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difficult for key personnel to make time.

Berney describes the procedure as

educational rather than strictly enforcement.

Grower statements are needed from the grape growers for each winery, with data such as where the grapes were grown, what varietal they are, production levels and so on. “Many wineries don’t have that information available when the inspector arrives,” he said, and that’s an area he’d like to see improvement, to save money and allow them to operate more efficiently. The BCWA does have forms available for members to make the process easier, but he said record- keeping is an issue. Sales records are also required. The information is needed to ensure compliance with the regulations. Once the inspector identifies some issues with the owner, there has to be a follow-up, which is inefficient and time- consuming.

The board is looking at creating a grape grower registry in order to verify the information regarding standards. Such a registry would not

cost growers anything and it would be voluntary.

Since the BCWA consolidated its operations in Penticton, judging stations have been set up at the office in compliance with ISO standards. Those govern the colour of the walls in the judging booths, the dishwasher used for cleaning glasses, lighting, the type of glasses used and so on. Berney said usually a panel of six judges are brought in to taste test wines, one to four times a month. They’ll work for three or four hours and be served lunch and given a breathalyzer test before they head home—just to be safe.

Usually about 35 wines are tested in a day, a maximum of 38, and sometimes a retest is done of some. For instance, if a wine is rejected a second bottle is opened and a second blind tasting is done. A split three-to- three vote is considered a fail, but a winery can resubmit.

Wineries can also submit tank samples for testing. There’s the same $100 charge as there is for the VQA testing, but some wineries feel there’s an advantage to early detection of faults.

Also, if a final bottle test fails the judges do a tank to bottle comparison.

Black glasses are used to test tank

samples so wine clarity and colour aren’t an issue. Judges are now trained over two weekends. Those with some wine testing experience or industry experience are preferred, even though they can’t be currently employed in the industry.

In all, 24 judges are needed so there are four panels of six available. Last year, 1,356 wines were tested for VQA and 962 VQA certificates were issued. There were 47 wines submitted for retesting and 31 passed the second time. That includes tank samples as well as bottle samples. In 2008, there was a 7.1 per cent rejection rate; in 2009, it was 5.1 per cent; and in 2010, it was 6.8 per cent. In 2008, 1,136 wines were tested, while 1,220 were tested in 2009 and 1,356 last year.

This year the authority is already 10 to 12 per cent above last year’s amount for this point in the year, noted Berney, so he expects it to be a busy year.

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British Columbia FRUIT GROWER • Summer 2011 Publication:BC Fruit Grower

Issue: Spring 2011 Size:1/2 p 7.5 x 5

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