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BC Wine Industry Continues to Grow with BC VQA Wine-In-Grocery Coming to Kelowna

November 17, 2015

For Immediate Release:
November 17, 2015

KELOWNA, BC - Longstanding BC VQA Wine Stores, Discover Wines in Kelowna and the BC VQA Wine Shop at the Kelowna Wine Museum announced their support to move into grocery stores today with the Overwaitea Food Group anticipating BC VQA Wines to be showcased and sold for the first time in Kelowna grocery stores pending BC Liquor Control and Licensing Branch approval. The stores will remain open in their existing locations until dates and new locations are determined early in the New Year.

Since the Province of BC's new liquor regulations took effect on April 01, following the government's province-wide Liquor Policy Review, there have been three wine-in-grocery stores opened in the lower mainland, stocking and selling 100 per cent BC VQA Wine on their grocery store shelves. The third of these opened in Tsawwassen on November 12, almost two months after the Fleetwood location in Surrey opened in September, and now BC VQA Wines-in-grocery will be soon available for consumers in Kelowna.

Under the new legislation, grocery stores fitting criteria laid out by the Province of BC may offer BC VQA Wine products for sale on designated shelves under a third party operator arrangement with the BC Wine Institute (BCWI), which holds longstanding licences to operate BC VQA-only stores.

"More wine-in-grocery stores are opening across BC and we are pleased to see BC VQA Wine become even more accessible to consumers right here in Wine Country," says Miles Prodan, President and CEO of the BC Wine Institute. "It's about expanding the success of our BC VQA Stores and giving consumers the convenience and access to a larger selection of BC VQA Wine that is grown and made 100% in BC to pair with other favourite BC agriproducts."

In 2003, Discover Wines was among the first businesses to operate under the current BC VQA licence model, and today they describe the move into grocery stores as the next evolution of the BC Wine Industry. "We chose to make available the transfer of our BCWI BC VQA Wine store operating agreement to the Overwaitea Food Group not only because they are local, but also understand the importance of supporting BC growers and producers. They have a long history of connection to local customers and communities and with helping growing companies expand their products in the market," states Tracy Gray, Owner of Discover Wines Ltd. "I've always said that we have the best team, the best suppliers and the best customers and I want to give each a heartfelt thank you. The BC Wine Industry is evolving and we look forward to seeing how everyone will continue working together to strengthen business for BC Wines."

In recent communications Linda Digby, Executive Director at Kelowna Museums Society stated, "The BC Wine Museums & VQA Wine Shop were innovative models of community engagement that attracted visitors to a heritage building, exposed them to historical displays and ignited greater interest in BC Wines. They have been an asset to Kelowna's Cultural District for 19 years. Now, Kelowna Museums Society is re-focussing on its core mission with plans to develop the Laurel Packinghouse and the Wine and Orchard Museums into a compelling heritage destination. Kelowna Museums Society looks forward to forging new relationships with the Wine Industry as we renew our focus on wine museum displays and programs."

Andy Gebert, Owner of St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery in Kelowna, and one of the pioneering wineries of the BC Wine Industry, is a strong supporter of the BC VQA channel. "The BC VQA Wine Store channel has always been a very special venue for the Wines of British Columbia," Gebert remarks. "We look forward to welcoming a new BC VQA Store operator in Kelowna and will continue to support these operators in providing great BC VQA Wine to the community."

THE FACTS: 100% BC Wine-in-Grocery

* There are 21 BCWI BC VQA licences today and in early 2016, the BC government will auction an estimated 24 "Bill 22 - Special Wine Store Licences" making a maximum of only 45 "wine on shelf" licences possible for the entire Province. In total, these licences represent about 2.5% of retail outlets in the Province.

* Currently, wine-in-grocery stores with BC VQA licences carry nearly 1000 100% BC VQA Wine products from over 150 wineries.

* More than 50% of wine-in-grocery sales are from small wineries not carried by the Liquor Distribution Branch, meaning that these wines and wineries are being exposed to the marketplace in a meaningful way for the first time thanks to this new sales channel.

* BC VQA is growing faster than any other wine category in the marketplace. Total BC VQA Sales Growth over the previous year averaged 15%.

* Total Provincial Wine Market Share in BC average 14%, outpacing imports by nearly 10%.

* Winery Direct sales and tourism is at an all-time high with 30% of BC VQA wines sold directly from cellar doors in 2015.

* The number of wineries and wine regions in British Columbia is at an all-time high including: 256 grape wineries; five designated viticultural areas (wine regions); one sub-appellation; and four emerging wine regions.

* The acreage planted in the ground is at an all-time high at 10,260 acres.

About the BC Wine Institute

Since 1990, the BCWI has played a pivotal role in taking BC's wine industry from a vision to an internationally recognized niche region producing premium wines and providing exceptional wine tourism experiences. The BCWI markets the wine and regions of BC; delivers quality trade, media and consumer tastings; and acts as the voice of BC's wine industry by advocating to government on behalf of industry that contributes $2 billion in provincial economic growth annually.

The BCWI represents all wineries in British Columbia to grow the premium market share for the Wines of British Columbia, while driving awareness of our world-class wine tourism product - currently drawing 800,000 visitors with $476 million in tourism and tourism employment related economic impact every year.

The BCWI's voluntary membership consists of 151 member wineries whose dues enable participation in various trade and consumer promotional events and retail marketing activities here in BC, across Canada and in select international markets, exclusively featuring BC VQA (100% BC) Wine. BCWI members produce 94% of BC VQA Wine sold in British Columbia.

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