Minister to examine fake 'made in B.C.' wines
The minister responsible for B.C. wines is promising to look into a practice where millions of litres of foreign wine are being dressed up to look like they might be from B.C.
CTV News raised the issue last week when it revealed so-called "cellared in Canada" wine is bottled by the three corporate wineries in B.C. and sold in liquor stores under banners that make it look like it's from here.
Some of the labels look just like those on 100 per cent B.C. wines, but the fine print reveals it's actually foreign wine.
Both Mark Anthony Group Inc. and Andrew Peller Ltd. tend to put something on their labels, however small, to tip off consumers. Vincor Canada, an official Olympic sponsor, just inserts in fine print a legally required phrase on its back labels indicating that the wine is cellared in Canada from imported and domestic wine.
None of the companies would speak to CTV on camera. Vincor said it is planning to change its labels to make them more transparent for consumers.
Smaller wineries are thrilled to see the controversial practice coming under scrutiny.
"It takes from the thrifty to give to the shifty," Dr. David Bond of the Association of B.C. Wine Growers, said.
"My members are really ticked-off to put in the most mild terms. Because they think it denigrates the image of B.C. wines, which it does.
The B.C. Wine Authority says there's nothing they can do because it is not in the business of regulating wines made from foreign grapes.
"Our program regulates wines that are made with 100 percent B.C. grapes," John Nixon said.
Some wine makers are worried the practice could put them out of business.
Walter Huber of Hainle Vineyards said he's frustrated at having to compete in a marketplace flooded by cheap imported product masquerading as B.C. wine.
"It makes it very tough for the small guys like us to try to go and stay in business."
"It's cutting into our sales. It's cutting into our market share."
But instead of pursuing it, the longtime wine maker is tempted to sell it all and walk away.
"I can always subdivide and sell the property, and just quit the winery"
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Kent Molgat