In making their decision, the BCWI board acknowledged SOF continued commitment to 100% BC wine and that with the ability to now offer 100% BC non-grape wine (e.g. cider, etc.) they could meet customer demand for alternative product and allow them to keep competitive in the market.
The BCWI cautioned that as ‘new’ licenses, they had the potential of instigating a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement procedure. At the same time, they issued the SWS licenses, government also removed the BC VQA-only restriction on the BCWI Wine Store licenses for compatibility.
As anticipated, the US launched a WTO dispute against government policy of restricting on grocery store shelves to BC only. In a side-letter agreement to the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) (North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) 2.0), the US agreed to drop the WTO dispute in exchange for BC allowing imported wine sales on grocery store shelves, which the province announced July 2019. As a result, in addition to 100% BC non-grape wine (e.g. cider, fruit wine, sake) some SWS stores have expanded to include non-100% BC wine. SOF has repeatedly and publicly confirmed their commitment to 100% BC.
While taking effect immediately, the BCWI and SOF are in the process of updating the BCWI operating agreement to reflect the change to include 100% BC wine, as well as steps for the initial limited store roll-out and the steps for managing the appropriate product mix process, etc. annually.
BCWI Wine Stores have been exclusively BC VQA-only wine since their inception, why the change now?
BCWI Wine Stores pre-date the original 1993 NAFTA agreement and were grandfathered at that time. They continue to be grandfathered in the new USMCA, recognizing their role in supporting the BC wine industry. With the 2015 expansion of liquor into grocery, the retail landscape has changed significantly with many options now available to consumers. Keeping our stores BC VQA restricts their ability to compete and impacts their effectiveness for selling 100% BC wine.
Even with the BCWI expanding the offering to 100% BC wine, what stops SOF from also selling import wine?
While the July 2019 government policy removed the restriction to 100% BC wine-only for grocery store shelves, SOF has repeatedly and publicly confirmed their commitment to 100% BC.
Moreover, it is the BCWI and SOF view that no import wine can force a retailer to carry a wine as it is a private-sector business decision on what product is offered for sale. Finally, the BCWI operating agreement originally stipulated BC VQA-only (now BCWI-board approved amendment to include 100% BC wine) and any additional changes cannot be made unilaterally and require similar BCWI approval.
Won’t including 100% BC non-BC VQA wine (e.g. cider) mean less shelf space for BC VQA wine?
The rationale for the decision to allow 100% BC non-BC VQA wine for sale was to allow BCWI Wine Stores the flexibility to offer other products in order to meet consumers needs and remain competitive.
The BCWI agreement that governs how a store can operate the BCWI Wine Store license includes assurances that BCWI member wine will be made available for sale. Furthermore, the BCWI and SOF mutually agree annually, under the agreement’s Annual Marketing and Merchandising Plan (AAMP), to include 100% BC non-BC VQA wine amount, shelving space, shelving configurations and storage requirements to ensure the right product mix is maintained each year.
In addition to now allowing BCWI Wine Stores to sell 100% BC non-BC VQA wines, what other products could there be?
Because BC VQA does not currently recognize packaging other than bottles, by removing the BC VQA-only restriction means alternative packaging (i.e. cans, bag-in-box, etc.), provided they are 100% BC, could also be made available for sale in a BCWI Wine Store.
What will the commission be for 100% BC non-BC VQA sold through a BCWI Wine Store?
All 100% BC wines purchased by a BCWI Wine Store operator will deduct and remit to the BCWI 5% of the wholesale price for purchased wines of BCWI members and 20% for non-members.
Current BCWI Bylaws requires members to be “a winery that produces 100% BC grape wine”, meaning an exclusive cider, fruit, etc. winery cannot currently be a BCWI member.
April 7, 2020
New Liquor Policy Directive: Extension of Store and Delivery Hours for Liquor Retail Outlets
As a result of the BC Wine Institute’s (BCWI) coordinated efforts through the Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP), effective April 3, 2020, the Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) is temporarily extending the hours of liquor service for Licensee Retail Stores, Wine Stores and Special Wine Stores, and Manufacturer Onsite Store endorsements to no earlier than 7:00 AM and end no later than 11:00 PM.
These optional extended hours are intended to assist retailers in implementing the Provincial Health Officer’s recommendations, including social distancing and providing early shopping hours for seniors and the vulnerable population. The LCRB is also authorizing delivery services to purchase liquor on behalf of a customer from a liquor store or from any licensee authorized to sell in unopened containers, and deliver and sell that liquor to a customer, provided the delivery does not take place between 11:30 PM and 7:00 AM.
This new policy is effective immediately and is in effect until July 15, 2020. Licensees do not need to apply to change their hours of sale.
Please review the Terms and Conditions Handbooks for more information:
• Licensee Retail Store Terms and Conditions (see page 14)
• Manufacturers Terms and Conditions (see page 18)
• Wine Stores Terms and Conditions (see page 16)
Updated Overview of Federal and Provincial Government Support
BCWI auditor Grant Thornton has a comprehensive online overview of federal and provincial government support. The website provides updates to guiding businesses through Coronavirus (COVID-19) including what government measures impact businesses, changes to employment and labour, and provides links to find more information. Click here.
Western Agriculture Labour Initiative (WALI) Update: Estimated timeline for Mexico workers through the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program (SWAP)
The situation in Mexico and Canada is constantly evolving, so many factors are still unforeseeable. Sign up for ongoing updates including the latest update.
BC Wine Institute (BCWI) Communications, Marketing & Advocacy Update Webinar
Please join us Thursday April, 16 at 10:00 AM for a BCWI industry update webinar on COVID-19 initiatives with a special keynote address from Honourable Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture. Click to register.
March 26, 2020
URGENT COVID-19 UPDATE
BC Wineries and Liquor Industry Defined as Essential Service
Earlier today Premier John Horgan and Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth announced British Columbia’s next steps to support the COVID-19 response.
A summary of the ministerial orders can be found here.
Included in BC’s list of essential services:
• Food processing, manufacturing, storage and distribution of foods, feed products and beverages
• Liquor retail
• Restaurants and other facilities that prepare and serve food, if operating under rules for social and physical distancing or other recommendations from the Provincial Health Officer
• Hotels and places of accommodation
• Cannabis retail and cannabis producers
Find the full list of essential services at the bottom of the government news release (under Backgrounders).
March 25, 2020
With the COVID-19 outbreak evolving rapidly, the BC Wine Institute (BCWI) will provide ongoing updates via the following dedicated website.
The latest update includes a link to the recent BCWI webinar update on efforts and plans in response to COVID-19 that featured Advocacy, Communications and Marketing initiatives.
Pending BC Non-Essential Business Closure
Tuesday, March 24, Quebec and Ontario both ordered the closure of all non-essential workplaces. Ontario’s list of essential services to remain open during the closure include:
• Businesses that farm, harvest, process, manufacture, produce or distribute food, including beverages, crops, animal products and by-products, aquaculture, hunting and fishing
• Beer, wine and liquor stores and alcohol producers, and stores that sell beer and wine through arrangements with authorized providers; cannabis stores and cannabis producers
• Restaurants and other food facilities that prepare and serve food, but only for delivery or takeaway, together with food delivery services
As of Monday, March 23, Premier Horgan stated BC currently has no plans to implement a provincial shutdown of services, including no plans to close liquor stores. In the meantime, the BCWI is doing everything we can to deem BC wineries as essential, with liquor stores and other liquor licensees to remain open when the BC government orders the closure of all non-essential businesses.
We have been in contact with Agriculture Minister, the Attorney General and offices of the Premier and Prime Minister to request that similar to any agriculture enterprise whereby cultivation, processing and distribution would be considered an essential service, BC wineries be recognized as the same in order to preserve production and inventory. We’ve also reiterated that just as important to the BC wine industry is the maintenance of the supply chain and liquor retail channels across the province, specifically direct from the winery sales either in person or through direct delivery.
Wine Growers Canada (WGC) and Regional Associations WGC COVID-19 Task Group
Wine Growers Canada, the British Columbia Wine Institute, the Winery Association of Nova Scotia and the Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario have teamed up to create the Wine Growers Canada COVID-19 Task Group. The task group will have weekly calls to ensure associations are up-to-date on what work is being done in each region to support our respected members. The regions and WGC will be sharing key messaging and resources to ensure we work together to get the industry through this global health crisis.
Federal Support for Farmers and Agri-Food Businesses
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Farm Credit Canada (FCC) will receive support from the Government of Canada that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses and food processors. This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cash flow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time. FFC ensured Wine Growers Canada that the wine industry is eligible, but on a case-by-case basis, as is the case for all agribusinesses looking for support.
In addition, Trudeau announced that all eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan. The Stay of Default will provide farmers the flexibility they need to manage their cash flow when facing lower prices or reduced marketing opportunities. Applicable farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021, as long as their total APP advances remain under the $1 million cap. Learn more.
March 17, 2020
In response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 updates, the BC Wine Institute (BCWI) supports the government’s continued efforts to minimize the risk and spread of the COVID-19 virus. Following the direction of the Province and Provincial Health Authority, we have postponed and/or cancelled the following BC wine consumer and industry events, including BC VQA wine store tastings in an attempt to help flatten the curve.
In an effort to practice social distancing, the BCWI has also implemented a ‘work from home’ policy until further notice to ensure the safety and health of our employees. Work hours will remain the same and all team members will be available via email during this time. We are committed to continuing business as usual and have put tools in place to ensure we can follow our same process while working remotely.
We have provided several information links in a recent CEO update and will continue to provide timely updates both through e-newsletters and through industry social media channels – both on BCWI Twitter and LinkedIn.
What you can do:
We are working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Provincial and Federal ministries, Wine Growers Canada, Destination Canada, Destination BC and other industry stakeholders and partners to assess current and potential impact of the virus on our wine, food and tourism industry.
We encourage you to complete the following survey to help us better understand and collect data on the long- and short-term effects this situation has on your business, and also what government can do to help support our industry. We will circulate this survey every week as answers will change regularly. We encourage your weekly participation.
All of the information collected will be anonymous and regularly shared with Destination BC and Agriculture Minister, Lana Popham and her Minister colleagues as she works together with other key ministries to assist the BC wine industry in both the short- and long-term.
We ask you to reach out to us if you have information and recommendations that you believe will be useful to share. Please contact me directly at email@example.com, and we will make sure your thoughts are included in our reporting.
Also, as COVID-19 updates continue to evolve by the hour, navigating the situation will test us all. I want to take a minute to thank the women and men on the front lines, assisting those that are unwell, potentially putting themselves in harm’s way, as well as those that are working tirelessly to find a vaccine.
In times of crises, community is more important than ever. Collectively, we can strive to listen, communicate real facts and follow the guidelines set out by our public health officials. Working together, we can slow this virus down and flatten the curve, which protects our health care system and ensures that those in need of it the most have the access when they require it.
Member resources & key links
March 11, 2020
COVID-19 Update. Trust official sources. Prepare your workplace now.
Working with tourism stakeholders, the BC Wine Institute (BCWI) continues to closely monitor the COVID-19 and reminds all BC winery stakeholders to rely on official sources of information only for updates.
The situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve, while Canada continues to be a safe travel destination, we understand that COVID-19 is top of mind for travellers and businesses in BC, and globally. The Ministry of Health, Office of the Provincial Health Officer and the BC Centre for Disease Control have plans to respond to this new virus and the BC Health System is preparing.
The BC Wine Institute is here to support the BC wine industry, and we are sharing the latest information from official sources as they relate to our sector.
What you need to know
Visit and review the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)’s online resources located here. This page provides updated travel risk and advice, guidance for the workplace and the latest on the current situation.
Stay informed on priority key messaging and key information from Destination BC, Ministry of Tourism, Arts & Culture website located here.
This guide on public health measures for individuals, gives detailed information on how to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
What you can do now
COVID-19 is still very rare in British Columbia but we suggest now is the time to begin safeguards. We encourage BC wineries to get prepared and consider implementing precautionary measures early to help safeguard staff and visitors.
The BC government and the provincial health officer have developed the British Columbia Pandemic Provincial Co-ordination Plan to respond to the evolving outbreak. Phase 1 of the plan is underway, addressing identification and containment. As new COVID-19 materials are produced (i.e. workplace “Hand Hygiene” poster) they will be published here.
Accordingly, in complying with the provincial standards for health and food safety guidelines, BCWI is working closely with our venue and culinary partners to provide additional precautionary measures to enhance the cleanliness and sanitization throughout their facilities and asking patrons and staff not to attend if feeling unwell.
At this time, Vancouver Coastal Health encourages public gatherings to continue with the customary precautions regarding food preparation, etc.
Monitoring and risk assessment on current BCWI events continues (i.e. Bloom, Discover, Chef Meets BC Grape, etc.) and communication including cancellation, postponement, etc. will be shared with members as more information becomes available.
Answers to questions
Call the Health Canada 2019 COVID-19 information line: 1-833-784-4397. Interpretation services are available in multiple languages. Or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
March 5, 2020
BCWI Board of Director Update
In the New Year, BCWI director (small) and chair Christa-Lee McWatters stepped down from the BCWI. The BCWI board unanimously elected Erik Fisher, Monte Creek Ranch Winery (medium) as interim chair until the July 28, 2020, AGM. The board chose not to appoint a director to replace Christa-Lee, opting instead to focus on recruiting vacant director nominations for election at the AGM. Nominations open in late-May with further information to follow.
BCWI Board & Committee Update & Highlights
Government Relations Committee, February 24, 2020
Review of advocacy strategies for supporting board-approved business objectives for Fiscal 2021 strategic priorities and business objectives, including:
- Advocate, with input from and in collaboration with industry, on high priority issues and supported government policy recommendations;
- Advocate for government support of the BCWI’s “Policy Recommendations for Growing the Domestic BC Wine Industry” White Paper;
- Support the BC Wine Authority, BC VQA program and plebiscite process and results;
- Continue supporting Wine Growers Canada (WGC) in its lobbying efforts at the federal level.
Board of Directors, February 18, 2020
- For both member wineries and BCWI budgeting certainty, BCWI membership dues continue to be $0.10 per litre (plus GST) of all 100% BC grape wine sales within the province, based on the prior full fiscal year;
- For total transparency, a review of the collection and reporting of commissions from sales in the BC VQA Wine stores on the purchase model specifically, BCWI invoice and collect the commissions directly from the winery, rather than the operator withholding and remit to the BCWI;
- Approval of the Fiscal 2021 operations budget, including a decrease (0.5%) in expenses from last year.
View the full list of Board and Committee reports here.
Federal Excise Exemption Update
Recently the Wine Growers Canada (WGC) met with several MPs, the Minister of International Trade Mary Ng, Chair of the Agriculture Committee, political staff from the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food, and the entire senior team at Global Affairs dealing with the World Trade Organization (WTO) challenge, including Canada’s Chief Negotiator Steve Verheul. The BCWI-supported WGC excise letter writing campaign generated over 500 letters to MPs, raising the profile of industry concerns regarding the loss of the excise exemption benefit. Australia has drawn its line in the sand and will accept nothing less than the removal of the excise exemption on 100% Canadian wine with final WTO report expected on May 29, 2020. This has elevated the level of risk facing the industry with the WGC making every effort to find a negotiated settlement position as soon as possible.
BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) Consultation
Responding to a conflict between the BC LCRB and the Manufacturer Terms & Conditions Handbook (T&Cs) regarding the products eligible to be sold in a manufacturer’s on-site store, the LCRB is inviting winery participation in a consultation regarding the eligibility of products sold under a licensed liquor manufacturer’s On-site Store Endorsement. Deadline to participate: January 3, 2020. See more info here.
The BCWI’s position is in support of OPTION #2 (liquor manufacturer licensees only sell products in their on-site store which are “registered to” their licence) as long as the BC winery licensee wine is “registered for proof of 100% BC origin” (e.g. subject to audit as a member of the BCWA and/or certification). Provided its undergone vinification at a licensed BC winery, a winery licensee can sell the wine in the on-site store registered to its licence – it’s irrelevant where in the province it is produced.
In fact, given our unique regulatory constraints (e.g. BC LDB, BC LCRB, ALC, etc.), harvest variations and being restricted to only utilize a BC agricultural crop, BC wineries need the ability to access different product and production facilities to mitigate, again, as long as in the end what’s in the bottle is verifiably 100% BC.
BC Agricultural Minister and Land Commission Update
BCWI met with Minister Popham, Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) Chair and senior staff to reiterate the recommendation that any policy meant to control development on Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) land consider the entire productive landholdings of the enterprise used in the 100% BC certified manufacturing process (e.g. vineyards), either owned or long-term leased, in calculating any maximum for development area. The recommendation was in response to new criteria in the ALC Policy L-03 that limits the allowable “development area” on the particular parcel of ALR land upon which the winery is located to 5%.
In a recent letter to the BCWI, Minister Popham advised ALC’s Policy L-03 had been repealed and a new policy that will create rules around “development areas” on ALR land is near completion. The BCWI will continue to liaise with the Ministry of Agriculture and the ALC on the matter, including consideration that many ALR lands have large percentages of areas which are unplantable (rock, steep, etc.).
BCWI Board of Director Update
With over 35 years of dedicated service to our industry and organization, including a 5-year term as the first woman BCWI Chair in 2010, Josie Tyabji, Senior Director, Great Estates, Arterra Wines Canada has made the decision to retire at the end of this calendar year. The BCWI board unanimously approved Josh Stewart, Manager, Industry and Government Relations – Western Canada, Arterra Wines Canada to replace Josie on the board.
BCWI Board of Directors’ BC Liquor Stores Retail Practices Task Group Update
With BCWI Board approval of the Task Group’s final white paper, the BCWI has met with Ministry of the Attorney General & Agriculture, Office of the Premiere and the BC Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) executive to present the report’s “Policy Recommendations for Growing the Domestic BC Wine Industry” including:
- Increase brand diversity & shelf space allocated to BC VQA Wine to better reflect existing market share in BC Liquor Stores;
- BC LDB end the practice of abruptly increasing retail prices and margins on fast moving local BC wine products;
- BC LDB end the practice of bridge buying and work with local BC suppliers in a collaborative way;
- BC LDB end the BC Select program;
- BC LDB end the pursuit of private label wine;
- Implement a floor price for all alcohol products of $8/100ml of absolute alcohol;
- Apply BC carbon tax to wine imports from regions that do not have a climate pricing regime.
Recent BCWI Governance & Advocacy Update
BCWI represents the BC wine industry’s interests to government and key decision makers. We work with members and industry stakeholders to establish BCWI Board direction on annual priority regulatory policy and other issues with ongoing reporting of progress. A volunteer Board of Directors comprised of nine elected voting winery members and two non-voting ex officio members governs the BCWI.
The Board and management are supported by active committees and ad hoc task groups comprised of expert volunteer members to provide input and assist in specific areas. In preparation for the development of next year’s (Fiscal 2021) operating plan, these groups have met recently, including a Board meeting in September.
Australia WTO Challenge Update
At a recent Wine Growers Canada (WGC – formerly CVA) Board meeting, Global Affairs Canada Deputy Director Jean-François Marion provided an update on the WTO Dispute Settlement Panel that included the likelihood for a final finding July/August 2020. At risk is that the Panel could rule on every measure that Australia has challenged including current excise exemption for 100% Canadian wines.
The WGC continues to have a strong working relationship with the federal government and has reached out to all federal parties with options for a negotiated non-WTO resolution. The WGC will be asking for winery support in a letter writing campaign, please stay tuned for next steps in the New Year.
November 13, 2019
BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) Consultation
Responding to a conflict between the BC LCRB and the Manufacturer Terms & Conditions Handbook (T&Cs) regarding the products eligible to be sold in a manufacturer’s on-site store, the LCRB is inviting winery participation in a consultation regarding the eligibility of products sold under a licensed liquor manufacturer’s On-site Store Endorsement. See more info here.
Specific to 100% BC grape wine, it’s the BCWI’s position that as long as the BC winery licensee wine is “registered for proof of 100% BC origin” i.e. subject to audit as a member of the BCWA and/or certification (e.g. BC VQA, Wine of Distinction) and provided its undergone vinification at a licensed BC winery, a winery licensee can sell the wine in the on-site store registered to its licence – it’s irrelevant where in the province it is produced. In fact, given our unique regulatory constraints (e.g. BC LDB, BC LCRB, ALC, etc.), harvest variations and being restricted to only utilize a BC agricultural crop, BC wineries need the ability to access different product and production facilities to mitigate, again, as long as in the end what’s in the bottle is verifiably 100% BC.
BC Agricultural Land Commission Policy L-03 Update
Applying to most BC wineries, Policy L-03 includes the addition of new criteria limiting the allowable “development area” on the particular parcel of ALR land upon which the winery is located to 5%.
Responding to winery feedback, the BCWI has advised the Ministry of Agriculture that the policy definition of development area is very broad, open to lose interpretation and includes any and all buildings, roads, parking areas and landscaping. In the case of a BC winery, the development area would need to consider wine production for which dedicated manufacturing space requirements alone need to include: raw product handling (crush pad), fermentation (tanks), storage (barrel), laboratory, bottling, warehousing (bottle/case) and a related tasting/sales area. As a result, Policy L-03 will effectively limit the growth of the BC wine industry to only established wineries with the land base to comply with the 5% maximum.
BCWI has recommended any policy meant to control development on ALR land consider the entire productive landholdings of the enterprise used in the 100% BC certified manufacturing process (e.g. vineyards), either owned or long-term leased, in calculating any maximum for development area.
Ongoing BCWI Governance & Advocacy UpdateA volunteer Board of Directors comprised of nine elected voting winery members and three non-voting ex officio members governs the BCWI. The Board and management are supported by active committees and ad hoc task groups comprised of expert volunteer members to provide input and assist in specific areas. These groups meet and report on an ongoing basis, including the most recent Board meeting.
BCWI represents the BC wine industry’s interests to government and key decision makers. We work with members and industry stakeholders to establish BCWI Board direction on annual priority regulatory policy and other issues with ongoing reporting of progress. See how we’re working for you.
September 25-26, 2019
BCWI Board Strategic Planning Session & Meeting
Over a two-day period, BCWI Directors & senior staff meet for their annual strategic planning session in advance of Fiscal 2021(April 1, 2020). Included were facilitated workshops to: review leadership-focused governance, Wine BC 2030 branding and a half-day session to develop BCWI’s business objectives for the upcoming year. The session ended with the Fiscal 2020 first quarter Board meeting that included:
- Approval of a motion to form the BCWI Board BC Liquor Stores Retail Practices Task Group (see below);
- Approval of a motion to recommend BCWI membership approval (at the July 2020 AGM) the name change from “British Columbia Wine Institute Society” to “Wine Growers British Columbia” as per the recent Canadian Vintners Association (CVA) name change to Wine Growers Canada;
- Approval of a motion to accept current director Ezra Cipes as the BC Wine Authority’s Wine Industry Advisory Council member observer at BCWI Board meetings for the remainder of the current fiscal year;
- Approval of a motion to amend of the BCWI “BC VQA Wine Stores – BC VQA Marketing Fee (Purchase)” policy, with an effective date of April 1, 2020, to read: “For sales to any BC VQA wine store on the purchase model, BCWI BC VQA Marketing Fee will be 5% [remain] ([increase to] 20% for non-members) of the wholesale price”.
BCWI Board BC Liquor Stores Retail Practices Task Group
At its September 26, 2019 BCWI Board meeting, Directors struck a task group to identify specific BC Liquor Stores (BCLS) retail practice priority issues impacting the BC wine industry with recommendation to the BCWI Board of Directors regarding advocacy priorities and strategies. At its inaugural meeting, October 3, 2019, that task group identified instances of the BCLS using its market power as a monopoly wholesaler and primary retailer to drive additional profit for the BC LDB at the expense of the BC wine industry and broader economic opportunities and other government priorities, including:
- Loss of listings for long-standing BC wineries with an overall lack of shelf space and recognition of the increase in the number and brands of BC wine;
- The practice of increasing retail prices (and margins) of faster moving products – ‘flex pricing’;
- The practice of bridge buying, where the LDB takes advantage of limited time offer promotions to purchase more volume than it anticipates will sell during the promotional period at discounted rates;
- The pursuit of exclusive and private label wine despite its role as a monopoly wholesaler.
- As per the task group mandate, next step is to document specific BCLS retail practice priority issues with recommendation to the BCWI Board of Directors regarding advocacy priorities and strategies.
BC Agricultural Land Commission Policy Change
In December 2018, the ALR released a new policy covering the operation of alcohol production facilities (including wineries) located on ALR land. Impacting BC wineries is new criteria relating to the allowable “development area” for a winery on the particular parcel of ALR land upon which the winery facility is located. The policy permits a maximum of 5% of the parcel to be used for “development area” and only includes the parcel on which the production facility is located and does not extend to other land owned or leased by the winery. The definition of development area is very broad and includes all buildings, roads, parking areas and landscaping and could severely impact winery expansion. If any BC wineries are experiencing issues with the new ALC policy, please contact me at MProdan@WineBC.com.
B.C. Agri-Business Planning Program
The C. Agri-Business Planning Program includes a funding stream for specialized business planning. Eligible applicants can access up to $5,000 for individuals and up to $30,000 for groups for services from a Qualified Business Consultant. The next application intake is in March 2020.
CanExport SME Funding Programme
Open to small and medium sized wineries, breweries and distilleries to access funding for international business development and export activities including 75% of key expenses, such as travel, consultant and market research fees, preparation of marketing materials, etc. More details and information on the CanExport SME programme can be found here.
Sept 17, 2019
SAVE-ON-FOODS BC VQA WINE-IN-GROCERY TOWN HALL
As a condition of the British Columbia Wine Institute (BCWI) BC VQA Wine store operator agreement, the BCWI meets annually with our operators for a review of the previous year and to plan an Annual Marketing and Merchandising Plan (AMMP) for the upcoming year.
Due to recent government changes to BC wine-in-grocery regulations, reliance of many wineries on the BC VQA wine store channel, proliferation of wineries and SKUs, etc. members were invited to participate in a town hall in development of this year’s AMMP for our grocery operator.
Held September 5th in Penticton, topics included: product and SKU registration and listings; winery promotional opportunities; in-store tasting registration process; pricing and markup and the impact of recent government regulations changes. Regarding the latter, Save-On-Foods reiterated their commitment to 100% BC through their wine-in-grocery agreements and licenses. Winery input during the town hall will also be taken into account in the development of the AMMP to be included in the BCWI Fiscal 2021 Operation Plan.
UPDATE: BC WINE INSTITUTE FUNDING STRUCTURE REVIEW
Recently the BCWI board accepted Task Group recommendations for further review and analysis on BCWI revenue and fee structure and policies, including BC VQA Wine store commissions and member $/litre dues based on BC LDB reported BC sales vs. tonnes purchased and grown.
Accordingly, the BCWI requests permission from member wineries for the BC Wine Grape Council to release to BCWI reported purchased and grown tonnes for 2017 and 2018. The information will be kept strictly confidential and used to examine the potential impact at the individual BCWI member winery level and to ensure fair and equitable implementation. If you haven’t already, please provide permission via the following link.
BCWI BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Following the BCWI Annual General Meeting (AGM) held July 9, 2019 at the Manteo Resort, Kelowna, re-elected large winery representative David Wilson announced his departure from Mission Hill Family Estate (MHFE). As a result, the Board unanimously accepted MHFE President, Darryl Brooker as the representative until elections at the 2020 AGM.
UPDATE: BC WINE IN GROCERY
The BC Government has amended its laws to remove the current restriction that allowed a limited number of grocery store licences to sell BC wine only on shelf. The new policy now brings BC into technical compliance with the conditions required under the USMCA side letter and is an important step in ratification and the sidelining of a US WTO action against Canada.
The BCWI has long maintained the original NAFTA, and substantiated in the USMCA Wine Annex, recognizes the provenance of our ‘grandfathered’ BC-only industry licences. We remain committed to the promotion of certified 100% BC wine, will monitor market reaction to the restriction removal and will consult with our member wineries and store operating partners before making any decision on next steps.
UPDATE: ONTARIO INTERPROVINCIAL WINE SHIPPING
The Ontario Provincial Government has brought in new liquor regulations to replace the June 2019 federal reforms that removed the 91 year-old federal prohibition on the interprovincial shipment of alcohol. Until now, Ontario’s provincial laws did not specifically address the importation of alcohol into that province, relying on the now defunct federal regulation. The new provincial regulation closes the loophole created with the removal of the federal prohibition to continue to make it illegal for Ontario consumers to import wine directly from wineries in other provinces and subject to the same penalties as previously. The CVA notes this the new provision is scheduled to be repealed on January 1, 2020. Presumably, and hopefully, giving Ontario time to work with the other provinces to put in place changes or systems to allow for direct-to-consumer shipping that industry has been advocating for some time.
In the meantime, for those wineries considering stopping shipping directly to Ontario customers, we suggest for following verbiage:
“In response to the Canadian government’s recent elimination of all remaining Federal constraints to allow for interprovincial shipment of alcohol, Ontario has responded by enacting law making it illegal for a winery outside that province to ship 100% Canadian wine directly to residents. Not only does this fail to reciprocate our BC government allowing 100% Ontario wineries to ship directly to BC residents, it defies the spirt of interprovincial free trade.
Due to Ontario enacting a law to make it illegal to ship our wine directly to fellow Canadians in Ontario, we are suspending direct delivery until further notice. In the meantime, we thank you for your patronage and ask you demand your local MP make 100% Canadian wine available to ALL Canadians and enable true free trade amongst the province.”.
BC WINE INDUSTRY ROUNDTABLE
Executive and board representatives of the BC Wine Institute, BC Grapegrowers’ Association, BC Wine Grape Council and BC Wine Authority met recently with BC Agriculture Minister Lana Popham and senior staff for an industry roundtable. Discussion topics included: growing and supporting sustainable practices; Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN) and implementation of the remaining BC Wine Appellation Task Group/BCWA Plebiscite Recommendations & Results. The importance of the outstanding items was restated in Wine BC 2030 stakeholder engagements where “certification of origin for 100% BC wine” was identified as the top priority strategy for the future success of our industry.
While the Minister reiterated her Ministry’s commitment to implementation of outstanding positive plebiscite results, she indicated that current regulatory restrictions made implementation difficult. It was agreed that as the leading organizations of the BC wine industry, the roundtable will bring forward an alternative recommendation(s) to support achieving the intended spirit of the original plebiscite results.
BCWI ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
Following another successful Annual General Meeting (July 9, 2019 at the Manteo Resort, Kelowna) that brought together winery owners and representatives from across BC, the BC Wine Institute (BCWI) is pleased to announce its new Board of Directors. Nine voting BCWI Directors represent all British Columbia wineries. Newly elected or re-elected members of the Board of Directors are:
- Dapinder Gill, Kismet Estate Winery (new)
- Leo Gebert, St. Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery
- David Wilson, Mark Anthony Group
Continuing their directorships are Chair Christa-Lee McWatters (Encore Vineyards), Vice Chair Ezra Cipes (Summerhill Pyramid Winery), Charlie Baessler (Corcelettes Estate Winery), Greg Berti (Andrew Peller), Erik Fisher (Monte Creek Ranch Winery), and Josie Tyabji (Arterra Wines Canada). BC Grapegrowers’ Association representative David Kozuki and BCWI President & CEO Miles Prodan continue as ex officio non-voting members.
BCWI Industry Recognition Award for outstanding contribution to the British Columbia wine industry were presented to Jeffrey Thomas, Chair of the BC Wine Authority for 10 years, and Darrell Jones, President of Save-On-Foods. The BCWI Award of Distinction was presented to Richard Cleave and Robert Goltz of R & R Management, in recognition of their outstanding leadership, commitment and passion for the advancement of the British Columbia wine industry (see link: http://ow.ly/sOHY50vam82).
CVA NAME CHANGE
On May 8th, the CVA Board approved “Wine Growers Canada” and the French translation “Vignerons Canada,” as the new name for the Canadian Vintners Association. Research demonstrated that the name aligned with the highest number of attractive brand elements, including agriculture, farming, grapes, harvest and jobs. The new name required bylaw changes which were approved by CVA members at its 52nd annual general meeting.
June 24, 2019
BC WINE INSTITUTE FUNDING STRUCTURE REVIEW TASK GROUP
At its February 19, 2019 Meeting, the Board formed a BCWI Funding Structure Review Task Group whose mandate included:
I. To review current BC Wine Institute revenue and fee structure and policies, including BC VQA Wine store pay-to-play fee and payment process and member $/litre dues based on BC LDB reported BC sales;
II. To present its findings and recommendations to the Board at its June 2019 Meeting.
Following a competitive RFP process, the Task Group engaged Cascadia Partners to assist in a comprehensive review of current BCWI funding, including stakeholder interviews, review of similar winery and agri-business trade organization practices with preliminary recommendations for the Task Group to take forward to the Board, including:
1. Align funding envelope to industry strategic plan
2. Use a regressive membership due approach
3. Use previous year actuals to set future year member dues
4. Use all BC grape tonnes purchased and grown as the member due baseline index
5. Increase the member due floor, do not cap member dues
BC VQA Wine Store Marketing Fees
1. Maintain existing member BC VQA Wine Store marketing fee at 5%
2. Increase non-member BC VQA Wine Store marketing fee to between 15-20%
At its June 11, 2019 meeting the Board accepted the Task Group recommendations with a motion to refer to the Finance & Risk Management Committee for further review and analysis on the impact to member and non-member wineries. (see link: https://bit.ly/2Xtg96I)
BC LIQUOR AND CANNABIS REGULATION BRANCH (LCRB) POLICY DIRECTIVES UPDATES
The LCRB has clarified regulations around online advertising requirements for Licensee Retail Stores, Wine Stores, and Manufacturers with Onsite Stores, specifically regarding advertising on a website owned and operated by an unlicensed third party (see link: https://bit.ly/2XZte51).
Any business making wine, cider, beer or spirits in BC must have a winery, brewery, or distillery licence from the LCRB. As the LCRB issues policy directives to announce changes to its policies from time-to-time, wineries are reminded to check the website regularly for notice of changes (see link: https://bit.ly/2WTPtIe).
ONGOING BCWI GOVERNANCE & ADVOCACY UPDATE
A volunteer Board of Directors comprised of nine elected voting winery members and three non-voting ex officio members governs the BCWI. The Board and management are supported by active committees and ad hoc task groups comprised of expert volunteer members to provide input and assist in specific areas and that meet and report on an ongoing basis, including the most recent Board meeting summary (see link: https://goo.gl/651xeu).
BCWI represents the BC wine industry’s interests to government and key decision makers. We work with members and industry stakeholders to establish BCWI Board direction on annual priority regulatory policy and other issues with ongoing reporting of progress (see link: https://goo.gl/Hqw1df).
May 15, 2019
BRITISH COLUMBIA VINTNERS QUALITY ALLIANCE (BC VQA) UPDATE
BC Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham has made official Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench as sub-geographical indications (sub-GIs) for use on BCWA-certified wine labels . With the addition of these two, there are now four (joining Okanagan Falls and Golden Mile Bench) sub-appellations that guarantee to consumers that at least 95% of the grapes in the bottle come from that specific area (see link).
BC WINE APPELLATION TASK FORCE – BCWA INDUSTRY PLEBISCITE UPDATE
The BCWI met recently with BC Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and senior Ministry staff to review Wine BC 2030, the BC wine industry’s long-term strategic plan, and for an update on the Ministry’s progress for implementation of the outstanding BCWA Industry Plebiscite Results. The BCWI advised that the Wine BC 2030 extensive stakeholder engagement process resulted in several strategies that substantiated and were consistent with the BC Wine Appellation Task Force recommendations and that were verified by industry through the BCWA plebiscite process.
The Minister confirmed the Government of British Columbia’s commitment to implement the remaining results, specifically a provincial-wide certification of authenticity for 100% BC wine – also a key strategy of Wine BC 2030.
BUSINESS TECHNICAL ADVISORY PANEL (BTAP) UPDATE
The BC Ministry of Attorney General has engaged Deloitte Canada for an independent review of the BC Liquor Distribution Branch’s distribution centre. The review is one of the BTAP recommendations to examine the order process for non-stocked wholesale product (NSWP) including how product is transported between distribution centres operated by the LDB and third party providers.
At the recent BCWI Insight Conference, Mary Sue Maloughney, ADM and General Manager, BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, confirmed the BTAP recommendations are forming the “roadmap” of government’s liquor policy reforms. While a participant on BTAP, the BCWI has recently met with Attorney General David Eby to advise caution in any prospective changes and to reiterate the unique regulatory requirements for BC wineries under LCRB licensing, LDB distribution and Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) regulations and policies. The Minister acknowledged the concerns and confirmed the BCWI would continue to be consulted throughout the BTAP recommendation analysis process (see link for the BTAP report).
CVA MEETS WITH FEDERAL MINISTER OF INTERNAL TRADE’S POLICY ADVISOR
On May 9, the Canadian Vintners Association met with senior staff from the Office of Finance Minister Bill Morneau who is temporarily responsible for interprovincial and intergovernmental affairs. The meeting provided an opportunity to discuss the amendments to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act which are currently being addressed in Parliament, as well as preparations for the upcoming Internal Trade Ministers meeting, which will take place in Halifax on May 29. In addition, Minister Morneau will also be taking over the intergovernmental responsibilities related to the Australian WTO case against provincial wine programs. The BCWI industry input was included in the CVA’s comprehensive briefing of issues and concerns, and the importance of a non-WTO resolution. The BCWI and the CVA will continue working closely on strategies going forward to find a positive resolution regarding both the WTO and a direct-to-consumer system.
2019 BCWI ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
On Tuesday, July 9, 2019 please save the date for the 2019 BC Wine Institute Annual General Meeting to be held in Kelowna at the Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel. Registration information to arrive shortly.
April 12, 2019
FEDERAL BUDGET BILL INCLUDES REMOVAL OF INTERPROVINCIAL SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS
Earlier this week the federal government tabled its 2019 Budget Implementation Act bill that is expected to be rushed into law before Parliament comes to an end in June and in advance of the anticipated fall general election. Included in the bill are amendments to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA), meant to support interprovincial winery-to-consumer delivery. Previous IILA amendments created a limited exemption if the alcohol was intended for personal use and if the provincial laws permitted it. Few provincial laws were changed to allow for the exemption.
The new proposed amendments will eliminate ALL remaining Federal constraints to allow for interprovincial shipments of alcohol across provincial borders without going through the liquor boards. However, the customer in the receiving province may be subject to any relevant provincial laws (the Comeau Case decision upheld the constitutionality of such laws) once the alcohol was received, but the actual shipment between provinces would no longer be prohibited. It is again up to individual provincial governments to adopt legislation or regulations to support direct-to-consumer.
The BCWI will continue to support the ongoing efforts of the CVA including developing creative to share on social media to engage provincial governments, consumers and stakeholders on the issue of direct-to-consumer.
WINE BC 2030 LONG-TERM STRATEGIC PLAN
Following on a presentation at the 2019 BC Wine Industry Insight Conference, the BCWI is pleased to release the complete Wine BC 2030 Long-Term Strategic Plan (see link: www.WineBC2030.com).
With support from the Governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, over the past 18 months more than 30 meetings have taken place in 12 locations province-wide and more than 650 industry participants provided input into the plan via multiple platforms, including industry working groups with representation from each of the sub-regions in BC, local industry experts and key stakeholders. In addition, progress updates were regularly communicated to the industry creating opportunities for interested members of the wine community to contribute.
Wine BC 2030 will be the foundation for BCWI’s Board of Directors in establishing measurable objectives for the BCWI’s annual operational plans (see link: BCWI Fiscal 2020 AC&M Operational Plan).
ONGOING BCWI GOVERNANCE & ADVOCACY
A volunteer Board of Directors comprised of nine elected voting winery members and three non-voting ex officio members governs the BCWI. The Board and management are supported by active committees and ad hoc task groups comprised of expert volunteer members to provide input and assist in specific areas and that meet and report on an ongoing basis, including the February 14, 2019 BOD meeting (see link: https://goo.gl/651xeu).
BCWI represents the BC wine industry’s interests to government and key decision makers. We work with members and industry stakeholders to establish BCWI Board direction on annual priority regulatory policy and other issues with ongoing reporting of progress (see link: https://goo.gl/Hqw1df).
March 20, 2019
FEDERAL BUDGET: INTERPROVINCIAL TRADE IN ALCOHOL 20219
Yesterday’s federal budget included the Government’s commitment to the removal of interprovincial trade barriers to alcohol. The budget clearly stated that the Government intends to remove the federal requirement that alcohol moving from one province to another be sold or consigned to a provincial liquor authority.
Provinces and territories would continue to be able to regulate the sale and distribution of alcohol within their boundaries. The amendment to the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act is expected to be implemented in the Budget Implementation Act. If the 2019 budget passes, the change will come into effect.
The next step in final implementation are national consultations on this issue in spring 2019, leading up to Federal-Provincial-Territorial Internal Trade Ministers meeting in Nova Scotia in late May.
BC WINE INDUSTRY INSIGHT CONFERENCE
Bringing together more than 200 industry stakeholders and key speakers, the BC Wine Industry Insight Conference, held on March 12 at the Penticton Lakeside Resort, provided an informative overview of the current and future states of the wine industry from industry experts. The Conference concluded with the delivery of Wine BC 2030 – a culmination of more than 18 months of industry engagement led by the BC Wine Institute in developing a ten-year strategic plan for the BC wine industry. Visit link
BC LIQUOR AND CANNABIS REGULATION BRANCH (BC LCRB)
As the lunch Keynote Presenter at the BC Wine Industry Insight Conference, Mary Sue Maloughney, LCRB Assistant Deputy Minister and General Manager, provided an update that included the status of the Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP) report on improving efficiency and business relations between government and the liquor industry. Visit link
In addition to emphasizing the BC government’s commitment to working with the BC wine industry on the implementation of the 24 BTAP recommendations, Ms. Maloughney reiterated that, as part of a deal to reach agreement on the new NAFTA deal (USMCA), the Province has committed to eliminating measures that allow only BC wine to be sold on grocery store shelves by November 2019.
Specifically, British Columbia fully intends to fulfill this commitment to ensure both domestic and imported wines can be sold in existing licensed grocery stores by November 2019. The BC government has committed to work with the BC wine industry when implementing the changes.
The BCWI advocates strongly that the USMCA continues to recognize the provenance of our grandfathered BC-only industry licences. The BCWI will continue to work with the Canadian Vintners Association (CVA) and federal and provincial governments on a solution that preserves the integrity of these farm-to-market licences.
BCWI ADVOCACY UPDATE
The BCWI met with government and senior officials in Victoria in early February on a number of BC wine industry key issues including: streamlining industry reporting and compliance requirements; trade challenges; the BCWI’s position concerning BC wine-in-grocery; and the BCWI’s BC Wine & Food Tourism Strategy.
Meetings took place with the BC Ministry of Agriculture; Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology; Solicitor General; and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.
Photo: Honourable Lisa Beare Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture with BCWI President & CEO Miles Prodan.
BCWI JOINS MINI-LOBBY DAY IN OTTAWA
On February 21, the BCWI joined representatives from the CVA, the Winery & Grower Alliance of Ontario (WGAO) and the Winery Association of Nova Scotia (WANS) in Ottawa to meet with senior officials and Members of Parliament. The focus of the visit was to educate decision-makers on the national and regional value of the wine industry both in job creation and economic growth. In addition, BCWI and representatives stressed the risks to wineries and regional economies from current and future trade challenges.
BCWI and representatives met with the Office of Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade regarding direct-to-consumer delivery. Other meetings included the Office of the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food; Dean Allison, MP, Vice-Chair of the International Trade Committee; the Office of the Minister of Finance; officials at Global Affairs Canada; the Office of the Minister of International Trade Diversification; and the day ended at the Prime Minister’s Office.
CVA FREE TRADE AGREEMENT UPDATE
The federal government is expected to table the new USMCA in the House of Commons mid-March, with the passage in Parliament due to take place prior to the 2019 federal election. Ratification of USMCA in the US is a little further out, as Congress has asked that a study be completed on the new agreement and its possible effects on the US economy before any ratification process begins. CVA Global Affairs therefore estimates that the earliest coming into force date of the agreement will be on August 1, 2020, but the government sees this as an ambitious target, with May 2021 being likely a more realistic date for full USMCA implementation.
With regards to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), almost all parties have begun the stages of ratification. Other countries have also announced their interest in requesting accession to the CPTPP, including Colombia, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand.
Negotiation of a possible Canada-Mercosur Free Trade Agreement (Mercosur consisting of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela) is well underway with the 4th round of negotiations held in Brazil to discuss market access and tariff offers. The fifth round of negotiations will be held in Ottawa on March 25, 2019. The ratification of Mercosur would increase tariff free access to Canada from 91 per cent to 97 per cent.
NEW SAFE FOOD FOR CANADIANS REGULATIONS
The CVA would like to remind all wineries that the new Safe Food for Canadians Regulations (SFCR) came into force on January 15, 2019. The regulations aim to lower the risk of food recalls and strengthen consumer protection. The CVA was successful in working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to obtain an exemption for wineries to the food safety elements of the regulations.
As a result, wineries will be exempt from licensing and will not have to implement preventative controls. However, wineries that produce wine for export; import wine; sell wine to consumers at retail; and/or sell wine interprovincially will be required to maintain a simple traceability log document, noting who supplied the ingredients and to whom the finished product was sold. Visit link
The timeline for compliance with the traceability requirements is July 15, 2020. Visit link
Wineries that export and require export certification from the CFIA, per country of import requirements, are advised that they now require a CFIA licence in order to obtain a CFIA Certificate of Free Sale. Wineries can apply online via MyCFIA for both a licence and for a Certificate of Free Sale. Visit link
January 23, 2019
GOVERNMENT REVIEW OF BC LDB
Prior to Christmas, Government announced an independent review of wholesale liquor distribution in the province (see link: https://goo.gl/C9L6Te). The review is the result of the 24 recommendations by liquor policy advisor Mark Hicken’s wide-ranging report to Government to improve business interactions between the Province and BC’s liquor industry (see link: https://goo.gl/cG6rDq).
While the stated focus of the review will be wholesale liquor distribution in the province, the BCWI will remain engaged to ensure our unique operating environment and the contribution of the 100% BC wine industry continues to be recognized through current critical government support programs for our sector (e.g. direct delivery, etc.) remain in place.
NEW GM OF THE LIQUOR AND CANNABIS REGULATION BRANCH (BC LCRB)
Government has announced Mary Sue Maloughney as the new Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM) and General Manager of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, replacing interim GM Dugald Smith.
According to a Government release, Mary Sue has extensive experience working in the public service and has held many senior leadership roles within the Government of British Columbia including ADM for a large operational division at the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Mary Sue and Ministry of Attorney General Associate Deputy Minister Doug Scott are scheduled to provide an industry update at the March 12, BC Wine Industry Insight Conference (see link: https://goo.gl/eSP3BG).
WINE BC 2030
We are halfway through the process in the development of a Long-Term Strategic Plan, creating a clear roadmap that will benefit all areas of the BC wine industry. Culminating with a presentation to industry, March 12, at the BC Wine Industry Insight Conference, the Plan will be the beneficiary of multi-level stakeholder input and engagement with additional opportunities available (see link: https://winebc2030.com).
AUSTRALIA WTO CHALLENGE
On January 11, Australian informed Canada that it will ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) to proceed with the next stage in the WTO process to establish the terms of reference and a Dispute Settlement Panel. Australia has been in a position to seek a panel since September 2018 regarding specific Canadian wine sales practices, including the excise exemption on 100% Canadian wines.
The BCWI is supporting the CVA in its efforts with Global Affairs Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Finance Canada, and federal Ministers and senior decisionmakers to emphasize the importance of the excise exemption to Canadian wineries, and to seek guaranteed support from federal decisionmakers.
If you have not already done so, to help ensure the voice of Canadian wineries is being heard loud and clear, we ask that you (and your staff) add your voice to our efforts in two simple steps to let the Government know that the 64 cent per litre excise exemption is critical to your business:
1. Download and send prepared email text to federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau and federal Trade Minister Jim Carr. (see link: https://goo.gl/oMPsNF)
2. Download and send prepared email text to your MP. (see link: http://ow.ly/lZCq30mgb4g)
Find your Federal Member of Parliament. (see link: https://goo.gl/E2LwRS )
ONGOING BCWI GOVERNANCE & ADVOCACY
A volunteer Board of Directors comprised of nine elected voting winery members and three non-voting ex officio members governs the BCWI. The Board and management are supported by active committees and ad hoc task groups comprised of expert volunteer members to provide input and assist in specific areas and that meet and report on an ongoing basis (see link: https://goo.gl/651xeu). BCWI represents the BC wine industry’s interests to government and key decision makers. We work with members and industry stakeholders to establish BCWI Board direction on annual priority regulatory policy and other issues with ongoing reporting of progress (see link: https://goo.gl/Hqw1df).