It may come as no surprise to those of us in the Okanagan that BC produces some award winning wines, but now the rest of the world may have to sit up and take notice.
In an attempt to ensure BC can compete internationally, as well as on a domestic market, the Federal Government has announced an investment of $2 million to the grape and wine sector.
MP Ron Cannan for Kelowna-Lake Country made the announcement at Grey Monk Winery Tuesday, on behalf of Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz.
With this investment from AAFC's AgriInnovation Program, the British Columbia Wine Grape Council (BCWGC) will be able to better compete on both domestic and international markets. It will also help to meet evolving consumer demands and tastes and boost producers' bottom line by improving quality and yields, while reducing losses from pests and diseases, explains Cannan.
"The grape and wine sector is an important part of our economy in my riding of Kelowna–Lake Country and across Canada. Improving wine grape quality as well as controlling pests will boost the sector's competitiveness and exporter profitability."
This investment builds on previous support of $2 million provided to BCWGC under the Developing Innovative Agri-Products (DIAP) initiative, for a project to help improve irrigation and nutrient management in order to achieve the highest vine and fruit quality.
A wine maker for Grey Monk Estate Winery says the industry will stretch the money to include new research, but how long the money lasts will depend on each program.
“A lot of our research can’t be done in one year, it is not a one season thing. It has to be how the affects are cumulated over some of the years,” says Roger Wong.
“As much as you can grow a grape one year, you don’t see the results for another year or two years after that.”
Mike Watson, Chair of BC Wine Grape Council, says this investment allows the BC wine industry to work closely with scientists at PARC, the University of British Columbia, and UBC Okanagan to develop research programs where the results can be directly transferred to viticulturists and winemakers.
“This work will have a positive impact on the quality of wine produced, as well as the profitability and sustainability of our industry."
The AgriInnovation Program is a five-year initiative, worth up to $698 million under the Growing Forward 2 policy framework, which is designed to accelerate the pace of innovation by supporting research and development activities in agri-innovations.
The BC wine industry brought over $54 million in sales to the farm gate and generates exports of almost $8 million –- an increase of over $6 million during the past six years.