Since the start of the pandemic and culminating in Q3, the BCWI has worked to advocate to help ensure the survival of our industry. In addition to keeping members informed there have been several policy changes made during the COVID-19 crisis that are in direct response to the advocacy work of the BCWI, the Business Technical Advisory Panel (BTAP) and our industry partners that include:
- ensuring wineries were defined as an essential service in BC;
- preventing winery closure;
- working with industry, Provincial Health Officer and WorkSafeBC to establish the BC Wine Institute Ready to Reopen Toolkit;
- Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Branch extension of manufacturer licenses and renewal fees;
- expanded service areas, such as tasting rooms;
- extended hours for wine-in-grocery retail; and
- recognition of hospitality wholesale impact to our industry and the ability for delivery to customers from a registered secondary warehouse.
While many of these policies are temporary, the BCWI is following up to ensure those that support our industry are continued, if not permanently, where appropriate.
Since the onset of COVID-19 restrictions in March 2019, provincial total (all) wine litre sales have averaged 5.1% growth/month with the most recent reporting month of November 2020 a record high this year at 5.84%.
While provincial BC VQA litre sales have also increased over the sale period, BC VQA market share growth continues to decline and trend lower than the All-Imports market share growth with April 2020 the first time negative since March 2012.
BC Liquor Distribution Branch (BC LDB) Wholesale Hospitality Price
While we continue to be fully supportive of BC hospitality during the pandemic and of BTAP and government’s measure to provide support through the current BC LDB temporary hospitality pricing change, it is important to recognize that not only have BC wineries lost considerable sales due to restaurant closures and restrictions, but at a fixed wholesale price, profit margins are significantly reduced in what little hospitality business remains.
New Provincial Cabinet
In early December a new provincial cabinet was sworn in with the following impacting the BC wine industry:
- BC Liquor Distribution Branch will be moving into a newly created Crown Services Secretariat under new Finance Minister Selina Robinson.
- BC Liquor & Cannabis Regulation Board will be moving to the Solicitor General under incumbent Minister Farnworth.
- Melanie Mark is the new Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport.
- Lana Popham will remain, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fisheries.
- Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation will also have an impact on our industry concerning government COVID-19 recovery policy and program priorities.
Going forward, the BC wine industry now falls under at least five distinct ministries of which four ministers are new and whom we look forward to getting up to speed on our advocacy issues.
Finally, as we look forward to a brighter, more hopeful 2021, I want to again acknowledge the strength and perseverance of our industry. Just like grape growing and wine making itself, last year presented challenges that required patience, innovation and above all resiliency.
Specifically, I want to recognize the BC Wine Institute Board of Directors committee members and team, each of whom has made huge changes to their work and personal lives as we, like so many others, have had to find new ways to continue to support the BC wine industry.
Q3 was filled with exciting, innovative initiatives as our programs were reinvented to acclimate to our current environment. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of BC VQA the BCWI teamed up with the Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers (CAPS) to develop a new Chef Meets BC Grape competitive program — Somm Smackdown — resulting in the first-ever Wines of British Columbia Top Sommelier. Colour, BC VQA Fall Release Tasting was reimagined as Local Flights to comply with the provincial health order guidelines on large events receiving rave reviews from attendees. The October is BC Wine Harvest Month and Holiday campaigns brought local wine, hospitality and tourism partners together for a stronger future and to keep ‘support local’ top of mind.
First-Ever Wines Of British Columbia Top Sommelier 2020
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of BC VQA, the BCWI teamed up with the (CAPS) BC to recruit and challenge the best and brightest sommeliers in BC and Alberta to compete in a three-part innovative competition series involving written exams, blind tastings of BC wine, virtual dinners and the ultimate BC wine pairing challenge.
The winning sommelier from each virtual event travelled to the Okanagan to compete in a three-round finale, pairing BC wines with plates created by acclaimed BC winery chefs throughout wine country over three days.
The sommelier finalists included:
- Adriano Cartuliares, Sommelier and Wine Director, 10 Acres,Victoria
- Andrew Forsyth, Sommelier, L’Abattoir Restaurant,Vancouver
- Jean Taylor, Diploma Wine & Spirits Education Trust, Canadian Wine Scholar and Store Manager for Calgary Co-op Wine Spirits Beer
Judges, including the event emcee, Christopher Waters, Wine Columnist of The Globe and Mail, voted via ballot for what they believed was the “Best BC Wine Pairing” at each days’ event. Votes were accumulative over the three days, with Forsyth coming out on top with the highest overall percentage of votes across all three rounds.
“It feels amazing to win, especially with the extraordinary palates I had judging me and the two talented somms that I got to compete against, it’s an incredible feeling,” said Forsyth.
“The pairings this week have been really effective, it’s hard to isolate just one because every meal has been memorable,” said Waters. “One of the things that make BC wines so successful is that they all have this clean sweep of acidity that freshens your taste buds so a lot of them work with food and that’s where the art of the sommelier comes in. The magic of wine and food pairings is that the wine gets better, the food gets better, the experience is elevated, and that’s what makes a successful pairing.”
“CAPS BC and the BC Wine Institute share a philosophy and a vision to enhance the exposure of sommeliers and their role within the BC wine industry,” said Mark Taylor, President, CAPS BC and judge for the event. “A competition like this educates and raises the profile of the sommelier, and it provides something for the somm community to get excited about.”
Wines of British Columbia Local Flights VIP Trade Tasting
To align with provincial restrictions on in-person events, the BCWI created Local Flights, a reimagined version of the Colour fall release tasting event. Sixty-four BC wineries registered with 126 BC wines showcased to a coveted list of industry decision makers. Fifty-Nine trade registered to attend this new format, with 100% of attendees providing positive feedback, requesting more tastings be available following this format in the future.
The BC Hospitality Foundation (BCHF) provided 16 industry members who volunteered their time to provide a high-quality experience for attendees (their peers).
The safety of all involved was a key priority for us. We enlisted the expertise of Connect Seven, leaders in event planning and members of the work group who wrote the BC Meetings and Events COVID-19 Safe Restart Guidelines – to ensure this event followed all COVID-19 restrictions and requirements as we navigated through the ever-changing environment.
“I really enjoyed the revamped format of the fall tasting.” Commented attendee Kurtis Kolt, wine writer and sommelier. “The particular attention to safety and COVID protocol by the BCWI allowed for a comfortable atmosphere where proper focus, and enthusiasm, could be given to the wines.”
Local Industry Collaboration to Bolster Local Support
To encourage local support and help strengthen the collective industry, the BC Wine Institute partnered with Destination British Columbia, the BC Hotel Association, BC Restaurant and Food Association, BC Dairy Association and BC Seafood Alliance to collaboratively honour and celebrate the British Columbia harvest season and a brighter future for all industries going forward. The campaign’s aim was to bring local wine, hospitality and tourism partners together to ensure a strong future for all of us, keeping the ‘support local’ message top of mind as we brought the challenging year of 2020 to a close.
“Restaurants are an important place for people to experience how awesome BC wine is — especially when paired with BC seafood and beautiful locally-produced cheese plates,” says Ian Tostenson, President and CEO, BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association. “We’re excited to encourage people to experience all the harvest tastes BC has to offer.”
“Over recent months, we’ve witnessed how exceptionally few industries in our province have been left unscathed by the impacts of our current global crisis, proving it is more essential than ever that we work together” says Ingrid Jarrett, President & CEO of the British Columbia Hotel Association. “The accommodation community is proud to partner on this uplifting campaign as we collectively forge ahead on our road to recovery.”
Please see Marketing Manager Report for the full account on Q3 campaign and promotional initiatives.
The BCWI had a busy quarter, kicking it off with the ambitious October is BC Harvest Month, followed by BC Liquor Stores (BCLS) Boutique Wines from BC in November overlapping with the Holiday campaign. Our website pageviews increased by 112% compared to Q3 last year and for the month of October we hit a monthly record with 37,200 users which we had set back in 2018 in the inaugural launch of April BC Wine Month.
October is BC Harvest Month
BC Harvest Month was a multifaceted campaign with goals to create awareness of BC wine harvest, inspire people to visit BC wine country through the Wines of BC Explorer App trip planning features and engage with our Harvest Sips and Trips Contest. As mentioned by our marketing director we worked with several partners. Our efforts included sponsored media articles, influencers, social media, Google Ads, advertising with Narcity, Pattison, Gismondi on Wine, Global TV, Castanet and Post Media as well as a print ad in Vancouver Sun and point-of-sale materials placed in Save-On-Foods wine departments.
Total campaign reach was 47.6 million, 304,672 of those engaged further. Other notable campaign numbers include 2,543 new downloads of the Wines of BC Explorer app and 114,757 clicks within the app, the Harvest Sips and Trips contest had 13,714 entries with approximately 30% of those entries signing up for the Wines of British Columbia consumer newsletter The Vine, and the website as a whole saw pageviews increase by 98.74%. Average time on page increased 19.4% and bounce rate decreased by 30%.
Aged by Time Perfected by Wine
The Holiday campaign in partnership with BC Dairy worked to keep local BC wine and BC cheese a priority, reaching new customers and staying front of mind with returning customers. Tactics included influencers, social media, Google Ads, plus advertising with Pattison, Taste Magazine, Food Network and Globe and Mail. In addition, this campaign utilized the seasonally high foot traffic to expand our point-of-sale materials to include 180 grocery (with wine and without), 125 BC Liquor Stores and nine Sobey’s. BC wine and cheese infographics were sent out to 600 wine and cheese seminar attendees through The Canadian Cheese Ambassador. The BCWI also created this video for Food Network ads based on footage filmed during the Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown Competition to title the first Wines of British Columbia Top Sommelier.
The campaign had a wide reach with assets targeting audiences interested in après ski, direct shipping, wine as gifts, pairing and recipes. The main webpage for the campaign was the pairing page which saw a 64% increase in pageviews compared to the previous year. The total campaign reached 82 million and engaged 208,000. The media recall for retail signage and social posts combined was 32.6%.
BC VQA Leaning Week
Boutique Wines from BC
This is now an ongoing quarterly program with BC Liquor Stores. It offers new listing opportunities to smaller lot wines and an opportunity for consumers to taste new wines. In November, the wines were featured in approximately 28 BC Liquor Stores. A blog written by wine expert, Kurtis Kolt, about the 10 selected Boutique Wines performed very well. It was one of WineBC.com’s top three blogs of 2020 and the average time on page was an impressive 3:27.
Wines of BC Explorer App
The Wines of BC Explorer app continued to see excellent growth and is proving to be an important tool not just for wine tourism but also for consumers to explore and discover new-to-them wines. This quarter saw 3,084 new downloads and 133,653 total clicks. Some of the top clicked curated lists include red wine, white wine, special events and award-winning wines.
Following up on the strategic research and partnerships developed during the second quarter, Q3 saw the exciting implementation of innovative new formats, best practices, research and planning that allowed us to connect and engage with media, trade and stakeholders in meaningful and effective ways while keeping us on track to achieving our Fiscal 2021 strategic objectives
Brand BC: Build And Promote A World-Class Brand
Wine Intelligence Research
During Q3, the BCWI partnered with Wine Intelligence to conduct proprietary research measuring trade and consumer perception and awareness for Wines of British Columbia. The surveys were in field October through November resulting in 1,000 regular wine drinker respondents and 382 wine trade respondents in Canada. This survey will be conducted over a three-year period and will establish key performance benchmarks for driving trade and consumer perception change as a measurable objective in the BCWI annual operational plan. This important KPI will support Wine BC 2030’s strategic pillar, to build and promote a world-class brand for the Wines of British Columbia. The research results from these surveys will be presented at the BC Wine Industry Insight Conference on March 18, 2021.
Somm Smackdown Familiarization Tour
Since the beginning of our current fiscal, how we promote and market wine domestically and internationally has significantly changed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue working with Destination BC, governments, stakeholder partners, Wine Growers Canada (WGC) and other regional associations to be flexible, innovative and responsive to media and trade opportunities, and deliver activities and engagements that are appropriate to the prevailing conditions.
Through thoughtful planning, a comprehensive COVID-19 safety plan and cooperation from our member wineries, we were able to proceed with an innovative familiarization itinerary that allowed us to safely and successfully host an intimate group of 15 key media and trade in-region for our Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown Grand Finale October 19 to 21. The health and safety of our guests, staff and wineries were a top priority. We worked with Connect Seven Group to implement protocols to mitigate risk and ensure the familiarization tour abided by all provincial COVID-19 restrictions and requirements. Media and trade guests travelled in groups of six and remained in their groups for the duration of the fam tour. Vineyard visits took place before 11:00 AM, followed by outdoor tastings whenever possible. Staggered arrival and departure times were scheduled, and meals were organized to allow for social distancing. Visitations with winery members were limited to ensure the total encounters during the three-day tour did not exceed the provincial restriction of 50 patrons.
The opportunity to connect with the people, places and culture of our breathtaking province helps ensure that visitors leave as advocates and ambassadors for BC wine and share our stories with their audiences. When COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted, we will once again look forward to bringing key influencers and media to BC, immersing them in our wine regions, to create a positive and lasting impact.
Building Digital Media Partnerships to deliver positive messaging for Wines of British Columbia
With a corresponding reduction in media and trade familiarization tours and in-region events in response to the measures taken to limit exposure to COVID-19, our communications and media mix have been modified to allow a greater emphasis on digital and social communications and media partnerships to help grow the knowledge and perception about BC wine and wine regions.
The BCWI continued to build on our strategic relationships with media partners including Narcity, Vancouver Sun, Global News, Gismondi on Wine and Castanet to encourage local support, and deliver positive messaging and awareness for BC wine in celebration of the BC harvest. These media and communications efforts resulted in 80 highly targeted editorial pieces including one broadcast segment, and eight Zoom videos for a total reach of 26 million generating $240,958 in advertising equivalency with a 3:1 return on media coverage. See media section below for highlights.
2021-2023 BCWI Wine Export Strategy
The final 2021-2023 BCWI Wine Export Strategy was presented to government on November 30, 2020 and shared with member wineries and stakeholders in the BCWI Weekly Update and CEO Update. Written in collaboration with the BCWI Export Strategy Task Group, the three-year strategy was developed and framed to mitigate the risks identified while determining best strategy and opportunities for BC wineries to effectively enter international markets and build demand for BC wine in priority export markets. The strategy aligns with the previous Wine Growers Canada Long-Term International Market Strategy (LTIS) and Wine BC 2030 Plan. This allows BCWI to continue to work collaboratively with the WGC in the future and will result in a “Brand BC” that reflects and aligns with the existing “Canada Brand”.
The BCWI Wine Export Strategy 2021-2012 is available at WineBC.com.
We look forward to bringing international wine trade and media visitors to our spectacular wine regions when we can, so that we can create a positive and lasting impact with our wines and the people, stories and places behind them.
Direct and indirect media coverage of the BC Wine Institute, its members and the Wines of British Columbia reached 282.9 million readers and viewers from October 1 through December 31. Value for media coverage totalled $2,617,345.
Chef Meets BC Grape Somm Smackdown Familiarization Tour
Highlights in the news from October 1 through December 31:
Global News | Saturday Sips: Harvest wine pairings with Kelowna’s Waterfront Restaurant
Globe and Mail | What can I expect from the Okanagan’s 2020 vintage?
Narcity | 9 Regions In BC That Are Perfect For Your Next Fall Country Getaway
Vancouver Magazine | Somm Smackdown 2020
Global News | The BC Wine Institute reveals survey results that paint bleak outlook for industry hit hard economically by the pandemic
Gismondi On Wine | BC Grape Harvest 2020
Decanter Premium | Michaela Morris: My top fine wines of 2020
PRESS RELEASE ROUND-UPFor the full Q3 Media Report, click here.
To ensure the Wines of British Columbia stay top of mind in key markets and to make sure consumers and industry remain informed on issues affecting the wine industry, the BC Wine Institute regularly issues press releases to a group of more than 300 national and international media.
You can find all press releases issued in Q3 in the Media section of WineBC.com
Amid the on going management of the COVID-19 pandemic, content strategies in partnership with digital advertising and social media continued to play a critical role in generating positive sentiment and driving a “Buy BC” message in what is a growing, competitive online environment.
Over Q3, content marketing consisted of a multi-media mix of branded visuals with tailored key messages, social media consumer contests, blog narratives, new photo stock, credible third-party influencer voices, paid online media partnerships and a variety of videos both long-version and social to expand both audience reach and engagement. Throughout, all Wines of British Columbia content remained sensitive to and respectful of COVID-19 regulations as per the directives of BC’s leading Provincial Health Officer.
During the third quarter, the Wines of British Columbia developed and executed a record 1,134 pieces of high-quality digital marketing content across eight digital platforms targeting consumer, trade and industry audiences. Additional content included contracted third-party influencer social media posts and paid media partnerships that incorporated branded banner ads and sponsored campaign articles.
Throughout Q3, BCWI promoted four major campaign themes; October is BC Wine Harvest Month, Somm Smackdown, the BCLS Boutique Wines from BC program and Holiday Pairing Recipes with Save-On-Food promotions. In optimizing audience insights and retargeting, BCWI once again took advantage of Facebook’s ad platform to amplify exposure on key assets.
Another strong partnership saw Wines of BC join forces with national award-winning author of BC Wine Lover’s Cookbook, Jennifer Schell. Jennifer worked with Wines of BC to develop six interview-style video blogs featuring local recipe demonstrations, photos and various recommended BCWI member wine pairings. The second of the two-part series featured the Okanagan Valley and Vancouver Island wine regions.
To further connect and support the health and professional development of the BC wine industry, the BC Wine Institute continues to offer membership training webinars on digital marketing topics. Close to 70 industry took advantage of November’s webinar which spoke specifically to Influencer Marketing for BC Wine Brands.
Social Media Marketing
- For Q3 a total of 29 creative Facebook Ad Sets were developed reaching 1,436,146 people. Post engagements totalled 1,171,625 at a cost per engagement of $0.05. Clicks earned totalled 100,870 at a cost per click of $0.62. See report.
- Q3 Influencer Marketing Campaigns brought together a diverse group of voices including Sommelier Brad Royale, VancityWild, Emma Choo, Viranlly, Tori Wesszer, Deanna Woo and the Sparkling Winos among others. Estimated media value totalled $1,378,500 from 294 recorded posts reaching 1,467,700 people with 39,000 engagements earned. BCWI oversaw a total of 14 influencer contracts targeting both BC and Alberta. See Harvest Influencer Campaign Klear report and the Holiday Influencer Campaign Klear report.
- The BCLS Boutique Wines from BC program promoted 10 BC VQA Wines through the month of November. Select wines were reviewed by professional wine author, teacher and sommelier Kurtis Kolt on the BCWI’s Taste & Terroir blog. The blog earned a total of 6,047 views over Q3 with Kurtis’ blog earning 1,462 views. The second-best performing blog was author Tim Pawsey on Harvest Havens and Great Escapes that featured BC winery accommodations and earned just under 1000 views. A total of eight blogs were published over the Q3 period.
Member Webinars & Training
- A new BCWI Member Training Webinar, Influencer Marketing for BC Wine Brands, was delivered in partnership with Instagram Marketing expert Jenn Herman. A total of 30 industry stakeholders participated with 44 taking advantage of the education-based marketing webinar replay.
- To guide BCWI members adoption in including updates to the Wines of BC Explorer App, additional Instagram slideshow and image “How Tos” on industry social media channels were shared.
To review social media top posts and a summary of Q3 digital marketing analytics, click here.
Q3 Wine Competition Results
Each year, BC VQA Wine and certified 100% BC grape wine are entered into dozens of wine competitions where they show extremely well. BC VQA Wine winners are tracked. A total of 59 awards were received in Q3 from two competitions. See full results here.