It’s been called the B.C. Wine Institute for more than three decades, but the organization that acts as the voice of the wine industry has a new name.
“For the last 30 years we’ve been known as British Columbia Wine Institute, or the BCWI, but today it’s official — we’re now known as Wine Growers British Columbia,” said Miles Prodan, president and CEO, Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC).
Prodan told Global News Monday that the name change is an important move to better reflect the industry as a whole.
“Repositioning the organization as Wine Growers British Columbia is a significant step in keeping our industry moving forward and better reflects the B.C. wine industry as part of a complex value-added agri-food chain, and not simply a beverage alcohol product,” Prodan said.
“It’s important to recognize that the B.C. wine industry are farmers first and foremost,” Prodan added. “You cannot get anything in a bottle of B.C. wine without growing grapes and so it’s been some time that we developed and really it’s about the farming.”
The new identity follows a similar move about a year ago by the former Canadian Vintners Association, now known as Wine Growers Canada.
“From the consumer’s perspective it may not mean a whole bunch, but to us, when we deal with government and our other associations around the country, we’re recognized as the farmers we are,” Prodan stated.
WGBC continues to represent wineries across all nine wine-growing regions of B.C., which includes about 280 wineries, the majority of them in the Okanagan.
“The objective for the new name was to focus the provincial association image from simply representing the beverage alcohol sector to being identified as a socially-responsible, value-add agricultural contributor, representing and supporting grape growers and wineries as part of a family farm network,” said Erik Fisher, WGBC board chair.
The rebranding comes at a time when B.C.-made wine isn’t being consumed as much despite higher-than-normal alcohol sales, believed to be driven by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The B.C. portion is actually shrinking,” Prodan said. “So we suspect the reason for that is probably people trading down or looking for less expensive wine and the foreign import wines have a lot of cheap product that we just can’t compete with.”
Prodan said he hopes that the economic impact from buying B.C. wine is enough to persuade more consumers to think and act local.
“When you buy a bottle of B.C. wine, that generates $95 worth of economic impact,” Prodan said. “If you buy a bottle of import wine, it’s $16, so if you’re thinking of making a choice, and consumers have a choice … consider the B.C. farmer.”