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Kelowna-West MLA urges government support for struggling wine industry

Recent report indicates a $133M decrease in revenue
The wine sector in the Okanagan region was hit hard by wildfires this past summer.

Kelowna-West MLA Ben Stewart called for support for the wine industry in the BC Legislature on Monday.

Stewart, who co-founded Quails' Gate Winery with his father in 1989, highlighted a recent report commissioned by Wine Growers British Columbia indicating a 54 percent crop loss, a $133 million decrease in total revenues, and potential job losses for 381 full-time equivalent workers as a result of recent freeze events.

"The B.C. wine industry serves as a beacon for tourism. It plays a pivotal role in driving revenue for local businesses. Today, I called for support for B.C.’s wine industry, which is facing a dire situation after enduring two punishing winters with temperatures plummeting to -30°C. Their struggle demands our attention and united action," Stewart said.

Miles Prodan, president and CEO of Wine Growers British Columbia, told Castanet earlier this month a handful of Okanagan wineries have made the tough decision to close this year.

Over the past several years, wineries have been hit by a multi-year pandemic, a heat dome in June 2021, an atmospheric river that shut down highways for weeks, wildfires, and back-to-back cold snaps - all impacting tourism numbers.

The estimated cost to replant B.C. vines damaged by recent cold weather is as high as $317 million, something the industry is calling for help with.

Stewart, a BC United MLA, announced in October he would not be seeking re-election.