Making the transition to a new calendar year is always an occasion to look back on recent accomplishments, and reflect on the road ahead. So here’s a quick throwback to some of our past highlights that have laid the groundwork for our main objectives rolling into 2019.
Wineries have been able to make and sell wine in New Brunswick since the late 1990s, but it is during the past five years or so that the NB wine industry has managed to truly come into its own. Through the tireless work of key association members, David Craw (Mott’s Landing) and Tony Rickett (Dunham’s Run) especially, and the support of both the NB Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, a three-year Strategic Plan was developed and then adopted in late 2013, setting the stage for the road ahead. The next step was the hiring of the association’s first ED, Joe Gallant, who began implementing the plan in earnest. Of course, our current momentum would not be possible had we not cleared a few major hurdles since then.
During 2014 and 2015, Alcool NB Liquor (ANBL) led a pilot project which saw a half-dozen grocery stores take on wine sales. This created new opportunities for our members, as well as optimism for future industry growth. Then in early 2016, we successfully completed our negotiations with ANBL for a revised Cottage Winery Policy. This was a big step forward, as this policy serves as the basic regulatory framework for NB-made grape and fruit wine production and marketing within the province. Finally, in early 2017, following the pilot stage, the Grocery Store Program was permanently expanded to new stores, thereby ensuring solid market access within the province.
As an association, many of our efforts going forward will be focussed on strengthening the foundation of our industry for the long-term. For 2019, this means continuing to raise the public profile of New Brunswick’s wineries, developing Quality Wine Standards for our industry and further diversifying revenue sources. The Vins NB Wines Board is setting up active committees to tackle these objectives, and is working to develop new partnerships in the process.
The goals on the horizon are nothing short of attracting new entrants to our industry – both growers and winemakers -, and getting ever more consumers to discover, and then become avid supporters of NB-made wines. We want to see a vibrant fruit and grape wine country here in New Brunswick, one that you’ll want to celebrate with your neighbours!
Vice-President, Vins NB Wines