February 7, 2020
Are you an investor who dreams of owning and operating a winery? In British Columbia the opportunities are real, as is the potential to produce high quality, internationally competitive wines.
Over the past 30 years, British Columbia’s wine sector has transformed from a virtual unknown to an internationally acclaimed industry with a reputation for excellence. British Columbia wines were first recognized on the global stage in the mid-1990s when Mission Hill Family Estate became the first B.C. winery to win the International Wine & Spirit Competition IWSC Avery Trophy for Best Chardonnay in the World’. Now, every year, B.C. wines win hundreds of awards at national and international wine competitions and are considered amongst the best in the world.
British Columbia is home to nearly 370 licensed grape wineries, 929 vineyards, 10,260 acres of planted land and over 80 varieties of grapes. BC Wine Country, as it has become known, spans nine distinct geographic grape growing regions, and some of the best known include the Fraser Valley, Gulf Islands, Similkameen Valley, Okanagan Valley and Vancouver Island. The Okanagan Valley could be considered B.C.’s winemaking capital. Its good soil and warm dry climate with daytime summer temperatures reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), combined with the moderating effects of Lake Okanagan, which produce cool evenings, give Okanagan grapes and wines favourable characteristics.
The British Columbia wine sector continues to expand with new opportunities. Wine tourism is a growing and each year B.C.’s wineries welcome more than 1,000,000 visitors for winery tours, tastings and purchases. Provincial government policy changes are encouraging growth in the sector; for example, wineries can now sell 100% B.C. wines off the shelf in grocery stores, and local producers can sell their wines at artisan and farmers markets.
Starting a new winery, investing in or purchasing an existing winery can seem daunting. Fortunately, British Columbia has developed resources to make navigating the sector’s regulatory landscape of licensing, distribution, on-site sales and marketing more efficient. B.C.’s wine industry is growing rapidly, welcoming foreign investment, and is well supported by both the provincial and federal government.
To strengthen B.C.’s wine sector and support B.C.’s next generation of winemakers and investors, the Province of B.C. has funded the development of a wine sector resource guide. The guide will be published by the BC Wine Grape Council and available on its website this year. It will provide tips on getting into B.C.’s wine sector, comprehensive information on what is needed to run a business, links and descriptions of the agencies, associations and organizations that support the sector, supplier and service resources and regulatory agency information including links to forms, information, licensing and contacts.
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