The economic impact of BC’s wine industry increased by a billion dollars in the five years prior to the pandemic before crashing as public health restrictions slammed the brakes on public events and social gatherings.
According to a study Wine Growers Canada and its member organizations including Wine Growers BC (WGBC) released earlier this month, the BC wine industry’s economic impact totalled nearly $3.8 billion in 2019, up from nearly $2.8 billion in 2015. Winery revenue topped $443 million on sales of 7,142,656 cases, up from $360.9 million on sales of 4,794,000 cases in 2015.
Planted area totalled 11,086 acres, up from 10,260 acres in 2015, with the average size of vineyards increasing as the number of growers fell by about 100. In 2015, there were 929 growers; in 2019, just 828.
But in 2020, the industry’s economic impact took a hit as tourism activity fell. Tourism accounted for about 22% of the industry’s economic impact in 2015, and that fell to just under 21% in 2019. With the pandemic, the impact of tourism fell by 65% to $275.5 million, down from $783.7 million in 2019.
The tourism impact is a particular concern for BC, where tourism is a more significant part of the industry than in Canada as a whole. According to the report, tourism is just 17% of the total economic impact of the national industry. That fell to just under 9% in 2020. The impact in BC fell to less than 8%.
While the industry has shown its resilience in the face of economic challenges the pandemic presented, as well as supply chain issues, labour shortages and extreme weather events, WGBC says government is needed to help it recover its momentum.
“These findings show that for the BC wine economy to re-capture the momentum and potential of its pre-pandemic growth, especially as it relates to tourism, strategic collaboration between government and industry will be required,” says Miles Prodan, president and CEO of WGBC said in a statement.
During the recent provincial budget consultations, WGBC asked the province for annual funding of $2 million in food and wine tourism marketing to attract 57,500 new visitors a year and generate $87.2 million in direct and indirect spending.