At Aligra Wine & Spirits, we still offer you the largest selection of B.C. wines in Alberta – over 250 skus! Too many to list here, and often changing due to availability, we invite you to come in and shop for your favourites. But note, we are reducing our inventory.
Most people around the world are surprised to hear that British Columbia produces wine. After all, Canada is often depicted as being a cold and wintery country. Not so! And the burgeoning wine industry is has become one of the top 10 wine destinations in the world!
Let us share some facts:
Yes, we grow grapes above the 49th Parallel.
No, we are not like other “cool climate” wine growing areas in the world. The Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, where most of B.C.’s grapes are grown, have a unique climate best described as short and hot growing season, and desert-like conditions. The Coastal Mountain Range which separate the Okanagan from Vancouver hold back moisture from the weather off the Pacific Ocean. The average precipitation (rain and snowfall) is from 318 mm at the U.S. border near Osoyoos to 415mm , 100 km to the north. This dry desert region in the southern Okanagan is actually the northern point of the network of deserts that stretch through the USA from Mexico.
Extreme temperatures variations can be achieved in the same day, sometimes as much as 30 degrees! This is found nowhere else in the world. The high heat of summer days, and cool nights have a big impact on wine quality. The warmth intensifies the fruit flavours, while the cool nights preserve natural acidity which keeps the wines fresh and lively – a distinctive trait of the Wines of British Columbia.
B.C. Vineyards see up to 2 hours more sunlight per day compared to Napa Valley!
Another forgotten fact – altitude! Vineyards range from about 300 meters above sea level near Osoyoos to around 600 meters for hillside vineyards around Oliver. Similkameen average 400- 480 meters.
Vast range of soil types– from volcanic to glacial creating diverse soils that have been shaped over the centuries by sedimentation, stream and meltwaters, glacial till, windblown deposits and colluvial action.
Low rainfall and desert, but we have lakes! A string of beautiful lakes runs from the US border northward and act as temperature moderators. This helps avoid excessive extreme heat in summer, and more important, prevents damaging cold in the winter months.
All of these unique natural factors contribute to the making of unique wines. BC Wines have bright, natural acidity and ripe fruit showing pure and intense flavours. The natural tannin structure in the reds gives them the ability to age well.
However, with all this success for B.C. Wineries, it has become increasingly difficult for Alberta retailers to carry and sell their wines.
One reason is supply and demand. There is often low supply and high demand for the wines to be sold directly from the winery. We understand this.
Another reason is distribution and pricing. Retailers in Alberta are often expected to buy B.C. wines wholesale for what the winery sells them for retail from their winery. We don't feel this is right, as in order to stock the wines here, and make a living doing it, we have to mark them up much higher than they are priced in B.C. This is unfair to both us, the retailer, and the Alberta consumer, who can then turn around and order them online direct from the winery bypassing a local business. We don't like that.
Therefore, we have made the decision to carefully scrutinize all B.C. wines coming into Alberta by looking at the pricing, and distribution of the products before committing to carrying them on our shelves. It's a real shame, as we had put a lot of work and marketing behind selling B.C. wines from our store at West Edmonton Mall, but like eryone else, we too have to pay the bills. When excellent quality, well priced wines are coming in from Spain, Portugal, Chile etc. that consumers love and can afford, we can't ignore that.
We will continue to support B.C. Wines that understand the distribution and pricing model required to sell their wines here in Alberta. For all the other great B.C. wines, consumers will have to travel to the Okanagan to enjoy them.
Visiting Stoneboat Vineyards, Oliver B.C.
Visiting Saxon Estate Winery, Summerland, B.C.