Summerland wineries cheer new interprovincial wine agreement

An interprovincial trade agreement between Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec allows the purchase of wine between the three provinces.

Christa-Lee McWatters Bond

Christa-Lee McWatters Bond

An interprovincial trade agreement between Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec allows the purchase of wine between the three provinces.

On Friday, the three premiers announced an agreement making it easier to purchase Canadian wines that were not made in their home provinces.

“This is good news for Canadians who love B.C. wine, for B.C. wineries and the 10,000 British Columbians whose jobs depend on a strong and growing wine industry,” said Premier Christy Clark. “It’s a good example of what Canada’s three largest provinces can achieve when we work together.”

MP Dan Albas, Official Opposition Critic for International Trade, said the deal is an improvement, but further reforms are needed when it comes to the trade of alcohol.

““While Conservatives are happy to see some provinces respond to growing demand for Canadian wine by making their electronic ordering systems more convenient, it’s difficult to ignore that the whole issue of free trade of alcohol in Canada is a mess,” he said after the ruling was announced.

“There is clearly Canada wide disarray over the legality of interprovincial trade of alcohol.”

Earlier efforts have also been made to lift trade barriers between the provinces.

In 2014, an agreement was signed between Clark and Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, lifting barriers to interprovincial trade on wine and craft spirits.

The province has other wine agreements in place with Manitoba and Nova Scotia.

British Columbia’s wine industry has a $2 billion impact on the provincial economy, with more than 320 wineries in the province.

Christa-Lee McWatters Bond, president of the Bottleneck Drive group of wineries in Summerland, said the announcement is good for the community’s wineries.

“For the small producers, this is a huge win,” she said.

Bottleneck Drive represents 16 grape wineries, one fruit winery and two cideries.

The agreement will provide Summerland’s wineries with a much larger potential market, she added.

McWatters Bond said more work is still needed to improve interprovincial wine trade.

“We have not freed our grapes completely, but we are getting closer to freeing them,” she said.