Does BC have a brighter future in wine than pot?

"Medical marijuana investment has had a lot of buzz over the past few years, with over 25 listed companies in Canada, and Tulloch CEO Stuart Wooldridge got weary of the pressure to move his dormant company into that area of endeavour.  “We had great offers, really tempting, but I like to travel, and I couldn’t see answering the usual question upon crossing borders ‘what do you do for a living’ ending well.  More likely in a back room getting searched for samples.”  At the same time, he noted that investment interest was growing in the BC wine sector, but options were limited to outright ownership, very risky indeed, or limited partnerships, restricted to high-net worth individuals and with very little liquidity.  So, why not let investors buy shares in a company that lets them support the BC wine industry, but still have liquidity and the ability to use RRSP/TFSA funds?

This fit in perfectly with Stuart’s passion for BC wine, and his division of time between his homes in Penticton and in downtown Vancouver.  While the original plan was to raise funds from wine-loving investors and buy a winery, after a year of kicking tires, ultimately the company determined that the need in the industry was not for another winery competing for tasting room sales with its neighbours, but to take the BC wine message to the rest of the world. “BC Bud may have cachet among certain circles, but anybody with a green thumb and a well-lit greenhouse can replicate this……….but for wine, BC’s terroir, the purity of the air and water, and the limited production puts it in a unique position.
 Enter Michael Chen, newly immigrated to Canada, who Stuart knew from his time living in Shanghai.  Michael has twenty years of experience building premium wine brands in China, including those from previously under-represented regions, and he was immediately smitten with the quality of wine from the Okanagan Valley. “Wine menus in China have dozens of offerings from Old and New World wine regions while BC is seldom represented.  Online wine sellers, which have 20% of the market, have a similar vacuum when it comes to BC wine.  We believe that consumers, when given the opportunity, will understand why BC wines are capturing worldwide recognition.”

Tulloch Vineyard’s initial wine shipment made its way across the Pacific in November of last year, as the company launched its first selling season representing three leading BC wineries – Poplar Grove, Black Hills, and Haywire.  The company’s first event was a high-profile wine seminar and private tasting sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada in Shanghai. “We are proud to be working with these wineries, each that has existing channels for all of their limited production, doesn’t need to sell in China” says Stuart Wooldridge, “but also recognizes that China’s market is maturing, and will be increasingly important in the future.”  
 Local support for Tulloch’s efforts has been enormous, from Miles Prodan of the BC Wine Institute, Teresa Wat, BC Minister of International Trade, Ben Stewart, BC Investment and Trade Commissioner, and the entire Consular staff in Shanghai.  “We are representing a few wineries currently, but ultimately we are building the BC Brand in China, and as export markets open up for BC wineries, this will benefit all participants”, says Stuart, “and with our upcoming listing on the CSE, we’ll be ready to truly bring investors together with winemakers.”  

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