After a series of projects to promote BC Vintners Quality Assurance (VQA) wine through Buy Local and Export funding, the BC Wine Institute (BCWI) is watching sales soar in BC and beyond.

Perfect Pairings BC joined BC chefs and restaurants with sommeliers to educate consumers about BC VQA wine and local agrifood products through a series of farm-to-table style events and restaurant promotions throughout the province.

Wine and food pairing tips, recipes, and where to find the best wineries and restaurants in BC from local chefs and sommeliers are also available on their new website, winebc.com.

Led by renowned sommelier and wine educator Kurtis Kolt, the Wine Pairing Ambassador Program provided in-depth training to over 500 key trade members about BC VQA wines, varietal characteristics, the wine regions of BC, and wine and food pairing to help participants make BC VQA wine recommendations to customers and drive sales.

According to BCWI executive director, Miles Prodan, they have seen a 3.51% sales increase of BC VQA wine since the projects began.

Perhaps more importantly, the support they received to initiate the pilot programs is helping ensure long-term momentum.

“With the quality of materials we were able to produce with Buy Local funding, we know that the program is set for success and will continue to provide education about the bounty of wine and agrifoods our province has to offer,” says Prodan.

After a satisfying spike in domestic sales, the BCWI shifted their attention internationally.

With Export funding helping them pursue their target markets of the US Pacific Northwest and Hong Kong, they conducted a variety of promotional events including a wine tour in the Okanagan, a product launch in Seattle, a winemakers dinner in San Francisco, and a series of BC-wine paired dinners in Hong Kong.

“These markets make sense for earning international recognition that we produce super-premium wines,” says Prodan. “Thanks to the support we received for enhanced promotions, we’ve received additional listings and tremendous exposure through unpaid media coverage – within the first week of our product launch in Seattle, we received about $100,000 of unpaid coverage.”

Funding: $137,035 through the BC Government’s Buy Local Program (BL011, BL0280); $7,871 through the BC Agrifoods Export Program under Growing Forward 2, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative (EX010).