‘Government of Canada Invests in New Technology for Canadian Wine’,

… says the headline.


Not so fast.

The key words here are ‘Canadian wine.’

Andrew Peller Limited has received a $1.04 million interest free federal loan to upgrade (and effectively double) bag-in-box production at its wholly owned Calona Vineyards subsidiary in Kelowna, and at Andrew Peller in Grimsby Ontario.

Guess what?

All that production is ofCellared in Canada wines. That’s the term used by Canada’s big wine product manufacturers to get around saying that most, if not all, of what’s in the bottle (or box) not from BC or Ontario but from out of country producers who could be, well, anywhere, from California to Chile. (In BC up to 100 percent ‘Cellared in Canada’ content can be from offshore, in Ontario up to 70 percent.)

In truth, Canadian law requires a country of origin to be shown on all wine sold in the country, something which has for too long been conveniently overlooked by the regulatory authorities. Read what wine/legal guru Mark Hicken says.

What’s wrong with this picture is not so much the loan itself (although some question that too) but the message it sends, both at home and abroad: that the Government of Canada continues to fully support the notion that wine doesn’t need to be from any place in particular; and the idea that the consumer also doesn’t need to understand the specific niceties of origin and all that entails. Bulk wine imported from anywhere in the world is labelled as ‘Cellared in Canada.’ That’s it.

In short, it’s what continues to make us the laughing stock of the wine world.

Think I’m kidding?

One of the world’s most influential wine authorities, Jancis Robinson calls it ‘The Canadian Con’.

The point is that this ‘repayable contribution’ is all about subsidizing the production of juice from everywhere but BC.

According to Castanet.net, here’s what Kelowna-Lake Country MP Ron Cannan had to say when the loan was announced…

“More and more Canadians are recognizing the quality of Canadian made wines,” says Cannan, adding that he hopes more competitive pricing means more local wines on Canadians’ tables.”

Notice how—although this initiative has nothing whatsover to do with VQA, or 100 percent grown in BC wines— the M.P. brings up the topic of ‘Canadian made’ wines—and calls them ‘local’ too.

Not surprisingly, a few people in the Okanagan are pretty steamed about this…

The typical industry spin is to suggest that the competitiveness of Cellared in Canada wines (which account for every 4 out of 5 bottles of ‘Canadian’ wine sold) is vital to the continued improvement of their VQA,100 percent BC or Ontario grown wines.

Sorry. We no longer buy it.

Somehow, that line is wearing just a little thin—especially given the proliferation of smaller wineries,entirely focused on making 100 percent Canadian wines, who have to compete with the unfair advantage delivered by such subsidy.

The ‘repayable contribution’ (ahem, loan) is being made through the AgriProcessing Initiative … which is ‘designed to enhance the competitiveness of the agri-processing sector in Canada.’

But as to the government’s claim that “Through Canada’s Economic Action Plan (EAP), the Government of Canada is helping farmers find new markets.”

Farmers? Whose farmers? In this case, at least, not Canada’s.

Last year in Spain, we visited La Purisima, a large co-op in Yecla, who told us they were already selling a considerable volume of (well made) wine to a Canadian client. Two things occurred to me at the time. The first was that it was a shame such affordable Monastrells weren’t being imported and sold as such, under the regional label, to show the evolution that had taken place. Secondly: that it remains the height of deception for the majors to sell these wines, blended or otherwise, under the guise of being ‘Canadian.’

 Related: Summerhill Boxed in …