Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Standards for BC’s Wine Industry

Although there’s been little fanfare, British Columbia’s wine industry has a new set of standards and regulations. Thanks to a provincial law passed on July 18, 2007, and named the Wines of Marked Quality Regulation, these new standards come under the umbrella of the BC Wine Authority (BCWA) which will implement the newly enacted regulations and recommend future changes.

The BC Wine Authority regulations will require all wineries to be registered and meet a core set of standards for both winemaking and labeling. The mandatory level of Wines of Marked Quality does not, however, include VQA certification which will continue to be an optional program.

Previously, the BC wine industry was governed by the Wine Act that legally created the VQA standard which the BC Wine Institute has overseen since 1990. “The BC Wine Institute and its winery members are extremely proud of how the VQA program evolved and believe these standards have driven the positive, quality-directed growth of our industry,” says Scott Fraser, BC Wine Institute chair. “We believe moving standards into a separate organization – an organization independent of the wineries themselves and one that has enforcement powers – will strengthen the standards’ credibility even more and will overall serve consumers’ interests better.”

“Many of the best minds in the BC wine industry have been working tirelessly to establish the Wine Authority,” says Shaun Everest, marketing manager at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards (vineyards at harvest time shown above). With so many players involved, it was a long and difficult process. Now that the BC Wine Authority is officially in the picture, everyone can get on with what they do best… which is continue to make our fabulous BC wines.”

FYI: There are over 130 wineries in British Columbia – almost double the number from just six years ago – and over 410 grape growers. The BC wine industry employs more than 3,000 full- and part-time workers, and by sales, is Canada’s number one producer of premium wine grapes.

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