Shop Local, Drink Local.

How important is it to you?

Informed, educated consumers make informed, educated purchasing decisions.

…Right?

Shop local initiatives are on the rise in the Okanagan; from local subscription boxes to locally branded apparel and committed wine club memberships.  Okanagan Wine Club is a prime example and solution for consumers that want to support local wineries and winemakers with ease and accessibility.

But how many of us with the best intentions to support local actually look beyond the branding before pulling out our credit cards?  Something labeled with “B.C.” may not necessarily mean that it was generated, put together or created in the province, or even in the country.  Does price point also play a detrimental role in our purchasing decisions?  

Up until recently, wines that contained a percentage of internationally sourced finished wine brought to Canada for blending purposes were labelled “Cellared in Canada”.  This was a term that tended to mislead the average consumer who saw “Canada” and just assumed it was locally made.  On March 12, 2018 the label designation was appropriately changed to “international blend from imported and domestic wines” (used when there is more import content in the wine), and “international blend from domestic and imported wines” (used when there is more domestic content).  

Honesty on a label is paramount for the buying customer.  A wine label informs consumers what they are buying and what’s going in the glass.  If a label doesn’t accurately identify the origin from where the wine comes from, the customer can be easily be mis-lead and find themselves unintentionally supporting internationally imported bulk wine.

While the issue surrounding “Cellared in Canada” has finally been laid to rest – local producers are preparing for another potential hit next year with the introduction of affordable international wines in supermarkets, placed alongside local selections.  

There are currently 29 grocery stores in B.C. that are able to sell wine on shelves.   This includes 19 Save-On-Foods locations and 10 stores that are owned by Loblaw Companies Ltd.: nine that are branded Real Canadian Superstore and one branded Peter’s Your Independent Grocer.  At the moment, only VQA wines can be sold at these outlets.  These licenses were allowed by the BC government to move into grocery to accommodate the growth of BC wineries and allow better access for consumers.  However, as of November 2019, B.C. policy will change allowing licensed grocers to stock wines from all over the world.

US wine sales in Canada have already grown by an average of 13% every year for the past 28 years, resulting in a more than doubling of its wine sale market share to 14.2%. 

In order to sustain and grow local wine tourism, create more year-long employment opportunities and nourish our community, it’s imperative we make a conscious effort to continue buying and supporting local.

The 2019 realities that lie ahead for BC wine present an opportunity for producers to pull up their socks, get creative, up quality levels and create wines that can continue to stand and excel against their international counterparts.  The potential and necessity of the BC wine export market is also an important discussion that surrounds the lifeline of BC wine.  Our export market is pretty much non-existent, which begs the questions: if wineries and wine producers start losing their local consumers to international imports, who’s going to be left to buy the local stuff? 

Cheers for now,

Katie

Katie Truscott is a Canadian who has recently returned to the Okanagan in British Columbia after spending a decade in Johannesburg, South Africa. Currently in the middle of her WSET diploma, Katie enjoys writing about wine inspired topics for her blog. Katie is dedicated to becoming a voice for equal representation, authenticity and honesty alongside the good grape. The world has never been as small as it is now, and Katie loves utilising platforms such as Instagram, to spread positivity and connect with fellow oenophiles. Reach out and say hi!

katiejtruscott@gmail.com

1 Comment

  • December 22, 2018
    reply
    Mark Jacobi

    Great article. I think price point does play an important role in wine purchases and some might say that the wines in BC are too expensive. I am not one of them but my Dad is. We’ve gone on tastings with him and he sometimes says that he can get something similar at a lower price that is imported. He’s one of those two buck chuck type of drinkers, he loves the wine that is poured in his glass but scoffs at the price when he asks.
    I for one will try whatever is offered as there are so many different variables that go into wine from many regions around the world that can help develop you senses. If there is a BC winery that I like(just discovered Robin Ridge), I will purchase their wine, recommend them and hope to visit their winery in the future.
    I think it helps when there is a tasting booth set up at the store to help promote the local winery. It helps people to discover something new instead of wondering through the aisles trying to find something unfamiliar to them.

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