Crossing the Canada-U.S. border with B.C. wine

B.C. wine in the U.S.

As the B.C. wine industry matures and wines from around the province win more and more medals and recognition internationally, the refrain of “it’s too bad I can’t buy this in the U.S.” is becoming all too familiar from our friends south of the 49th parallel.

American visitors here can’t ship wine to themselves, and the number of bottles they can take back in their luggage is limited. But there is another option—Kascadia Wine Merchants in California.

Yes, the “Eureka!” state, or so says Wikipedia, meaning, “I have found it!.” Therefore, Eureka! You have found an online shop where your friends in America can purchase Canadian wine and have it shipped to them in America.

Industry folks who attended the Fortify Conference in Penticton this past November may have taken in a presentation by Kascadia’s founder, VJ Gandhi, or had a chat with her. VJ is a “proud Canadian citizen with epicurean taste” and a passion for supporting artisan winemakers and exposing them to the U.S. market.

This is not a small feat, and it is not a simple process, but it is possible.

From the consumer side south of the border, it’s as easy as online shopping. With 45 states now in the Kascadia portfolio and a robust marketing plan for each winery she brings in – each winery has its own page on the Kascadia site – the company has grown from the novelty of buying Canadian wine or servicing Canadian ex-pats, to inspiring wine lovers in the U.S. to buy wines from north of the border.

With restaurant clients, including a Michelin-starred spot in San Francisco where you can order a bottle from Oliver’s Winemaker’s Cut, plus both retail and wholesale clients, VJ’s goal is to see wines from Canada have the respect and recognition given to other wine-producing countries, like France or Australia.

And why not be this ambitious as an industry? We have the goods and we have the brand.

During the first year of the pandemic, Kascadia’s average purchase shot up from two bottles to hundreds of dollars spent on one sale, and in six months, VJ’s inventory was sold out.

For wineries, VJ and her team can walk them through the process to get their bottles into her online marketplace so this coming season, when a guest in a tasting room is disappointed he or she can’t get a wine back home in the U.S., wineries can confidently say, “Yes, as a matter of fact, you can.”

Upcoming Events

Feb. 4: Apex Mountain Resort – The popular winter wine event Vertical & Vintages returns to the Gunbarrel Saloon.

Through to Feb. 9: Multiple venues throughout the valley – Reserve a table or two at a favourite or new-to-you restaurant during Dine Around.

Through to Feb. 14: Multiple venues throughout the valley – Explore the flavour map for the second annual Okanagan Hot Chocolate Festival.

Through March: Grizzli Winery in West Kelowna — Book an icewine tour, available daily.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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