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

Lantzville politicians deny claims made against them in lawsuit

Civil lawsuit involves an accounting business sold by Colin and Denise Haime

Nanaimo teen breaks BC Games race walking record

Zone 6 athlete Olivia Lundman crossed finish line with ease, to loud cheers in Cowichan

Closing arguments complete in trial of Nanaimo man representing self in fatal crash case

Judge expected to render decision Monday, July 23 at B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo

Tilray CEO talks about medicinal marijuana company’s future in Nanaimo and globally

Brendan Kennedy discusses Tilray’s opportunities through new markets and investment.

Here’s what you need to know about Day 2 at the BC Games

From equestrian to volleyball to swimming, all 18 events in full swing here in the Cowichan Valley

Beefs & Bouquets, July 19

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

Sr. A Timbermen can clinch a berth in WLA playoffs

A Burnaby loss tonight or a Nanaimo win on Sunday would put the T-men in the post-season

Final arguments made at tent city hearing, court won’t rule immediately

Lawyer says City of Nanaimo is concerned occupants would consume hand sanitizer

PHOTO GALLERY: BC Games Day 2

A brief look at action from the 2018 BC Summer Games in the Cowichan Valley

BC Wildfire update on 14 major Okanagan blazes

Watch the media briefing on the current fire situation in the Okanagan.

UPDATED: Kinder Morgan pipeline protesters defy eviction order

Demonstrators at Camp Cloud in Burnaby say they won’t leave, but will meet with city officials

B.C. tent city camper arrested for taking coins from fountain

The man, who built a shelter at a Saanich park, says homeless people are unfairly targeted

Ex-Raptor DeMar DeRozan says goodbye to Toronto on Instagram

The guard was traded to the San Antonio Spurs earlier this week for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green

Most Read