B.C. wineries continue steady growth in wider world

Sales of BC VQA wines to Alberta and other regions on the rise

BC's wine industry continues to grow domestically and globally.

The BC Liquor Distribution Branch's estimate of the province's total grape crop value in 2010 was close to $39 million, and 2011-12 sales of wine were in approximately $1 billion.

The number of B.C. grape wineries has nearly tripled in the last decade – to 214 in 2012 from 74 in 2002. Total grape acreage has increased to almost 10,000 in 2011 from less than 1,500 in 1990.

BC VQA wines, which are certified as being made from 100% B.C.-grown grapes, are consistently the second-best selling category in the province. They have a total market share of around 19%.

BC VQA sales are steadily increasing. They were close to $200 million in 2011-12 – a 180% increase compared with less than $58 million a decade earlier. Those sales are increasing outside of the province.

"We've always been supported locally by B.C. consumers, but as we continue to grow and evolve and the quality gets ever better and better, we're starting to be recognized from outside of B.C.," said Miles Prodan, executive director of the BC Wine Institute, who cited Alberta and China as growing markets.

"We're seeing the average price per bottle increase as well, which tells us that consumers continue to appreciate the value for BC VQA wine."

B.C.'s grape growers are cautiously optimistic about the upcoming grape-growing season.

Mount Kobau Wine Services is an Oliver-based viticultural consultancy that specializes in wine industry quality assurance and process development.

Lynn Bremmer, a former winemaker who co-owns the company with her viticulturalist husband John, said that so far, the upcoming year looks good for the region.

"It's still too soon to predict, but the winter's been very good and the fall was good, so we're going to have an excellent season," she said. "I assume winter is not going to throw us any minus-20s at this point, so we should be in great shape for the coming year." •

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