We are excited to share our Celebrate the Wines of British Columbia Newsletter with you to highlight and review what the BC Wine Institute was up to during the First Quarter of Fiscal 2016. 

Through this newsletter, as well as our presence on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, we invite you to connect with the BC Wine Institute. Please feel free to give us your feedback at any time.
In This Issue
As the provincial government's recognized leading industry organization, the BC Wine Institute is facilitating the development of a provincial wine & culinary tourism plan intended to be inclusive of the entire wine tourism industry and will embrace BCVQA & 100% BC grape wineries, fruit wineries as well as farmers, chefs and restaurants.
Stakeholder engagement is an important part of building and implementing any plan. Exactly when and how stakeholders are engaged is critical to success. If we engage too early with just a high level strategy, we risk seeming to have not moved the issues forward and we risk generating such a broad and diffused range of ideas that we will be unable to meet expectations.  Alternatively, if we engage stakeholders too late in the process, we risk losing their support because we only asked pro forma and had already decided what to do.
Accordingly, over the summer, the BCWI undertook a process of public engagement workshops and qualitative research through a series stakeholders workshops through that provided great insight for the plan development and included the following regions:
  • South Okanagan 
  • North Okanagan 
  • Similkameen
  • Fraser Valley
  • Vancouver Island
The participants included representatives from the wine industry, culinary & tourism professionals and related stakeholders.
Insights from the workshops will be included in the development of a robust 3-year Action Plan. This plan would include goals, measurable outcomes, strategies and tactical recommendations. 
We are excited about the launch of our Buy Local program"BC VQA. Or You could call it BC DNA" earlier this summer. The program is designed to encourage BC wine consumers to show their local pride, support the Wines of British Columbia and enter to win an amazing multi-region BC Wine Experience.

Launched on July 11, "BC VQA. Or You could call it BC DNA"  appeals to British Columbians sense of local pride and drive home the message that when you choose a BC VQA Wine, you are enjoying a product that is 100% from British Columbia. The program features promotions in nearly 30 top Vancouver restaurants, 24 private wine stores in the Lower Mainland, and promotions and in-store tastings at BC Liquor Stores and BC VQA Wine Stores throughout the province.

In addition to the in-store events and branding, the BCWI is running a BC VQA Pour & Pair Contest on Instagram and Twitter (contest ends December 31, 2015) with a chance to win a fabulous five day multi-region BC Wine Experience for two (valued at $5,600). This amazing prize features Island-hopping on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands; float plane, paddle board and a Great Estates Okanagan tour in the Okanagan Valley; and a leisurely Similkameen River float wine tour. For full contest information, visit

To celebrate the launch of the program, BC VQA Wines were featured on the Global Morning News on Saturday, July 11 during their Saturday Sip segment and on Thursday, July 16 on Claire Newell's Travel Best Bets segment. We look forward to sharing the program results with you in the next quarterly report. 
The first quarter is an exciting time as wineries prepare for touring season, and media anticipate the release of the new vintages.  

From a media relations perspective, Spring is the time for pitching to media and this year, being the 25th anniversary of BC VQA we were busy telling our story to a combination of US, international and domestic media with a niche in wine and food focus, as well as broader lifestyle and travel media that will talk more broadly about the wine country tourism experience.
Media are looking to be the first to taste and critique the new spring releases, and the 2014 vintage was an exceptional year for BC wine. In support of our Spring Release events in Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Victoria, media relations focused on our 25th anniversary offering historical tastings of past and current BC VQA vintages to key media and trade in Alberta and BC through VIP seminars moderated by Tom Firth and Rhys Pender MW.

To provide an in-depth review of the 2014 vintage we also hosted a VIP Media Preview in Vancouver moderated by DJ Kearney with a panel of BCWI Member Winery winemakers for key media and trade including Sid Cross, Kurtis Kolt, Terry David Mulligan, and Janice Greenwood-Fraser (Travel Media Relations Manager, Destination BC).

During the first quarter our primary target export markets, the US and the UK were the focus of international media and trade events. Along with pitching to influential travel and lifestyle journalists at the annual Canadian Media Marketplace in New York the BCWI worked alongside Destination British Columbia to sponsor the welcoming and closing receptions highlighting the Wines of British Columbia to over 250 prominent print and television media from across North America.

To maximize exposure in the marketplace, the BCWI partnered with Alberta Culinary Tourism and Calgary Tourism to present a BC VQA wine-paired lunch and dinner at James Beard House to 44 key North American wine & food media and trade, as well as 68 consumers/Beard House members. 

In London, the Wines of British Columbia were showcased at the Wines of Canada tasting events with top international wine critics and journalists which resulted in international media coverage including a great write up from British wine critic Jancis Robinson.

In addition to these events was the announcement launching BC VQA Wines on grocery store shelves for the first time at the Wines of British Columbia Save-On-Foods South Point. A milestone for the BC Wine Industry, this generated a lot of buzz in the media. The BCWI issued two media releases on the events, which were picked up by over 20 publications and online news sources nationwide. 
The busy spring promoting BC VQA wine and the new vintage releases led to an exciting start to the 2015 wine touring season. The 25th anniversary will continue to be the theme of many of our media events, familiarization tours and activities throughout the summer as we invite national and international VIP media to experience 25 years of BC VQA! 

Due to the BCLDB reporting changes (effective April 01), we now only have litre statistics to share. From April to June, sales of BC VQA wine saw positive growth across the board. Here are some highlights from that three-month period:
  • Total Provincial Wine Market Share in BC averaged 14.56%, outpacing imports by over 10%
  • Total Market Growth over the previous year averaged 2.44%
The 2015 British Columbia Winery Touring Guide was released in May. Providing tangible guidance throughout British Columbia for visiting tourist and locals, the BCWI together with the Destination British Columbia are pleased to provide free BC Winery Touring Guides available in various outlets throughout the province: Wineries, restaurants, tourism associations, and more. Copies still available. Contact BCWI office if interested in requesting copies.

Our BC VQA Spring Release Tastings where hosted once again this year in both Alberta and British Columbia, drawing in key trade and media for the opportunity to meet with winemakers and taste their new spring releases.  
Discover Calgary and Edmonton had over 30 participating wineries in each city and, while Mother Nature threw us a curve ball with a bit of snow in Edmonton, we attracted key buyers from each city. Back in BC, Bloom Vancouver attracted over 90 wineries and Victoria over 75. Click the links below to view the attendee breakdowns.  

The BCWI "Get to Know Your Grapes" booth showcased several of BC's top planted varietals (Merlot, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and highlighted the growth and trends of BC's Wine Industry as we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of BC VQA and toast to our future growth. 

Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence
Over 150 guests filled the atrium of the Canadian Beef Centre of Excellence in Calgary, a unique new facility aimed at marketing Canadian beef to the world. The BCWI secured sponsorship of this grand gala opening having BC VQA Wines paired with various chef created beef stations showcasing the quality and diversity of BC Wines.(April 17)

Okanagan Wine Festival Media and Trade Tasting
The BCWI together with the Okanagan Wine Festivals Society was proud to present a wine tasting for local media and trade. Seventy-three wineries participated to pour their new 2015 releases as well as a selection of other wines to help educate local trade and media in building a better presence of our member wineries throughout the Interior of British Columbia. (April 29)
The British Columbia Wine Institute and was thrilled to work with the High Commission to the UK in London and Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada to showcase British Columbia at the May 14. Canada Calling event, held at Canada House, Trafalgar Square London. 15 BC wineries participated in the trade and media tastings pouring their wines for more than 115 key trade and media including Steven Spurrier, Jancis Robson, Hugh Johnson and Jamie Goode to name a few. BC wines shone brightly in the Canadian Wine Master Class, led by John Szabo MS, where flights of BC Pinot Noir, Syrah and Red Blends were poured for 22 influencers. Watching the group appreciation of our relatively unknown wine region unfold was very rewarding. Sommeliers were overheard talking about the Okanagan Valley as a must visit on their wine region list.
Following the success of the London tasting the Wines of British Columbia partnered with Destination BC and Tourism Vancouver to host nine UK based media for a 5-course British Columbia-inspired meal, cooked by Vancouver Chef Felix Zhou, paired perfectly with BC VQA wines. We are currently working with these contacts on upcoming articles and potential FAM tours.
During the month of June, the BC Wine Institute hosted 25 BC Wine Ambassador training sessions, reaching over 450 retail wine and restaurant trade in Vancouver, Victoria, Tofino, Prince George, Penticton and Kelowna.
These seminars were specifically designed to fill the BC wine gap left by traditional ISG and WSET courses and get restaurant and retail staff excited about the Wines of British Columbia. Facilitated by BC wine educator, sommelier and Georgia Straight wine columnist Kurtis Kolt, these seminars gave attendees an in-depth look at the Wines of British Columbia including regions and sub-regions, terroir, wine styles and wine and food pairing. The Level 1 course gave attendees a taste of 10 different BC wine styles to illustrate our diversity, while Level 2 offered attendees the chance to sip 4 BC VQA wines and 4 wines from noted international regions to illustrate how our wines stand up on the world scale.

Level 1 Survey Summary:
  • 91.43% Strongly agree and 8.57% somewhat agree that the program was enjoyable.
  • 97% Strongly agree and 3% somewhat agree that the instructor was knowledgeable and presented the information in a manner that was easy to understand and enjoyable.
  • 74.29% Strongly agree and 14.29% somewhat agree that they learned things about the Wines of British Columbia they did not know before.
  • 73.53% Strongly agree and 20.6% somewhat agree that they are more likely to recommend BC VQA Wines to their customers.
"Thank you! I learned so much and am very proud of the local products that I can now sell with ease. It's great to see such programs helping our local economy"
"I really enjoyed the 1 & 2 level Wine Ambassador classes that Kurtis put on. I was in the middle of my level 2 WSET at the same time so the timing was perfect. Most important for me was if you were hoping to get people on board (or back on board in my case) with BC wines you completely succeeded. The class was very accessible and really showcased what we have to offer. I've been a bit 'off' BC for a while and Kurtis did a fantastic job getting me back with plenty of understanding. Great work, consider me an ambassador."
Level 2 Survey Summary:
  • 90% Strongly agree and 10% somewhat agree that the program was enjoyable. 
  • 77% Strongly agree and 17% somewhat agree that the seminar expanded their knowledge of the BC wine industry as it relates to the world. 
  • 58% Strongly agree and 31% somewhat agree that they are more likely to recommend BC VQA Wines to their customers.
  • 82% Would highly recommend this course to industry colleagues
  • 100% Would like to attend more BC Wine seminars
"I teach ISG levels 1 & 2 and, as the ISG is so Old World focused, I found my understanding and knowledge of BC wines to be a little lacking. These courses helped to expand my knowledge of the wines in my own province."
"Just so impressed. Really walked away knowing even more than I thought I would."
Circulation for direct media initiated through the BC Wine Institute as well as indirect coverage for Wines of British Columbia and its members reached over 50 million people in eight countries during Q1.

Total media value for direct and indirect totaled $563,809. 

Highlights from April to June
This article ran following the BC VQA Discover Spring Release VIP seminar in Calgary.

This article ran following the lunch held at the James Beard House in New York. The paired lunch provided an opportunity for media and key trade in the market to taste BC VQA wine paired with food prepared by top chefs of Alberta.

BC wineries up London presence| The Drinks Business

Canada Shows Off in London|
These articles surfaced as a result from media relations focused in the Canada Calling events and Master Class in London.

Global BC TV spent a weekend on location in Kelowna while renovations were being done to their Vancouver studio.  The BC Wine Institute took advantage of the opportunity lining up a morning segment with Sonia Beeksma to promote wine touring season in wine country. Watch the segment on Global BC morning news.

The BC Wine Institute issued a press release announcing the launch of BC VQA Wines on grocery store shelves for the first time at the Wines of British Columbia Save-On-Foods South Point. The story was picked up by influential print and web publications nation-wide and here is just one of many articles that resulted from the press release and other media relations efforts of the BC Wine Institute around the subject.
Social media is a key component to media relations, reaching consumers, media and influencers worldwide, building and maintaining online relationships and keeping the Wines of British Columbia top of mind. 

During this period the BC Wine Institute hosted TV host of Love It or List It (Canada & USA), spokesperson for international brands, and social media guru Jillian Harris on a Wine Country FAM tour in an effort to grow the Wines of British Columbia social media profile and online exposure. In return she shared her experience through her social media platforms with a Wines of British Columbia "Instagram takeover", two blog posts on reaching over 230,000 followers and 2,000 plus unique monthly web visitors and more.

How To Wine Tour: Part 2|

How To Wine Tour: Part 1|

Click here to view the complete Social Media Report. 


In order to ensure the Wines of British Columbia stay top of mind in key markets and to ensure consumers and industry remain informed on issues affecting the industry, the BC Wine Institute regularly issues press releases to a group of more than 300 media primarily in Canada and the US.

The full list of press releases issued in the last quarter, and beyond, is located in's Press Room.
The BC Wine Institute currently has 149 member wineries and 10 grapegrower partners.
This quarter, we welcomed the following new members:

To view the complete list of members, click here.
British Columbia Wine Institute: Visit us online at (consumer) | (member & media)