April 1, 2015
SURREY, BC - Some of BC's highest quality wines are now on sale next to BC-grown produce, meat, seafood and dairy products at the South Point Save-On-Foods store in Surrey.
The South Point grocery store has become the first one in BC to stock and sell BC VQA Wines under the Province of BC's new liquor regulations which took effect today, following the government's province-wide Liquor Policy Review.
Under the new legislation, grocery stores fitting criteria laid out by the new regulations may offer BC VQA Wine products for sale on designated shelves under a third party operator arrangement with the BC Wine Institute (BCWI), which holds longstanding licences to operate BC VQA-only stores. Starting today, those specialty store licences may now transfer their operation into grocery stores and offer 100 per cent BC Wine on grocery store shelves.
"What it means is that shopping for locally-made, high-quality BC agrifood products is even more convenient as of today," says Miles Prodan, President and CEO of the BC Wine Institute. "That convenience was something wine consumers consistently requested during the provincial public consultation process. We're pleased that the provincial government has listened and made it possible for BC producers to offer their premium-quality wines to pair with other great BC agrifoods that British Columbians know and love."
The wines offered at Wines of British Columbia Save-On-Foods South Point reflect a broad range of brands, varieties and price points from all regions of BC. Smaller wineries will be able to market themselves alongside some of BC's larger producers on a level playing field. As with any agrifood product, adjustments in the product mix for these shelves will be made by retailers based on customer feedback, market trends and seasonal availability of product.
The new policy gives BC's premium wine producers greater exposure to a broader consumer base, and effectively updates the BC VQA Wine Store licence structure, initially set up 25 years ago, to foster the thriving agricultural and winemaking industry we see in British Columbia today.
As for the rationale for choosing Save-On-Foods to be its first grocery store partner, Prodan says the company's longstanding "buy local" vision aligns with the BCWI's own values.
"Save-On-Foods, and its parent company, the Overwaitea Food Group, have a proud 100-year heritage in BC. The company has built a reputation as a tremendous partner in showcasing locally-produced foods, and providing a retail platform for all types of growers and manufacturers to access its high-quality, consumer-focused network. BC's wine producers count themselves among those local agrifood producers and appreciate the extra effort Save-On-Foods makes in promoting BC producers. It's a very natural fit for us to locate this store."
The wine on shelves launch comes as the BC Wine Institute celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Since 1992, annual BC VQA Wine sales have grown from $6.8 million, to $225 million. The number of grape wineries has grown from 17, to 240, in the past 25 years, and acreage planted has mushroomed from 1,500, to 10,260 acres.
For details on BC VQA and the Wines of British Columbia, go to WineBC.com, like the Wines of British Columbia Facebook page and follow @WineBCdotcom on Twitter.
BC VQA (British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance)
Put very simply, the BC VQA designation is a guarantee that you are purchasing 100 per cent BC Wine. BC VQA certified wines are also tasted by a qualified panel to ensure that they are fault free prior to being able to use BC VQA on their labels.
Wines made from 100 per cent BC grapes are submitted to the BC Wine Authority for an assessment to determine if the wine meets BC VQA requirements and technical specifications set out in the Regulation. Only BC Wine Authority approved BC Wines are permitted to utilize the BC VQA appellation on their labels. Most importantly, the BC Wine Authority performs audits on all participating wineries and their BC grape suppliers, as well as inspections of retail outlets, to ensure that the wine standards and other requirements of the Regulation are being complied with - and thereby guarantees to consumers that if BC VQA appears on a wine label, the wine is 100 per cent BC grapes.