With this year’s wine grape harvest set to be as much as 50% below normal, industry advocacy group Wine Growers BC is toasting recent measures by the province to support hard-hit wine producers.
WGBC says the “well-documented ‘crop failure’” the industry is suffering this year as a result of an extreme cold snap last December and wildfire smoke this summer means the BC Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch will exempt wineries on a case-by-case basis from the requirement to produce 4,500 litres of wine a year.
Crop failure and events beyond the control of applicants are among the reasons why wineries may be exempted from the requirement, according to the province’s Liquor Control and Licensing Regulation.
In addition, the BC Liquor Distribution Branch will consider exempting land-based wineries – again, on a case-by-case basis – from the requirement to source at least a quarter of their fruit from owned or leased land.
“[It] may require evidence that your owned or leased crops have sustained damage that prevent your winery from meeting the 25% criterion,” WGBC states, noting that some wineries may need to apply for exemptions over several years until fruit production recovers.
While many producers are hoping for an AgriRecovery package to help the sector rebuild, government has so far been silent.
Nevertheless, WGBC expressed thanks to provincial officials for their assistance in the face of what it describes as “several unprecedented challenges” to the sector’s existence.
“We look forward to continued cooperation as the combination of climate change-related freezing, wildfires and disease pressure has severely impacted the short and long-term crop and placed many wineries and growers in financial stress and an uncertain future,” WGBC said in a statement.