Wine sales in B.C. top $1 billion for first time in 2014

Canadians to drink more wine, less hard alcohol by 2018: report

Vinexpo president Xavier de Eizaguirre believes Canadian wine consumption growth will be double that of the world as a whole

Wine sales in B.C. topped $1 billion in 2014 for the first time and that spending is expected to increase, according to an international alcohol research organization.

U.K.-based International Wines and Spirits Record (IWSR) released a report February 17 that projected that Canadians will drink 10.4% more wine and nearly 2% less hard alcohol by 2018. 

On a per-capita basis, Canadians will drink 4.1% more wine, or 16.4 litres of wine per adult in 2018, according to the report, named World Wine and Spirits Market with an Outlook to 2018.

IWSR ranked Canada’s US$6.1 billion wine market as being the seventh largest in the world.

“Over the next five years, Canada’s wine consumption growth rate will be twice that of the rest of the world,” said Vinexpo president Xavier de Eizaguirre in a statement.

His June festival, which sponsored the report, is held every other year in Bordeaux and is the world’s largest wine and spirits trade show.

Despite significant future growth expected, the report revealed that total wine sales in Canada only grew by about 2% last year. 

B.C. wine sales are increasing much faster, according to British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch (BCLDB) statistics released last month.

That data revealed that annual B.C. wine sales increased 5.68% to 68.9 million litres in 2014.

Sales for Canadian-made wines in B.C. are increasing at a faster pace than that for imported wine given that they increased 7.89% to 36.4 million litres, year-over-year, compared with import wine sales, which only increased 3.32% to 32.5 million litres in 2014 compared with 2013.

British Columbians are also spending more on their wine, on a per-litre basis.

BCLDB data shows that the amount of money spent on wine in B.C. increased 7.03% to $1.034 billion in 2014 compared with 2013.

This was the first year in which wine sales in B.C. topped $1 billion in spending.

Spending for Canadian-made wine in B.C. rose 8.9% to almost $470 million whereas spending for imported vino increased 5.51% to $564.8 million.

One of the reasons British Columbians may buy more wine per capita than other Canadians is that the province is home to the largest international wine festival in the country – the Vancouver International Wine Festival, according to that festival’s director Harry Hertscheg.

He added that the province's rapidly growing wine industry and its proximity to California also helps.

Hertscheg's 37th annual festival is holding a gala dinner and auction February 20 and then holds a series of dinners, tastings and seminars February 23 through March 1.

He believes that his festival has exposed British Columbians to a wide array of wines that has in turn fostered a culture of being open minded.

“Vancouver wine drinkers tend to be quite adventurous and are open to trying different wines,” he said. “Our annual wine festival encourages that and makes sure that people maintain that adventurous spirit.”

The main tastings at the Vancouver Convention Centre February 26, 27 and 28 will include approximately 170 wineries from 14 countries. Every winery will pour about four wines each.