Questions & Answers

Your Questions

There are many questions the Task Group are hearing during this consultation. Please come back as we hear more of your comments and provide the answers below. Here are commonly heard questions and our responses to them below. Add your own comments in the form below, and they will be posted subject to moderation.

Who started the Task Group?

The Task Group was conceived during a wine industry leaders forum hosted by UBC Okanagan in 2014. The idea was presented to the BC Wine Institute board, who drafted a terms of reference. Board member Ezra Cipes was appointed Chair, and worked on creating the Task Group independent of the BCWI and its board.

How was the Task Group funded?

The B.C. Ministry of Agriculture made the largest contribution through the (federal partner) Growing Forward 2 fund. The BC Wine Institute also provided additional funding, approved by their board.

Was anyone paid?

The group’s only paid employee was the executive director. A sub-contractor was paid to conduct an independent online survey.

What costs (for board members) did the Task Group cover?

All Task Group members living in the Okanagan were asked to contribute their own time and travel costs. Anyone living outside the Okanagan (all in-person meetings took place there) were compensated for travel only.

What is government’s agenda?

From the beginning the government has strongly indicated their preference that industry work together as a whole. They supported this process on the condition that people work together on a common goal.

What will the changes cost me if I am currently not a BCWA member?

The regulations stipulate a charge of $11.02 per ton of grapes plus $25 per registered wine. The BCWA has a modest charge associated with their audits to recover costs (details on this to be provided on this page when available). The Task Group has recommended that BCWA establish a flat fee in order to minimize cost for small producers. See link to existing regulations here:

What if I do not want to join the BC Wine Authority?

If Industry chooses to support the recommendations then in order to have a wine manufacturer’s license you will automatically be enrolled as a BC Wine Authority member.

What if I want to put a geographic indication (G.I.) on my label?

Until you have a sub-GI or new GI approved by the Wine Authority, you would not be able to put unregulated GI terminology on your primary display (i.e. front label of the bottle) once the proposed phase-in period (to January 2019) is over. With the proposed new streamlined process, it will be much easier for wine producers and grape growers to band together to establish new sub-GIs.

When is the plebiscite vote taking place?

The start has not been confirmed as yet by the BC Wine Authority. Come back to this page for updated information.

How will my vote be counted in the plebiscite?

The BC Wine Authority will be conducting concurrent votes of both members and non-members of BCWA. The results of both sets of votes will be presented to government, and it will be up to the Minister of Agriculture to recommend whether the changes have the support of industry based upon the results.

Typically the rules require a “double majority” result for a ballot item to pass. This is at least two-thirds of members and 50 percent of wine production volume.

Assuming industry supports the regulatory changes, when would they take effect?

There is no certainty on when government could approve the changes, but the earliest scenario would be fall 2016.

Will we vote on each recommendation separately, or all of them as a whole?

The BCWA is preparing a set of separate questions that will reflect the intent of the individual recommendations.

Is the Okanagan map (reference here) intended to represent final boundaries for future sub-geographic indications (GIs)?

The map of the Okanagan agreed upon by the Task Group is only to provide a framework for future sub-GIs. The Group felt it was important to show the Okanagan Valley divided into contiguous sub-regions, based upon the 3 basic criteria: climate (north, central and south Okanagan), aspect (east and west sides of the valley), and geology. All final boundaries and names of the sub-GIs will be subject to approval via plebiscite of wine producers and vineyard owners in the respective regions, and will be based on accepted scientific principles.

Where are the final results of the plebiscite vote?

The results as tabulated by the BC Wine Authority are available in this document: 2016 July 9 Plebiscite Report to Minister