BCWI and VQA
The establishment of the British Columbia Wine Institution (BCWI) and the creation of the Vintner's Quality Alliance (VQA) in 1990 are considered a critical turning point in the province's wine history.
In response to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between Canada and the United States, the industry needed to become more competitive in anticipation of an onslaught of high-quality imports. Thus less-desirable labrusca varieties were pulled out to prepare for further plantings of premium vinifera grapes.
The BCWI oversaw the development of BC VQA, which set minimum quality standards for BC wines and conducted research and development on behalf of the industry. Simply put, BC VQA = 100% BC Wine. Since its introduction the industry has seen phenomenal growth and it has bolstered consumer confidence in the BC brand.
Today, the BC Wine Authority is charged with regulating BC VQA standards while the BCWI operates as a voluntary trade association with 111 member wineries and an additional 15 grapegrower partners. The mandate of the BCWI is to support and grow the Wines of British Columbia (BC VQA) as the preferred quality choice for consumers and encourage continued growth in the BC wine industry.