Cheers! B.C. wine industry celebrates end of Alberta ban

Cheers! B.C. wine industry celebrates end of Alberta ban

B.C. winery owners were popping corks Thursday after Alberta's premier suspended a ban on the province's wine.

The move came after B.C. Premier John Horgan announced his government would turn to the courts on the question of whether B.C. could put a temporary ban on increased bitumen exports from Alberta.

That's resulted in an end to Alberta's two week wine boycott, and a truce between the provinces — for now.

B.C. wineries said they're relieved the ban is lifted, but are still shocked it happened in the first place.

"We remain concerned that any provincial government believes it has the constitutional authority to impose trade bans on Canadian products based on their place of origin," B.C. Wine Institute president Miles Prodan said in a statement.

"We are, however, thrilled that Alberta consumers once again have the choice to purchase and enjoy B.C. wines, as they have long done."

Prodan says the institute will consult with its legal counsel in coming days to determine a "path forward" on the issue.

Alberta imposed the ban earlier this month in retaliation against B.C. for its attempt to block Kinder Morgan's $7.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

'We're back to status quo'

But at a special event at a Granville Island restaurant, winery owners were celebrating freely.

The gathering — aptly named Farm Friends — paired Alberta beef with B.C. wines to promote good will.

"We're back to status quo," said organizer Christine Coletta. "I think that the thing that we have to worry about is, will Albertans buy and consume B.C. wine now that the boycott is off. We hope that they do."

While some wineries in the Okanagan say they hadn't felt a big drop in sales, the ban did have an effect.

"It did psychologically, that's for sure, because you're worried because it's outside your control. There's nothing really that we can do," said Don Triggs of Culmina Family Estate Winery.

"We're ... delighted that there's a positive resolution."

Kevin McKinnon, manager of Marquis Wine Cellars in Vancouver, says the ban didn't impact sales much in this province, where some were calling for a "buy local" movement in the face of it.

He estimates sales may have gone up one to two per cent.

With files from Meera Bains