By Vanessa Broadbent
April is now officially B.C. Wine Month and Premier John Horgan made a stop at Oliver’s Tinhorn Creek winery on Tuesday afternoon to make the announcement.
He was joined by Minister of Agriculture Lana Popham and President and CEO of the BC Wine Institute Miles Prodan, and toured the vineyard and tasting room.
Along with an official proclamation, Horgan announced a $100,000 donation to the BC Wine Institute to continue promoting B.C. wines both nationally and internationally, as well as $150,000 to Destination British Columbia promote agritourism, including wine tourism.
Horgan commented on the recent trade war between B.C. and Alberta, which resulted in Alberta Premier Rachel Notley banning B.C. wine.
With a relationship extending over several decades, he said the interprovincial tension came unexpectedly.
“If you’d asked either one of us 20 years ago whether or not we would find ourselves fighting with each other, we would have laughed at you.”
But the decision to make April B.C. wine month was in the works before the ban, and would have happened regardless.
“Our commitment to the growers and the producers here in the valley was there prior to the great war of February/March of 2018,” Horgan said. “As much as I would like to draw a cause and effect, there wasn’t any.”
Horgan said that the provinces have “suspended hostilities” and are “back to a regularized relationship.”
But even though the war is over, he predicts to hear about it for years to come.
“This is a story that I think will be in textbooks about how an economy changed in British Columbia over a 35-40 year period.”
Horgan also briefly touched on flooding in the area, which is currently affecting many of Oliver’s vineyards.
“I think that what governments and people need to do is learn from the past and be prepared for the future.”
He mentioned his recent decision to appoint long-time cabinet minister George Abbott and First Nations Chief Maureen Chapman to head up a review of both the recent fire and flood seasons and how both British Columbians and the province responded.
However, Horgan said that land owners also have a “personal responsibility” to prepare for flooding.
“Government needs to be there to help out at the time and after the fact but everyone here knows that vigilance is their greatest ally when it comes to preparing for natural disasters, whether it be floods or fires.”
The self-professed “biggest cherry fan in the world,” Horgan also mentioned contributions made to tree fruit growers to ensure diversity of agriculture in the Okanagan Valley.
“The more cherries the better,” he joked.