Industry Overview: Wine

Published: Jan 4, 2017
Last Updated: Feb 22, 2017

A toast to 2017! As you sip your champagne, make it a new year’s resolution to fill your glass with your own wine by this time next year. With 1.5 million winery visitors each year, British Columbia is rich with opportunity for wine-based businesses and eager viticulture entrepreneurs. In fact, the wine industry involves a variety of different activities from operating a full-fledged winery, growing grapes, running a wine specialty shop/u-bottle facility, or offering wine marketing services.  So don’t let your sparkling resolution get flat—explore this industry overview.

Industry Overview

BC

According to the Liquor Policy Review, British Columbians enjoy more than 234 million glasses (47 million bottles) of Canadian-made wine each year. Of the 47 million bottles of wine, British Columbians tend to favour white wines.  No matter the preference, however, British Columbians can easily find their favorites locally. As of 2016, British Columbia was home to 276 licensed wineries and five wine regions. These regions consist of the Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, and Gulf Islands. However, there are also as four emerging regions, including Shuswap, North Okanagan, Thompson Nicola, and West Kootenays.

Canada

Although growing, Canada’s wine industry is considerably smaller than the wine juggernauts of France, Italy, etc. Nonetheless, Canada’s wine industry is supported by tourism and its domestic market. Just as British Columbians prefer white wines, wine preferences vary across Canada. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada reports that, “in terms of still light grape wine, consumers across the country, especially in Quebec, prefer reds.

Industry Trends and Challenges

The Winerist blog lists a few interesting trends to look out for in 2017. One of which includes the “Bourbon Barrel Wine,” or wine that has been aged in refurbished bourbon and whiskey barrels. Likewise icewine, or wine made from frozen grapes, also continues to pledge promise for Canadian wineries. According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, “Canada is one of the world’s largest producers of icewine, a high-quality luxury item, considered to be the flagship product for Canadian wine exporters.” Additionally, organic wines continue to remain trendy, and of the near 300 wineries in BC, only eight are solely organic.

Of course, the wine industry is not without its share of challenges, too. The Vinters Quality Alliance (VQA), or locally the BC VQA in British Columbia, has strict wine regulations that can pose a challenge to large and small businesses alike. In fact, the BC VQA’s strict regulations regarding sales in grocery stores experienced conflict with US wine traders. Despite these regulations, British Columbia nevertheless saw a 12% growth in sales of BC VQA wines. Moreover, the British Columbia Liquor Policy has been approved for changes as of October 2016, and these will official take effect January 23, 2017. These changes may offer both challenges and opportunities for businesses selling liquor, such as those that act as a dual food and liquor business.

Resources

Associations

Magazines and trade journals

Directories

Suggested search terms

Wine and wine making | Wine industry | Wineries | Wine marketing | Viticulture Canada | Canada | “British Columbia”

Additional Resources

If you would like to access more resources, the Wine Guide is designed to help prospective and existing business owners gather information for their secondary market research. The guide is broken down into four main sections that cover how to start your research, industry information, competitive information and customer information. Depending on your needs you can spend as much or as little time as necessary in each section.

If you find that you need more guidance before starting your secondary research, check out our Business Research Basics Guide. It will help you focus on what types of information you will need to gather and why it is important.

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