Averill Creek Vineyard owner and manager Andy Johnson said it’s too early to tell whether the attitude in Alberta will translate into a dip in sales from from his winery. (Averill Creek Vineyard)

UPDATED: Alberta’s wine ban won’t impact Vancouver Island producers

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s political spat that has pitted bitumen against sauvignon blanc doesn’t appear like it will have a direct impact on Vancouver Island wine producers, at least for now.

Notley announced on Tuesday that her province will stop the import of wine from B.C. until the NDP government suspends its efforts to place restrictions on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission is expected to step up enforcement of wine sales from B.C., impacting larger industry producers such as those in Okanagan but not the dozens of others in the Cowichan Valley and elsewhere on the Island.

RELATED: Alberta to stop importing B.C. wine in pipeline feud, premier says

RELATED: Trudeau talks to premiers about pipeline battle

Averill Creek Vineyard owner and general manager Andy Johnson said his Duncan-based winery ships upwards of a few hundred cases a year to private buyers in the neighbouring province.

“Whether or not the attitude in Alberta will reduce the number of sales we make to Alberta, I have no idea,” he said. “It is a very quiet time of year for us so it’s really not making a lot of a difference. When we do the spring sale that happens in April we’ll have a better idea of how things are going to go.”

Vancouver Island wines also aren’t being sold in any Alberta restaurants.

“There’s nobody big enough (on Vancouver Island). You really have to be a good size to have an agency looking after your wine in Alberta. There’s no money in it for the small guys, there’s no margin,” Johnson added.

According to the B.C. Wine Institute, 30 per cent of all wine sold in Alberta is from B.C., with a retail value of $160 million. The province also accounts for 11 per cent of the BC VQA market.

Layne Craig, the owner of 40 Knots Vineyard and Estate Winery in Comox, said the ban won’t have much of an impact over the short term but there’s the potential for him to loose upwards of $100,000 if Notley was also to ban the direct sales of wine going forward.

“We have many, many customers in Alberta..if she does ban direct sales that stops all my wine club members from receiving their wine – that’s a fair bit of cash for me right there,” Craig said, adding that he ships a few hundred cases to the province annually and has ties to the Prairies. “The other thing this is going to be is that it’s going to begin to cannibalize the B.C. market because the closer you the better the profitability.”

The Institute’s president and CEO Miles Prodan said he was “disappointed” with boycotting wineries “over a yet-to-be-determined British Columbia government policy in a different sector.”

“A working free-trade relationship between Alberta and British Columbia is imperative to securing economic well-being for Canada,” he said. “We are disappointed that this political decision is threatening our progress and threatening the successes that have benefited small businesses in both the Alberta and BC economies.”

The B.C. government has moved to place restrictions on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline expansion and has said it will restrict increased shipments of bitumen while it further studies the effectiveness of spill response and cleanup, as part of phase two in its oil spill response plan.

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will triple transportation of oil from 300,000 barrels a day to 900,000.

Nanaimo’s Matt and Natalie Riga operate Chateau Wolff Estate, a five acre family-run winery and vineyard set against the backdrop of Mount Benson.

Operating as more of a boutique producer with buyers on Vancouver Island and in Vancouver, the Rigas aren’t caught up in the politics but were “shocked” to hear the news and feel a ban hurts the industry as a whole.

“I think we’re a nation and we try to support everything as micro as we can but at the same time we are part of the same country and I think we should be working together rather than splitting difference,” Natalie said.

“I think if anything it’s a shame for the people of Alberta because they’re missing out on some really lovely wine and as an alternative they’re probably going to be buying international which doesn’t help anyone in Canada.”

Speaking to reporters on Thursday afternoon, Premier John Horgan said he wouldn’t be “distracted” by the “retaliatory moves” of the Alberta government.

“I’m not responding in any way other than saying I’ll defend our wine industry. I’m here for B.C., not for Alberta,” he said.

“I’ve spoken with the prime minister and the premier of Alberta. I’ve made it clear to both of them that the interests of British Columbians are my priority, nor will I be distracted by the events happening in other jurisdictions.”

Still, Johnson said he feels the optics of the dispute between neighbouring provinces isn’t positive.

“I think it says a lot for Canada, how bad we are that she’s using those words ‘we’re banning the import of British Columbia wine’ just as if to say ‘we’re banning the import of American wine, or French wine or any other kind of wine. How can you ban something within a country?,” he said.

Just Posted

Victoria Police arrest man in relation to indecent act at Beacon Hill Park

The man is known to police, and is facing three charges

Victoria woman sets date to swim the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Susan Simmons will attempt to be the first to swim the Strait twice starting Saturday afternoon

Three Sooke firefighters sent to Interior

Three local firefighters answer the call to help to fight wildfires. Sooke… Continue reading

Metchosin construction site closed for police investigation

Closure believed to be linked to something found at DND site

LETTERS: Shots at my cat concerning

He is my pal, friend and buddy, so when someone shoots him… Continue reading

Happy birthday Boler: An anniversary gathering of the cutest campers in Winnipeg

Hundreds of the unique trailers in Winnipeg to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manitoba invention

Five things to do in Greater Victoria this weekend

Puppy yoga, horses, cars, water guns and more make up this weekend’s list of events to see

Canada’s tax system unfairly favours wealthy, poll of CRA auditors suggests

Four of every five respondents think loopholes and tax credits built into the system benefit the rich

Banff’s Sunshine ski resort upset with proposed guidelines from Parks Canada

The plan would allow for more visitors but wouldn’t let Sunshine build additional facilities

Conditions improve for battling northwest B.C. wildfires, minister says

‘Self-evacuated’ people fleeing smoke advised to go home

UPDATED: B.C. matching Red Cross donations for victims of wildfires

Donations being taken by many organizations, BC Hydro waiving bills

Woodpecker goes out with a bang, starts grassfire in B.C. city

Untimely death of woodpecker causes power outage in Cawston

Communities on evacuation alert in many areas of B.C. as wildfires flare

Warning was issued for 583-square-kilometre blaze that has charred Fraser Lake to Fort St. James

Most Read