Averill Creek Vineyard owner and manager Andy Johnson said it’s too early to tell whether the attitude in Alberta will translate into a dip in sales from from his winery. (Averill Creek Vineyard)

UPDATED: Alberta’s wine ban won’t impact Vancouver Island producers

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s political spat that has pitted bitumen against sauvignon blanc doesn’t appear like it will have a direct impact on Vancouver Island wine producers, at least for now.

Notley announced on Tuesday that her province will stop the import of wine from B.C. until the NDP government suspends its efforts to place restrictions on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission is expected to step up enforcement of wine sales from B.C., impacting larger industry producers such as those in Okanagan but not the dozens of others in the Cowichan Valley and elsewhere on the Island.

RELATED: Alberta to stop importing B.C. wine in pipeline feud, premier says

RELATED: Trudeau talks to premiers about pipeline battle

Averill Creek Vineyard owner and general manager Andy Johnson said his Duncan-based winery ships upwards of a few hundred cases a year to private buyers in the neighbouring province.

“Whether or not the attitude in Alberta will reduce the number of sales we make to Alberta, I have no idea,” he said. “It is a very quiet time of year for us so it’s really not making a lot of a difference. When we do the spring sale that happens in April we’ll have a better idea of how things are going to go.”

Vancouver Island wines also aren’t being sold in any Alberta restaurants.

“There’s nobody big enough (on Vancouver Island). You really have to be a good size to have an agency looking after your wine in Alberta. There’s no money in it for the small guys, there’s no margin,” Johnson added.

According to the B.C. Wine Institute, 30 per cent of all wine sold in Alberta is from B.C., with a retail value of $160 million. The province also accounts for 11 per cent of the BC VQA market.

Layne Craig, the owner of 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery in Comox, said the ban won’t have much of an impact over the short term but there’s the potential for him to loose upwards of $100,000 if Notley was also to ban the direct sales of wine going forward.

“We have many, many customers in Alberta..if she does ban direct sales that stops all my wine club members from receiving their wine – that’s a fair bit of cash for me right there,” Craig said, adding that he ships a few hundred cases to the province annually and has ties to the Prairies. “The other thing this is going to be is that it’s going to begin to cannibalize the B.C. market because the closer you the better the profitability.”

The Institute’s president and CEO Miles Prodan said he was “disappointed” with boycotting wineries “over a yet-to-be-determined British Columbia government policy in a different sector.”

“A working free-trade relationship between Alberta and British Columbia is imperative to securing economic well-being for Canada,” he said. “We are disappointed that this political decision is threatening our progress and threatening the successes that have benefited small businesses in both the Alberta and BC economies.”

The B.C. government has moved to place restrictions on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and has said it will restrict increased shipments of bitumen while it further studies the effectiveness of spill response and cleanup, as part of phase two in its oil spill response plan.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will triple transportation of oil from 300,000 barrels a day to 900,000.

Nanaimo’s Matt and Natalie Riga operate Chateau Wolff Estate, a five acre family-run winery and vineyard set against the backdrop of Mount Benson.

Operating as more of a boutique producer with buyers on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver, the Rigas aren’t caught up in the politics but were “shocked” to hear the news and feel a ban hurts the industry as a whole.

“I think we’re a nation and we try to support everything as micro as we can but at the same time we are part of the same country and I think we should be working together rather than splitting difference,” Natalie said.

“I think if anything it’s a shame for the people of Alberta because they’re missing out on some really lovely wine and as an alternative they’re probably going to be buying international which doesn’t help anyone in Canada.”

Speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon, Premier John Horgan said he wouldn’t be “distracted” by the “retaliatory moves” of the Alberta government.

“I’m not responding in any way other than saying I’ll defend our wine industry. I’m here for B.C., not for Alberta,” he said.

“I’ve spoken with the prime minister and the premier of Alberta. I’ve made it clear to both of them that the interests of British Columbians are my priority, nor will I be distracted by the events happening in other jurisdictions.”

Still, Johnson said he feels the optics of the dispute between neighbouring provinces isn’t positive.

“I think it says a lot for Canada, how bad we are that she’s using those words ‘we’re banning the import of British Columbia wine’ just as if to say ‘we’re banning the import of American wine, or French wine or any other kind of wine. How can you ban something within a country?,” he said.

Just Posted

Stolen West Shore vehicle found in ocean off Oak Bay

SUV was submerged 90 feet from shore at Cattle Point

Province delivers notice of unauthorized occupation to Saanich tent city Camp Namegans

A Ministry of Transportation liaison to Camp Namegans delivered a “notice of… Continue reading

Campfire ban coming into effect across West Coast

The Coastal Fire Centre says bans will begin on Wednesday

UPDATE: Woman hit by car in parking lot 93 years old

Driver of sedan backs into older adult walking through lot

Deadly mushroom spotted in Greater Victoria

Early return of death cap mushrooms prompts Island Health warning

Trudeau asks transport minister to tackle Greyhound’s western pullout

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he’s asked Transport Minister Marc Garneau to find solutions in Greyhound Canada’s absence.

Special forces unit to monitor Hells Angels ride on Vancouver Island

Enforcement unit says motorcycle club to hold 35th anniversary ride in Nanaimo

Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds

Saanich Police investigate store robbery

Store video captures image of suspect

Restaurant Brands International to review policy over poaching employees

One of Canada’s largest fast-food company to review ‘no-poach’ franchise agreements

Calgary family’s vacation ends in tragedy on Texas highway

Three people died and four others were injured in the crash

Union construction cost competitive, B.C. Building Trades say

Non-union firms can bid on infrastructure, but employees have to join international unions

Trudeau to shuffle cabinet ahead of Liberals’ team for 2019

Trudeau could lighten the work loads of cabinet ministers who currently oversee more than one portfolio

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read