Communiqué from the BC Wine Appellation Task Group meeting, March 31, 2015

Kelowna, BC – A constructive and cooperative first meeting took place among the members of the BC Wine Appellation Task Group in Kelowna, BC. Several subjects were discussed with Task Group pledging to work together to resolve longstanding issues affecting the growth of the BC wine industry sector.

The group undertook an open and frank discussion about the origins and composition of the Task Group. After the announcement by the BC Ministry of Agriculture about the creation of the committee, various groups and individuals came forward with concerns about the group’s independence and the representation of BC appellations.

Task Group members acknowledged these concerns and committed to steps that would ensure a transparent and wide-ranging BC wine industry consultation. Actions taken subsequently by the Task Group were to formally invite a representative from the Terroir BC group, a director of the Naramata Bench Winery Association, and a representative of the Fraser Valley region. The result is that John Skinner, Bob Tennant, and Eugene Kwan have accepted invitations to join the Task Group.

The Task Group confirmed that their role in the coming weeks will be to begin the process of listening to industry right across British Columbia throughout the five designated appellations of Okanagan, Similkameen, and Fraser Valleys, Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands, and in emerging wine producing regions such as Creston, Kamloops and Lillooet.

“We assembled a diverse group from the BC wine industry, and during the course of our first meeting we raised several controversial subjects,” says Ezra Cipes, Chair of the BC Wine Appellation Task Group. “I was heartened to see how much consensus we had in the room. I believe it is a hopeful sign of good things to come as we engage the wider industry.”

Key points of agreement from the Task Group were as follows:

  • Accept the Government of B.C.’s wish for the wine industry to have a cohesive and united vision for where we want the industry to go and work to achieve this.
  • Approval of the following Mission Statement:
    Engage the BC wine industry and use their input to recommend improvements on our system of appellations, and the certification for wine produced from 100% BC grapes.
  • That BC Wine Authority certification of origin should be mandatory.

The intent of the first board meeting was to bring as many of the potential issues around BC’s system of appellations that are known to be of interest to BC wine producers on to the table, and to signal a cohesive and cooperative industry consultation.

The Task Group thanks the Minister of Agriculture Hon. Norm Letnick for his personal greeting at the first meeting, and his ongoing support for this process. Additionally the group extends their appreciation to the BC Wine Institute Board of Directors, and Jeffrey Thomas, Chair of the BC Wine Authority for his participation and candid feedback. Finally, the group also thanks prominent BC wine reviewer Anthony Gismondi for his global perspective and his “consumers first” approach.

The work of the Task Group continues over the coming weeks. Updates on the Group’s progress will shortly be made available online at www.bcwinetaskgroup.ca.

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BC Wine Appellation Task Group

  • Ezra Cipes, Summerhill Pyramid Winery – Chair
  • Christine Coletta, Okanagan Crush Pad Winery
  • Bill Eggert, Fairview Cellars
  • Andy Johnston, Averill Creek Vineyards – Vice-Chair
  • Derek Kontkanen, Inniskillin Okanagan
  • Eugene Kwan, Chaberton Estate Winery
  • Ian MacDonald, Liquidity Wines
  • Christie Mavety, Blue Mountain Winery
  • Harry McWatters, Time Estate Winery
  • JAK Meyer, Meyer Family Vineyards
  • Rhys Pender, Little Farm Winery
  • John Skinner, Painted Rock Estate Winery
  • Bob Tennant, Terravista Vineyards
  • Don Triggs, Culmina Family Estate Winery
  • James Mack, Ministry of Agriculture