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British Columbia wine industry prepares for shake-up.

penticton, B.C.--Small and mid-size wineries are hoping for a bigger voice as the British Columbia Wine Institute undertakes a governance review.

Right now, large wineries have three representatives at the institute, while small and medium-sized wineries have two each. Meanwhile, the unique concerns and challenges of each group have strained relationships among members and prompted smaller wineries--those producing 5,000 cases and less--to seek greater representation.

"I personally feel very strongly that all categories should be represented by the same number of directors, and my suggestion would be there be three directors in each of the small, medium, and large categories," Harry McWatters, a veteran of the industry with more than four decades' experience, told Wines & Vines.

While the British Columbia Wine Institute is charged with marketing and promoting wine made entirely from B.C.-grown grapes and bearing the B.C. Vintners' Quality Alliance designation, McWatters said smaller wineries have concerns distinct from those of large wineries and deserve a strong voice. Moreover, of the 235 grape wineries in the province, just four are deemed "large."

Proposed changes for the province's liquor industry were released in February, following a government review of the sector, and have brought matters to a head.

What all sides want to avoid is a replay of the fractious days of the early 2000s, when several wineries that opted to remain independent of BCWI formed a rival group. (The institute has always been a voluntary organization; even today its membership is just 138, well short of the 235 grape wineries in the province.)

BCWI president Miles Prodan declined to provide further comment to Wines & Vines beyond what he said in a news release announcing the review.

The growth of the industry and the provincial government's recent review of the sector were key reasons for the review, which will be conducted by a third-party that submits recommendations for consideration by BCWI directors. A timeline for completion has not been established.

Smaller wineries want to gain the same representation as their larger counterparts when the British Columbia Wine Institute undergoes its planned governance review.

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Title Annotation:JUNE NEWS
Comment:British Columbia wine industry prepares for shake-up.(JUNE NEWS)
Author:Mitham, Peter
Publication:Wines & Vines
Date:Jun 1, 2014
Words:349
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