Establishing and operating a winery in Canada isn’t a simple task. There are multiple compliance mandates covering everything from labeling to shipping and production tracking, not to mention complex initial and ongoing licensing requirements. But you knew all that and took the plunge anyway — because you love your craft, and the world needs more good wine. How can you best run a successful and compliant winery operation?
Here we take a high-level look at the compliance mandates facing British Columbia wineries and the three ingredients —strong inventory control, accurate record keeping, and comprehensive reporting — that go into running a successful winery operation.
A quick overview of winery compliance
Two branches of the British Columbia provincial government are responsible for liquor licensing and sales. The Liquor Control and Licensing Branch (LCLB) issues the different classes of licenses (each has its own eligibility requirements), while the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) is responsible for the importation, distribution and retailing of beverage alcohol. The Liquor Control and Licensing Act controls all production and sale of wine in B.C.
The BC Wine Authority (BCWA) is an independent regulatory authority with responsibility for enforcing the Province’s Wines of Marked Quality Regulation (BC VQA). The regulation ensures wines are made with 100% B.C. grown fruit and that the wines meet minimum quality standards. The Authority also conducts taste tests to assess any potential faults of every wine bottled as BC VQA. To ensure wineries are compliant an audit is conducted every two years, where random wines selected and the records — from grape to bottle — are inspected.
1.Strong Inventory Control
Wineries, similar to any food or beverage manufacturer, must carefully track their inventory from grapes to corks. Detailed lot and production tracking are vital, not just for compliance, but also in the unlikely event of a recall. In addition, accurate inventory counts must be submitted to the Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB) each year.
2.Accurate Record Keeping
The need for accurate record keeping is certainly not unique to the wine industry — it’s expected of every company, but when faced with a multitude of compliance mandates, it becomes imperative. This includes, but is not limited to, production records, sales reports, and excise documents for audit purposes.
Wineries must monitor their monthly sales and production activities and file various semi-annual and annual production and sales reports to the agencies to ensure continuing compliance. This type of detailed reporting is only possible when you’re accurately collecting and retaining the required data.
While companies in nearly every industry face compliance decrees, commercial wineries in Canada seem to have been stocked with a barrel full. But there is help — winery management software that not only helps to obtain and retain compliance, but grow your operation and your profitability. Learn more about comprehensive winery software solutions here.
Important Note: We’ve provided a brief overview of the most significant compliance mandates facing B.C. wineries here, but it shouldn’t be assumed to be the entire compliance story. Naturally, you should perform your own due diligence and seek the advice of compliance experts.