What People Are Saying

Selected quotes from our consultation

Dozens of stakeholders have already provided their comments — the selected quotes are sourced from conversations which took place over the weeks spanning April 23 to June 1, 2015. The comments were recorded during town hall meetings, small group meetings, one-to-one discussions, phone calls and email responses.

Almost without exception participants involved in the consultations were positive and welcomed the opportunity to comment. Many described the process as an important one for the BC wine industry. A few were critical of how the Task Group was formed and how its members were appointed, but otherwise appreciated that it would be doing important work on behalf of the industry.

The discussions typically centered on four key themes.

  1. The future of BC’s appellations and the debate on what, if anything, should change;
  2. Compulsory requirements for certifying the origin of grapes;
  3. Tasting panels and questions as to their purpose, and the future of BC VQA;
  4. The number of audits wineries must do and how to streamline them.

On Appellations

On the subject of appellations there were diverse and strongly held views from many respondents.In our first Task Group meeting, wine writer Anthony Gismondi recommended we base sub-appellations on more human terms to make it more relatable, i.e. the concept of village. It was noted that because the Golden Mile Bench was done solely on science it resulted in alienation among stakeholder (something Gismondi and others urges the industry to avoid in future). When discussing the idea of science vs. the village concept, it was felt that the village concept was better than the pure science concept, with science used to back up and inform the village model.

As to whether BC needs new appellations (or sub-appellations) now the opinions varied.

  • The Okanagan is overdue for new appellations by 5 to 10 years – Rhys Pender, Little Farm Winery
  • 15 years of weather records especially in the face of rapidly changing climate conditions is insufficient to determine new appellations – Lanny Martiniuk, Stoneboat Vineyards
  • Our consumers are only beginning to understand what the Okanagan is. A new appellation is unlikely to help me sell another bottle of wine – Roland Kruger, Wild Goose Winery
  • Consumers think the Okanagan is Kelowna – that’s where the airport is and the highway goes. A new appellation helps wineries in the south – Bill Eggert, Fairview Cellars
  • We should be able to put where our wine is from on our labels, whether that’s Skaha Bluff or Naramata Bench – John Skinner, Painted Rock Vineyards
  • Consumers know that the Okanagan is not one thing – Luke Smith, Howling Bluff Estate Wines
  • We tend to denigrate by just calling it Okanagan Valley – doesn’t do justice to what’s happening now in the bottle – Tim Pawsey, wine writer
  • Wineries no longer might buy their product if in certain DVA or not; could impact several grape growers – Manfred Freese, BC Grape Growers Association
  • Consumer has no idea where that wine comes from now; could be blended from all across Okanagan Valley – Rolf de Bruin, Fort Berens Winery
  • It’s too soon for new appellations (we don’t have enough research yet) – David Scholefield, wine industry veteran
  • We don’t have a thousand years of history. Gray Monk is not that excited about coming up with new appellation. – Geri Davis, Gray Monk and Intrigue Winery
  • Grapes and varietals identified to region is an important step. Consumers want to know what vineyard, what row, etc. They are looking for identity. It’s the only way we are going to get the right variety to grow in the right spot. – Scott Locke, Cedar Creek Winery

On Compulsory Certification of Origin

There was nearly unanimous support for requiring certification of origin for grapes used in all BC wines.

  • We need an ironclad system to prove where our wines are made if we want to export – Luke Smith, Howling Bluff Winery

However, there were concerns about involving government in the control of appellations.

  • Why would you give the Naramata (or any) name to the government? – Jeff Martin, La Frenz Winery
  • I strongly disagree with government dictating how we operate. Making participation mandatory is the first step down a slippery slope. I understand some feel we should be following the example of France… and I can see this ending up at the same point – the government telling us not just what appellations we can use, but dictating what we can call our wines, which grapes we can grow, what crop levels we can achieve, when we can pick etc…. just like France. – Mark Holford, Rocky Creek Winery

On Tasting Panels & BC VQA

There were many calls to end the tasting panels outright or seriously reform them.

  • If certification of origin happens then panels should go – Rolf de Bruin, Fort Berens Winery
  • VQA does not guarantee quality – Jeff Martin, La Frenz Winery
  • Panels should disappear – just have certificate of origin instead. But if we keep panels it should only be for checking that it is safe and unadulterated – Luke Smith, Howling Bluff Winery
  • Keep BC VQA and get rid of tasting panels; go with lab analysis and have wine verified as healthy food – Group consensus at Naramata roundtable discussion
  • Even if it is not perfect, the tasting panels protect the consumer – Andy Gebert, St. Hubertus Estate Winery
  • BC VQA is not about “Quality” – consumers do not care – Cynthia Enns, Laughing Stock Vineyards
  • Why is BC wine forced to make wines that only taste like the varietal? Beer-makers are kicking our butt because they are trying new funky tasted products – we’re losing consumers – Patrick Murphy, Vista D’Oro Winery
  • I don’t want to see us lose VQA. We have built up so much awareness over the years it would be throwing away something that most recognize.  I have never cared if they got rid of the tasting panel though.  It if survives this review or not I could care less.  – Sandra Oldfield, Tinhorn Creek Winery

On Industry Audits

Wineries are being audited by too many different regulators. Small business operations especially are wasting valuable time and resources trying to keep up with them all. There is broad consensus for working with governments and other agencies to reduce redundancies.

  • The wine authority audits are well known to be a duplication of effort from what Excise Canada already undertakes. Having two sets of auditors checking the same information is ludicrous and until a process is in place to amalgamate the audits I will not support them – Mark Holford, Rocky Creek Winery
  • If want to be world class wine region we need a modern framework for enforcement. Sending ‘nil’ responses to the CRA for excise taxes every month is a waste of time and money – Luke Smith, Howling Bluff Winery
  • We have crop insurance and excise taxes that help to identify the source of grapes. Why not have one way to audit/confirm grape origin? – Andy Gebert, St. Hubertus Winery
  • We are overregulated – do audits one time and that’s it. I’ve got no faith in the BCWA wanting to change this. They will only perpetuate themselves –Lanny Martiniuk, Stoneboat Vineyard