British Columbia Ministry of Agriculture
The British Columiba Wine Authority is a voluntary organization, but regulatory in nature if you are a member.
The British Columbia Wine Authority, or BCWA, is the independent designated regulatory body in the Province of British Columbia that has the responsibility of managing and enforcing the system of wine standards established under the Province’s “Wine of Marked Quality Regulation (the Regulation)”. The BCWA oversees the BC Vintners Quality Alliance program (BCVQA), ensuring that the wines produced across BC are of marked quality, meet the labeling regulations, and use the correct geographical indicators for wines made from grapes in the different regions of our province. Membership in the BCWA is voluntary.
The BCVQA program is an appellation of origin system, (Geographic Indication or GI in British Columbia) similar to the AOC and DOC systems utilized in France and Italy respectively, and it guarantees origin and ensures that qualifying wines meet certain minimum quality requirements.
- The BCWA conducts the BCVQA sensory panels, to ensure the wine is fault free, and certifies the wines as BCVQA.
- A wine needs to be certified BCVQA to use the appropriate Geographic Indication's (GI's) on the label independent of the sales channel (i.e. BCVQA stores). A winery needs to certify its wine to use the GI, even if selling only through their own wine shop.
- The BCWA has a separate function than the BCWI (BC Wine Institute) who operates the BCVQA stores and therefore is separate from the fees charged by the BCWI to market their wine.
- The wine industry as a whole suggests amendments to the Regulations, through the WIAC committee. Any amendments are put forward in a plebiscite and voted on by all BCWA members. The vote has to pass a double majority, meaning 2/3 of the members and at least 50% of winery production must vote in favour.
- Certify wines as “BCVQA” or “Wines of Distinction”.
- BCWA conducts sensory panels to certify wines as BCVQA.
- Regulates the use of Geographic Indicators (GI’s) and Sub GI’s (i.e. Okanagan Valley and Golden Mile Bench).
- Registers, at no cost, all growers in the province to prove origin (this includes wineries with vineyards).
- Review labels, lab results and production methods to ensure compliance with “Wines of Marked Quality Regulations”.
- Certifies analytical laboratories for tests required for wines to become BCVQA.
- Conducts inspections of BCVQA wine to ensure 100% BC grapes and production methods are in compliance with the Regulations.
- Regulates Icewine and Late Harvest registration and production standards as per the Regulations.
Reporting includes Winery Registration and annual crop registration, grower registration, BCVQA sensory panel submission, Late harvest, and Icewine registration and laboratory certification:
Benefits of Joining
Promotes "Truth in Labeling" by ensuring production and labeling conventions set out in the Regulations are followed throughout the BC Wine Industry.
Licensed wineries in British Columbia are welcome to become members of the British Columbia Wine Authority. Members receive voting privileges for plebiscites to amend the Regulations.
Membership includes the right to use the following regulated terms:
- Geographical indicators smaller than Product of Canada (i.e. British Columbia, Okanagan Valley, Golden Mile Bench, Naramata Bench etc.)
- Late Harvest
The BCWA is the recognized Regulatory body for International Sales (EU).
Costs of Joining
Members pay a flat “all-inclusive” fee, covering the cost of membership, grape levies, audits, and wine certification.
Two flat fee options include:
- $300 – up to 20 tonnes, includes levy and 5 wine submissions for BCVQA
- $650 – up to 40 tonnes, includes levy and 8 wine submissions for BCVQA
Over 40 tonnes – the grape levy is $10 per standard ton, $65 for inspection fee and $100 per wine submission for BCVQA sensory panel.
As soon as a winery receives its license it can register to join the BCWA