This week, the British Columbia provincial government announced some wine law reforms to continue to open things up and update laws, many of which date back to Prohibition.
It’s one small step for the wine industry but is probably feeling like one giant leap for the Liquor board, but even small victories are welcome in this wine land where public and private co-mingle.
Among the reforms:
- Private liquor stores can now set up shop next door to government stores. Previously, there was a 1km minimum limit unless the general manager was willing to waive the rule.
- Independent wine stores and VQA wine stores are included in a category of wine stores that are now considered licensees. What does this mean, you ask? Basically, it makes everyone subject to the same regulator. Wholesale prices won’t be affected, and no new licenses will be granted at least at this time.
- Breweries and distillers can now more freely operate tasting rooms.
- Small or mid sized wineries (and breweries and such) can now have a direct relationship with up to three retail establishments (e.g., bar, restaurant, private liquor store).
- And, last but definitely not least, the provincial government has appointed Herb Leroy as “Wine Envoy”, tasking him with helping to open up interprovincial wine shipping laws. And it looks like Herb is quick to get going. At least he’s updated his LinkedIn account to state Wine Envoy as his current job.
To get down to the nitty gritty and a sense of the ridiculousness posed when these laws were not yes passed, hop on over the Mark Hicken’s Wine Law website.
Europeans can transport wine, or have it shipped not only between within their own country but between other countries as well while transport of wine in Canada from one province to another has been illegal since prohibition, and provincial liquor boards are fighting tooth and nail to keep it that way.
The Canadian wine Twittersphere has been abuzz with exhilaration, expectation and renewed agony about Bill C-311 (the wine shipping bill that will create a limited national personal use exemption for shipping wine from province to province), which is going through the bureaucratic machine, and the reactions of the provinces such as BC and Ontario.
In case you missed it, this is news or just plain intriguing to you, here’s some of what’s going on….
On June 6th, Bill C-311, the 51-word amendment to the federal law, passed the third reading in the House. Senator then Runciman table the bill in Senate on June 7th. On June 16, the bill passed the Senate by unanimous vote. Smooth sailings? Well, just a first step. Shirley-Ann George points out in guest post at nataliemaclean.com that the provinces still have to open things up . But judging by what BC did within 24 hours of the passing of the bill, that might be easier said than done. Provincial liquor board statements “indicate that they will not respect the spirit of Bill C-311″ and “some liquor boards and provinces have indicated that they will try to limit or prevent Canadians from gaining access to the wines that are sold in other provinces”, reports winelaw.ca. See this Globe and Mail article for more info on the provinces’ stance.
You can stay abreast of all the news and commentary from such notables as wine writer Anthony Gismondi and winemakers including Township 7′s Bradley Cooper and Tinhorn Creek’s Sandra Oldfield on Twitter using the #freemygrapes tag. Also please do read Mark Hicken’s article on this at winelaw.ca. He’s a Canadian lawyer specialized in wine law, and really gets down to the nitty gritty details.
And if are a Canadian wino and want to help, why not write a letter to your MPP / MLA to help free your grapes. You can find a sample letter and how to contact your MPP at http://www.freemygrapes.ca/take-action.shtml