A dispute between BC wineries and Alberta liquor stores has caught the attention of the BC government.
Alberta’s government-owned spirits wholesaler has warned BC wineries that they will no longer sell their products in retail stores unless they stop shipping wine directly to consumers.
Roly Russell, BC’s Parliamentary Secretary for Rural Development, said in a statement Monday that it couldn’t come at a worse time, after the challenges of extreme weather.
“Over the past few years, our grape growers and wineries have faced unprecedented challenges from extreme weather events and the damaging effects of climate change. Our wine industry has been dealing with unprecedented crop damage caused by two extremely cold winter events with frost, wildfires and more,” Russell said in a statement.
“The causes of extreme weather are global – but their impacts are felt strongly here at home and many grape growers and wineries in BC are struggling with production shortages.”
Russell said Mike Farnworth, BC’s public safety minister and solicitor general, met with his Alberta counterpart to “urge them to stop what they’re doing.”
“This is just the beginning,” Russell said. “I know he is determined to achieve a result that will benefit our wine industry.”
Last month, Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis, which regulates the sale of spirits in the province by overseeing wholesale and distribution, sent a letter to winemakers in BC. It said the agency was investigating the practice of Alberta consumers ordering wine directly from BC. wineries instead of buying it from Alberta stores.
Last Wednesday, Wines of BC issued a statement calling for a resolution to the dispute.
“While we remain unclear on the political motive behind the recent AGLC letter, it is unfortunate for our local growers and producers who have already suffered significant financial hardship over the past year,” the statement said. “We are concerned that we are being targeted once again for political gain that has nothing to do with our industry.”
With files from Lauren Pullen of CTV News Vancouver and The Canadian Press