Fraser Valley wineries respond to Alberta premier’s sour grapes

Winery operators shocked to be caught in the middle of pipeline dispute

Langley wineries are watching closely to see how Alberta premier’s Rachel Notley’s sour grapes will play out for their industry.

This week Notley announced that her province would stop importing B.C. wines after the NDP government announced a decision to halt progress on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

The ban could cost the B.C. industry as much as $17 million.

Backyard Vineyards owner Michelle Yang got the unsettling news on Tuesday that the Alberta Premier was trying to ban B.C. wines from her province.

Backyard Vineyards, at 3033 232 St., has enjoyed growing success, delivering award-winning wines that are now available at select grocery stores.

Yang said she spoke with her wine distributor in Alberta, but they were unsure of what exactly is happening there with B.C. wines.

“We are quite anxious. We do have wine in Alberta and we don’t know if they will pull our stock and send it back? Right now, no action is being taken so we will have to wait and see.”

Yang said their focus is mainly on B.C. wine drinkers, but she does wonder why the wine industry was targeted.

“Why are we being dragged into a political conflict,” she asked.

In the meantime, Backyards’ wine maker James Cambridge is busy bottling this year’s pinot gris, and it’s even better tasting than last year, said Yang.

Jason Ocenas, manager of Township 7 Winery in Vineyards, said they were surprised to be caught in the middle of a dispute over pipelines.

“It’s still too early to know if this is really going to happen and if so, for how long, to see if it impacts us. But if this really is going to be a trade war, it will hurt B.C. wines,” said Ocenas.

Watching this political power struggle play out is ‘crazy,’ he said.

READ HERE: B.C. Premier Responds

“We are in the same country, we are supposed to be united. I can see having trade disputes with other countries, maybe, but from province to province? And then I hear Alberta might ban B.C. beer next. How ridiculous. Do we then cancel Alberta beef?”

To add a bit of levity to the situation, Ocenas suggests that there should be a pipeline of wine flowing from province to province.

“We could ship wine via a pipeline,” he joked. “Nobody would dispute that.”

As for Township 7, which has a winery and a vineyard both in Langley and in Naramata and has served their wine to the Queen of England, it will remain business as usual.

“I actually had a guy in yesterday (Tuesday) who specifically came in to buy half a case of our wine before he heads back to Alberta,” he said.

Oceans said British Columbians are loyal to this province’s wines.

“It’s a good thing B.C. people love B.C. wine. We are a little winery with great customers.”

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Jason Ocenas, manager of Township 7 Winery

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