July/August 2020 – Facing the Music

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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Page 47 of 79

Though global pandemic–induced challenges create some unknowns for the 2020 wine-growing season (see p.51), the business is almost unrecognizable from its roots in the modest enterprise of making sacramental wine, which started on a mis- sion near today's Kelowna in the mid-19th century. It now contributes a million visi- tors and $2.8 billion annually to the pro- vincial economy. The province is home to seven wine regions beyond the famed Okanagan and next-door Similkameen val- leys; from Lillooet to the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island (where Titanic director James Cameron bought Beaufort Vineyard and Estate Winery in 2014), we're pushing the global boundaries of where fine wine can be successfully made. To any businessperson, the B.C. wine industry tastes of opportunity—and of change. The British Columbia Wine Insti- tute recently revealed a strategic vision that considers how consumers, growers, wineries and the tourism and hospital- ity industries will reshape the landscape over the next decade. Wine BC 2030 pro- poses to turn potential weaknesses and threats, from high costs and limited land and labour to climate change and the can- nabis industry, into strengths and oppor- tunities, with strategies like $30-a-bottle premiumization, global exports and a cutting-edge agritourism strategy. In the 30th anniversary year of the British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance ( BC VQA), which changed the winemaking game in 1990 by verifying wine origins, grape varietals and vintages, the indus- try has new choices to make if it wants to keep raising the bar. James Lancaster, part of the second generation working a steep patch of Naramata at the boutique-sized Black Widow Winery, puts it succinctly. "It's about deciding, do you want to be a small winery or a big winery?" says the sales and marketing manager. "Medium- sized is just not going to be viable." Sowing sustainability On a sunny spring day, couples in casu- ally expensive weekend gear sip rosé and snack on spicy gnocchi on the Home Block restaurant patio on Kelowna's Lakeshore Road. Others rub cashmere elbows around the circular tasting-room counter, evalu- ating vibrant Syrah and smooth Viognier. It's wine pickup day for cases ordered by CedarCreek Estate Winery's Platinum Club members, Okanagan Valley VIPs living the dream wine-country life: golf courses, fit- ness clubs, organic markets. The 2019 Canadian Winery of the Year, one of about a dozen in the valley to be cer- tified organic under various programs, fits this modern lifestyle like a calfskin glove. Ecocert-verified organic in its 50-acre estate vineyards and winery with the 2019 vintage, CedarCreek plans to release an entirely organic range of wines by 2021. "You can taste it. We have greener, more-vibrant vines, and better grapes with lower alcohol, because the sugar levels are in control," says Darryl Brooker, president of Mission Hill Family Estate and Sebastian Farms, the prestige group within which CedarCreek operates. Organic means not 1990 157 2020 2,127 BC VQA– CERTIFIED WINES 48 BCBUSINESS JULY/AUGUST 2020 Grape Strides TO MARK THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VINTNERS QUALITY ALLIANCE (BC VQA) DESIGNATION, THE BC WINE INSTITUTE SHARES SOME KEY NUMBERS HIGHLIGHTING THE PROVINCIAL INDUSTRY'S GROWTH 1990 19 2020 282 1990 1,293 2020 10,499+ 1990 115 2020 929 LICENSED GRAPE WINERIES ACRES PLANTED VINEYARDS BC VQA MARKET SHARE 3% 1990 19.2% 2020 "You can taste it. We have greener, more-vibrant vines, and better grapes with lower alcohol, because the sugar levels are in control" –Darryl Brooker, president, Mission Hill Family Estate and Sebastian Farms

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