The Faculty of Management is working with the B.C. wine territory as it continues to develop a shared identity.
As the B.C. wine territory continues to grow and develop, it faces a new set of challenges, including how it will be recognized on a global scale. Dean Roger Sugden, of the UBC Faculty of Management, is part of a group of UBC researchers working with members of the industry to explore innovative solutions that can assist the growing region.
Sugden is one of the authors of BC Wine Territory Identity, along with Kim Buschert, Malida Mooken, Jacques-Olivier Pesme, and Marcela Valania. The UBC report, published in 2018, discusses the idea of a shared identity for the B.C. wine territory, which is important for the territory to be recognized on an international scale. The report outlines recommended actions for wineries, growers, industry organizations and regional associations in order to develop this identity.
The Faculty of Management is also coordinating a free public session with the Irving K Barber School of Arts and Sciences around the science of wine on Aug. 17. The session will be held in conjunction with the BC Pinot Noir Celebration, which is a one-day event that focuses on education about the pinot noir varietal.
Sugden spoke on the importance of sharing knowledge for the public session and about his work within the B.C. wine territory, as conversations around the wine territory’s shared identity continues to evolve.
Why is it important for the Faculty of Management, and for UBC researchers, to be involved in a public session in conjunction with the BC Pinot Noir Celebration?
A university like UBC, which is very strongly research focused, puts a premium on sharing research results and sharing knowledge. The university is interested in all the opportunities it can create to share knowledge with wider publics.
Okanagan residents and tourists are really interested in the wine industry, so it’s a wonderful opportunity to hold a public session, with the BC Pinot Noir Celebration going on, because people are thinking about wine. It’s a great way for UBC to share some of its research results in ways that people might want to engage with.
Now that recommended actions for the B.C. wine industry have been given with the BC Wine Territory Identity report, what are the next steps for the Faculty of Management?
The report published on B.C. wine territory and identity explores some of the views of the B.C. wine industry, including areas where they share commonalities, and it raises some of the challenges associated with identity. The fact that you’ve discussed identity doesn’t mean you have a shared identity. Shared identities are lived, and they evolve over a period of years.
Since the report was published, we’ve had further workshops across the B.C. wine territory, where we were challenging the industry’s notion of diversity as part of its wine identity. We also addressed the results of those workshops in 2019, at our annual Wine Leaders Forum, which brings together wine producers, international wine management expertise, government representatives and others, to share knowledge. That took us into discussions around tourism and the tourist experience; how identity can be impacted by tourists, and we asked the industry if its shared identity is reflected in what the tourists’ experience.
Going into the future what will we do? That’s always a moving thing that depends on where the industry is. We are committed to holding annual leaders forums. We are committed to hosting workshops around the territory each year, and alongside that we are focused on work around the issues of developing the wine territory identity in B.C.
Those issues go beyond the wine industry itself. For example, many people around the world have never heard of the Okanagan and their first introduction to the Okanagan might be Okanagan wine, and the identity of the wine territory that’s presented to them. Every citizen in the Okanagan has an interest in how this is being presented.
Another thing we’re doing is exploring the possibility of introducing more about the world of wine and the B.C. wine territory into our programs at UBC’s Okanagan campus. That’s happening through the Master of Management program, for instance.
Now that cannabis is legalized, are you discussing what the impacts might be on the B.C. wine industry?
That emergence of that industry has, or will have, impacts on the development of the wine industry. In B.C., there are all sorts of parallels between the two industries.
You can produce cannabis on an industrial scale, and you can produce wine on an industrial scale. You can produce cannabis in particular niche ways, just as you can produce wine in certain niche conditions. Both of them are a subject of regulation, measured with the effects of the products, and both of them do involve forms of agriculture, so the legalization of cannabis actually changes equations around land values.
The legalization of cannabis puts Canada on the forefront of what it means to emerge as a cannabis industry nationally, and in B.C. what it means to evolve as a cannabis industry in a territory that is emerging as a globally recognized wine region. That’s an extremely fruitful area for conversation. We’ve talked about that with the industry and we’ll be looking for discussion and to share knowledge, and address some of the challenges going forward.
What made you decide to work with the B.C. wine territory?
The development of the wine territory in B.C. is something a university like UBC might be able to impact positively. Moreover, the B.C. wine industry has a strong desire to engage with UBC.
It’s a privilege to be able to engage with an industry that is willing to engage and work with UBC.
To learn more about UBC free public session around the science of wine, visit https://bcpinotnoir.com/.