Wine Growers BC asks for local support after wildfires

Who: Wine Growers British Columbia (WGBC); with SMC Communications for strategy, PR, and digital marketing; and CK9 Studios for production. 

What: “Fall for BC Wine,” a campaign encouraging consumers to support the local wine industry as it recovers from climate-related setbacks including severe cold temperatures in December of 2022, and the summer wildfire crisis. The campaign involves a contest to reward a community hero with trip for two to BC wine country.

When & Where: The nomination process began with a PR push on Oct. 4, followed by print and social media, and a two-minute OLV titled “What’s in a glass of BC wine?” released on Oct. 16. and pushed only through WGBC’s owned channels.

Why: The growing BC wine industry has experienced recent setbacks from extreme weather including flooding, deep freezes and most recently, wildfires which resulted in travel bans during peak tourist season. For the fall harvest season, WGBC is asking for support to get the industry back on track, while expressing thanks to the community.

The BC wine industry has grown significantly over the last couple of decades and now contributes around $3.75 billion annually to the provincial economy, according to an economic impact report commissioned by WGBC, Wine Growers Canada, Wine Growers Ontario, and Wine Growers Nova Scotia. However, in December of 2022 BC experienced a cold weather event in which temperatures remained below -20°C for a sustained period in most regions in the province’s interior, and as low as -30°C in Kelowna, West Kelowna, and Shuswap/ Tappen.

According to a crop damage report published by Cascadia Strategy Consulting Partners in June, the deep freeze caused an estimated 54 % reduction in 2023 crops, and long-term damage to 45% of the total planted acreage. As a result, the report foresaw a $341 million loss in total industry revenues, $133 million of which would be incurred by vineyards and wineries. This setback is compounded by BC’s record-breaking wildfire season which disrupted the tourism season and caused many members of the winemaking community to be evacuated.

“Winemaking has never been an industry for the faint of heart—resilience is a prerequisite,” said WGBC’s president and CEO Miles Prodan. “However, these setbacks are temporary. We’ve always been fortunate to have enormous support for the wines of BC from local consumers and, with them behind us, we know the industry will overcome these challenges.”

How: The campaign is anchored by the two minute hero film which celebrates both the perseverance and dedication of the wine growers themselves along with their connection to the land. The intent was to amplify the importance of being proud of what’s in a glass of BC wine, said WGBC’s marketing director Kim Barnes. 

WGBC had already been collecting footage for a video unrelated to the fall campaign, but decided to accelerate the production timeline after the wildfire season, positioning it as a key aid in the narrative of resilience.

The film weaves together footage of BC wine regions throughout the seasons, damaged crops, and farmers and their families, while a narrator explains that what makes a glass of BC wine so special is the story that goes into every glass, including the generations of farmers who have tended the soil day every day, despite dire climate conditions. It ends with a throw to the BC Wines website, which includes details about the community hero contest.

WGBC is also using it’s digital and social platforms to call on consumers to purchase BC wine at liquor stores and restaurants, visit wine regions, and spread the message on social media with the hashtag #FallForBCWine.

And we quote: “If people are looking for ways to support local, the best way is to simply buy BC… Those purchases not only have a regenerative effect on small, local businesses but the community as a whole.” —Joanna Schlosser, co-owner and CEO of family-owned Niche Wine Company.

Emma Johnston-Wheeler