Wine award debacle

Some BC winery owners are scoffing at an Ontario MP's invitation to a competition that excludes the majority of BC wineries from participating.

John Skinner, owner of Painted Rock winery in Penticton, which was not invited, said the idea was ill-conceived and laughable.

"It's sad and creates more problems than it solves," Skinner said. 

Eve Adams, member of parliament for Mississauga-Brampton sent a letter that invited several wineries in BC to participate in the Great Canadian Parliamentary Wine Competition.

"The winning wineries will be invited to sell directly to parliamentarians and staff, cases of the wine for gift giving," says the letter.

Unfortunately trade barriers under current law prohibit wineries that do not have listings with the Liquor Control Board in Ontario from shipping wine there.

Adams says that the competition was supposed to be casual and that the letter was mistakenly sent to some wineries. 

"It should have only gone to those that are listed," Adams said in an interview. "LBCO decides which wines are available for purchase to Ontarians. They do have over 50 wines from British Columbians in Ontario representing 30 wineries. 

"Unfortunately in this instance, that winery (Elephant Island) is no longer listing with LCBO."

Adams was unsure whether Tinhorn Creek was listed with the LCBO.

Tinhorn Creek's owner Sandra Oldfield was more certain.

"This request is wrong in so many ways but mostly because...um...WE CAN'T LEGALLY DO IT," she said in a tweet.

Rob Ingram is the owner of Perseus Winery in Penticton, also not invited to the competition. He said setting restrictions on who can win a federal wine award goes against the whole idea of such an award.

"Part of the reasoning to these things is to make wineries across Canada available overseas and to be showcased in embassies and things of that sort," he said. "Why would they restrict it to just that? (Wineries already listed by the LBCO) All of us are entitled to sell into Ontario, it's just a matter of getting an agent to arrange it."  

Skinner said Michelle Rempel, Minister of state for Western economic diversification and a group called Terroir BC have been working towards a Governor General of Canada award for wine. 

"If they want to do some sort of Canadian wine awards, it should be the Governor General award," he said. "Suddenly coming out with this Parliamentary Wine Award seems like it's usurping the idea."

"Some people need to understand the important issues at stake here. We have got to tackle the big issues and work together on these things."



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