The British Columbia Wine Authority (“BCWA”) is an independent regulatory authority to which the Province of British Columbia has delegated responsibility for enforcing the Province’s Wines of Marked Quality Regulation (the “Regulation”). We enforce the system of wine standards established under the Regulation and we authorize qualifying wines to use certain prescribed terms on their labels (including British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance, or “BC VQA”), as well as certain prescribed geographical indicators (such as Okanagan Valley). We provide assurance to consumers of qualifying BC wines that the wine is made from 100% BC grapes, and it is free from certain potential faults as specified in the Regulation. We play no role in the marketing or sale of BC wines.
Our authority over BC wineries is voluntary in that wineries choose whether or not they participate in our program. However, if any winery chooses not participate it cannot then utilize our BC VQA program, nor will they be permitted to use any other of our prescribed terms. For example, non-participating wineries cannot use any of the geographical indicators prescribed under the Regulations.
Currently, over 176 wineries participate in our program, representing approximately 75% of all licensed grape wineries in the Province, producing well over 95% of all wine produced in the Province. See the “Member Wineries” tab of a list of current participating BC wineries.
One of the BCWA’s primary functions is to operate a system of taste assessment panels to assess submitted wines and determine if they qualify for “BC VQA” status. These panels are comprised of trained taste assessors, independent of the wine and grape growing industries, who assess each wine by smell and taste to ensure the wines are free from those potential faults specified in the Regulation. These panels assessed over 1900 BC wines in 2015. The BCWA also performs audits on participating wineries and their BC grape suppliers, as well as inspections of retail outlets and non-member wineries, to ensure that the wine standards and other requirements of the Regulation are being complied with. See the “What is BC VQA” tab for further information on our BC VQA program.
The BCWA is governed by its Board of Directors, all of whom are required to be completely independent of the wine and grape growing industries. The Board hires management and staff, and generally oversees the BCWA’s operations. The BC wine industry has input into our operations through our Wine Industry Advisory Committee (“WIAC”), which is comprised of six BC wine industry representatives elected by different segments of the BC wine industry. See the “Who Are We” tab for further information concerning the BCWA’s Board, Staff and WIAC members.
The BCWA’s business offices and tasting facilities are located at Suite #120, 888 Westminster Avenue West, in Penticton. See the “Contact Us” tab for further information on our location and how to contact us.