LAKE COUNTRY – They’re some of the deepest roots of the Okanagan economy and while international exports for the wine industry are booming, it’s a very different story here at home.
It might surprise you that you can’t buy wine from BC and ship it to most provinces in the country, even though two years ago the government changed federal laws giving the green light to cross country shipment.
The power is in the hands of each province and territory to decide if it wants to open its doors for trade.
Right now it’s only BC and Manitoba playing ball, but Canada’s industry minister, James Moore, insists that’s all changing.
Moore was in Lake Country Friday touting the conservatives ‘new aggressive approach’ to open up trade. He participated in a roundtable discussion with ministers and winery owners to hear their concerns and a meeting is scheduled this summer to discuss new trade policy.
Local grape growers are frustrated that two years have passed and no changes have been made.
“It’s all talk and no action,” says Gray Monk winery owner, Trudy Heiss, “Alberta actually sent us..about a year and a half ago sent us a threatening letter.”
But Heiss is still cautiously optimistic the barriers will be broken down.
The BC government is also optimistic this latest push points to good news but “obviously the province is disappointed and a little frustrated with the progress on this,” says Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson.
While winery owners the federal and provincial governments all agree free trade is in everyone’s best interest, the real question after two years of promises, is when.