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

Port Alberni’s Walk for Dog Guides has a new look, new route

Bosley’s comes on board as sponsor for May 27 event

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are past: Coulson

The famed Martin Mars air tankers continue to draw interest from potential… Continue reading

Alberni RCMP officers honoured for taking drunk driver off the streets

Constables Brian Kenny, Rob Jackson named to Alexa’s Team

Port Alberni man dies in single-vehicle collision

Pickup truck with three occupants went off the road on first day of May long weekend

Alberni hosts Island track and field championship

Secondary schools compete at Bob Dailey Stadium

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

Transportation Minister disappointed by BC Ferries plan to remove fuel rebates

Claire Trevena says she is ‘extremely disappointed’ by a plan by BC Ferries to remove fuel rebates

B.C. sues Alberta over bill that could ‘turn oil taps off’

Lawsuit is the latest move in the two provinces’ ongoing feud over the Kinder Morgan pipeline

Liberal government introduces measures to update Canada’s family laws

Justice officials say there have not been substantial updates to federal family laws in 20 years

B.C. mom threatens legal action against sunscreen company

Caleb Jordan, 6, was covered in blisters 20 minutes after using Banana Boat sunscreen

BC Games Society president to step down

Kelly Mann says it’s time for a change after 26 years with the society

B.C. politicians framed by anonymous sticky-note doodler

Insider has been posting caricatures from the B.C. legislature to social media

27 years since initial police probe, polygamist leader to be sentenced in June

Prosecutor recommend up to 6 months jail, defence asks for conditional or absolute discharge

Governments kick in cash for B.C. farmers, food processors

Ottawa, Victoria contribute $14 million over five years to help develop new products, processes

Most Read