B.C. wine boycott will have an immediate and negative effect on Okanagan wineries: Industry spokesperson

Okanagan wine industry representatives say the disappearance of B.C. wines from Alberta retail shelves will have a negative effect on the industry in the valley.
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PENTICTON - Okanagan Valley grape growers will feel the effects of Alberta’s decision to boycott B.C. wines, say local industry representatives.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s announcement yesterday, Feb. 6,  of a boycott of B.C. Wines was in retaliation to the B.C. government’s decision last week to restrict increases in bitumen shipments from Alberta until more spill response studies are conducted.

Notley said Alberta imports 17-million bottles of wine, worth $70-million annually from B.C. wineries.

The decision will have an immediate and negative effect on local growers, says B.C. Grapegrowers Association President and Naramta's Bench 1775 Winery General Manager and Winemaker Valerie Tait.

She says Alberta customers are significant supporters of the winery’s products and make up most of the visitors to the winery during the tourist season.

“By boycotting B.C. wines in Alberta, our family-owned winery is going to be hurt financially as well as other B.C. wineries. I can only hope our politicians come to a resolution and this potential trade war doesn’t grow,” she says.

The B.C. Wine Institute responded to Premier Notley’s announcement with an open letter to its members, calling the boycott, “disturbing.”

The institute said it will continue to pressure political leaders in Alberta and B.C. to "communicate the critical nature of resolving this dispute.”

The wine institute has also contacted the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission and have confirmed anyone with a booked “Advance Shipping Notice” will have wines accepted by Connect Logistics until Feb. 14.

Connect Logistics Services Inc, are responsible for the warehousing and distribution of Alberta’s liquor products.

The wine institute is also asking winery owners to submit on- or off-record feedback regarding how the boycott will impact their winery.

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