Shop Local, Drink Local.
How important is it to you?
Informed, educated consumers make informed, educated purchasing decisions.
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,