Canadian Wine Rebels

We’re angry and we’re not gonna take it anymore!

That’s the battle cry of more and more Canadian wine drinkers and industry folks in British Columbia, that west coast province touting itself the best place on earth, but with ugly wine laws dating back to prohibition that make it illegal to take wine across provincial borders.

The movement started gradually and was slow to pick up speed, but it’s shaking off the sluggishness and becoming an avalanche of popular opinion. Mark Hicken at WineLaw.ca has spoken out for some time with truths that reveal the insanity of these laws. The Free My Grapes website, run by the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers – a grassroots, volunteer alliance of wine lovers whose goal is to change the provincial and federal laws so Canadians can purchase not-for-resale wine directly from Canadian wineries in other provinces and have it shipped to their homes – has also done well in spreading the word about these laws. Notable wine folk like Anthony Gismondi have spoken out on their twitter feeds, and now it’s gotten to the point that Terry David Mulligan hopes to get arrested..

Thankfully, splinters of government are taking note, and doing something. Ron Cannan, the Conservative incumbent MP for Kelowna-Lake Country “tabled a motion to amend the law to allow consumers to purchase wine directly from out-of-province wineries. Motion 601, however, died on the order paper when the election was called. Mr. Cannan has vowed to reintroduce it if he’s re-elected and is optimistic about garnering all-party support.”

And they should be angry. You should be angry! Why? Because neither the federal government nor the B.C. government, which currently runs the gambling and booze in this ocean-hugging province, hasn’t done a thing about it for decades. …and it’s only the tip of the iceberg. From the notoriously astounding 120+ % wine tax markup to restrictions that make it nigh impossible for independent winemakers to begin wineries without major capital (just ask winemaker Bradley Cooper from Black Cloud) and a slew of other laws, restrictions, and regulations that we can sink our teeth into further another day.

I’d urge you to learn more about these issues at sites like Free the Wine! and Free My Grapes. Have your voice heard. Demand reform. With this malcontent avalanche of public voices, we can promote change. And a chink in the armor of government can lead to further changes to make it easier for winemakers to make wine, wine retailers/wholesalers to sell wine, and wine lovers – like you – to enjoy wine.

3 Comments
  1. I take so much of this for granted as a California resident. Our Ca wine laws are free flowing like the bottles in my house. I can’t blame people for being upset.

    I do hate to see so much restriction and challenges it creates for business, especially mom & pop tasting rooms just trying to make a living. I support Free My Grapes and want everyone to enjoy the same freedoms I have. Glad to see you supporting this cause for everyone that has to deal with these issues on either side of the fence.

    • Thanks Shawn! Without support from wine lovers like you and us, those mom & pop tasting rooms wouldn’t have a fighting chance.

  2. Thanks so much for providing great information and links to other platforms for discussion on this issue! Much obliged!

    @VinoJogio

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