Several winery tractors travelled through Penticton Thursday, with a message they want everyone to hear loud and clear.
The goal of the convoy, which ended up at MLA Dan Ashton's office, is to pressure the provincial premiers to remove the antiquated barriers to trade of BC wines within Canadian borders once and for all.
"We are here at the protest today to free our grapes. Basically there's inter provincial barriers between the provinces on shipping," said David Enns, owner of Laughing Stock Vineyards. "Just over a year ago federal bill C-311 was introduced to allow free transfer of wine between provinces and two of the provinces, BC and Manitoba, have taken to heart what the bill wants us to do, which is to remove prohibition era barriers to wine transfer between provinces. This isn't inter-country, just between provinces. The holdouts are the rest of Canada."
The colourful convoy, emblazoned with signs saying "free my grapes" and "BC wine for Canadians, was loaded with a cargo of wines that make up the Naramata Bench Wineries Association's Best of the Bench collection.
Members of the association delivered the case of wine on Thursday to Ashton's office with the goal of it getting passed on to Premier Christy Clark. Ashton was not in attendance, but Dick Knorr from his office received the case.
The plan is for Clark to then take the wine to the Council of Federations in Niagara, July 24 to 26.
"Premier Clark, like any other Canadian visiting Naramata today from out of the province will have to smuggle the case of Naramata's finest to Ontario to simply gift each premier with a motivating bottle," said Miranda Halladay from Elephant Island Winery, who handed the case to Knorr. "It seems crazy that Canadian consumers cannot enjoy Canadian made and grown wine.
The U.S. went through a similar exercise five years ago and the data exists to support the clear benefit to consumers, to wineries and to local economies."