VQA – The grind and the pride

By Henry Yuen

BC VQA’s 20th anniversary is no doubt a blast for celebration, yet it is also a concrete statement telling the world we take our wines very seriously; and no doubt a milestone for BC’s wine history and those working so passionately and believing in it for so many years. Before VQA, the industry was in a state of ‘ever body does it own thing.’ Seemed like as long as you got grapes, knew how to press them, barrel them; waited and there would be wine. The public had no idea what’s going on in those wineries, no one was applying any pressure. But the winemakers definitely wished they could have sold more wine, perhaps had to know how to improve the situation. Industrial folks saw with their own eyes the differences VQA’s presence made. It not only brought vineyards, winemakers, winery owners, government bodies and marketing groups together to build a better, stronger wine industry, it also signified our position in North American’s new wine world. During the celebration where the founding winery members generously poured some of their library wines and went down memory lane with those who were there with them back then, Harry McWatters made a short, sweet and crispy speech, briefing the crowd how hard it was to form VQA, the challenges it faced (and still facing), the ups and down it experienced through the years. Harry, the co-founder of VQA, a leader and the voice of the industry, the one who rolled up his sleeves and pushed VQA to the starting point and strides side by side along the way, thanked everyone: from growers; field workers; grape pickers; winery workers; to winemakers, owners and friends of the industry for making VQA what it is in 20 years. Yes, getting to where VQA is today would have been like climbing the grind. The hardships, the emotions, the signs and the joyful tears were there along the path and will still be there as BC’s wine industry goes forward. But as everyone in the room raised their glasses on this special day, we all knew, VQA is a seal of approval; recognition of good quality and most importantly, the reason behind BC’s many wine awards. Let’s salute the pioneers, and many more who made their marks in the making of BC’s wine industry. Let’s cheer for more good BC VQA wines, more VQA accolades!