Oct 21 2002
Washington Wines to Gain New Access to British Columbia Wine Market, North America's Largest Wine Market Per Capita
Move Could Boost Washington State Shareof $60 Million Market to Five Percent
Seattle, WA - U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) today announced that the British Columbia Liquor Distribution Branch has permitted the sale of wine from eight new Washington state wineries, including 19 new wine vintages, effective immediately. The listing expands Washington winery access to BC by forty percent. The move is expected to increase Washington state's share of the $60 million market of wine imported from the United States to B.C. to five percent over the next year.
The announcement comes one month after Cantwell and Christopher Perry, the top wine buyer for the B.C. Liquor Distribution Branch, toured Washington state wineries and met with state wine producers from Central Washington.
"This decision will help jumpstart broader access to North America's largest per capita wine drinking population," Cantwell said. "Washington wines are already internationally recognized, and this news means better access to this important market to our north."
"With these new listings, Washington state is poised to go to five percent of B.C.'s market within a year, which is about a $1 million increase over current Washington state sales," Perry said. "B.C. residents are savvy consumers of wine. This step improves access to premium Washington state wine and Senator Cantwell's tour of Washington wine country with me was an important part of these listings."
The Canadian Liquor Distribution Branch establishes the wholesale purchasing rules for liquor in B.C., so it will play a pivotal role in opening access to the lucrative B.C. wine market for Washington wineries. Canada is ranked fifth in the world for wine consumption per capita and imports two-thirds of the wine it consumes. British Columbia is an ideal market for Washington state wines, both because of its proximity and B.C.'s status as the leading province for wine consumption per capita in Canada. Yet only about two percent of the wine imported to BC each year comes from Washington state. The total impact of the wine industry on Washington state's economy is $2.4 billion.
Cantwell's announcement builds on her previous efforts to open international markets to Washington state agricultural products. In January, Cantwell promoted Washington state agricultural products in Cuba and secured a deal to ship the first Washington state peas and apples to Cuba in forty years, opening the door to one of the largest food markets in our hemisphere.