LAKE COUNTRY, B.C. – The Canadian government is investing $2 million to support British Columbia’s wine and grape sector.
The funding for the B.C. Wine Grape Council was announced by Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan in his home riding Tuesday, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
The money will help B.C. wine compete on domestic and international markets and meet evolving consumer demands and tastes. It will also go to research to improve quality and yields while reducing losses from pests and diseases.
“We have a different climate. We have a different soil. We have different disease pressures which are unique to the areas,” says Leo Gebert of St. Hubertus winery in Kelowna, who applauds the investment.
Grape growers and winery owners already pay $10 per tonne of grapes harvested annual to the B.C. Wine Grape Council to maintain industry research.
The industry is working on becoming more economically and environmentally sustainable.
“It’s really important to be soft as possible in the vineyards and to be environmentally responsible,” says Mike Watson, Chair, B.C. Wine Grape Council. “That’s using environmentally friendly products, reduced pesticides and things that are going to enhance the biodiversity in the vineyard.”
Ron Cannan says the industry has doubled grape production in the last decade and now has a $2 billion impact on the B.C. economy.
“I think it’s a great success story that we should all be very proud of,” says Cannan. “We need to raise our glasses and toast all those tourist who are coming in next month for spring wine festival.”
B.C. now boasts about 250 wineries and 10,000 acres of wine grapes.