Wine – OK British Columbia, get your hand out of the cookie jar / wine barrel

OK, so I’m a little opinionated at the best of times… however, this just makes me crazy. Basically, it centres around the taxes on wine in the province of British Columbia. While we were down in San Francisco at ZAP, we talked with a number of winemakers about the availability of their wines in BC. Many of them laughed and said things like “120% duty – why should I bother?” or “when they threatened to raise tariffs in the whole softwood fight, we thought what, to 140%?” This was a little disconcerting to say the least.

Last week the local news ran a couple of stories on the local wine industry and the taxes.
A comparison of provincial taxes was outlined, and the results were rather shocking to say the least. The average tax on an imported wine in BC is 117%!! This makes a $10 bottle of US wine hit the shelves at $26 here. This is simply tragic.

My understanding is that the taxes were originally brought in to help protect the BC wine industry. Well, with now 131 wineries in BC and annual sales apparently over 133 million dollars, perhaps they don’t need protection from the big bad import wines.

Let’s be honest, this is pretty much a cash grab now. When wines produced in this province are $2 cheaper per bottle in Alberta, we are being fleeced even when supporting the local industry. Even the center of the universe, Toronto, only faces 70% for a mark-up.

With the wine industry growing and more wine drinkers emerging in the 25-40 age group it’s time to hook people on the good stuff and not push people to the home brew route out of desperation. Friends don’t let friends do homebrew no matter what the news story said.

My answers? Ask your local MP what the deal is with the wine taxes. Maximize your two-bottle limit when you cross the line, and if you’re going to Alberta, let your wine friends know and take orders, they only tax approximately $5 per bottle.