B.C. wine ban does not include personal purchases
'If it's for personal use ... there was no limit on how much you could bring back and that continues'
Wine lovers, fear not. Wine can still be purchased from B.C. if you're willing to drive there.
Despite the B.C. wine ban, personal purchases are still permitted if the wine is transported across the border for non-commercial use.
"Before the ban came on, an individual could go to B.C. and they could go to their favourite winery and they could buy some cases of it and put it in their car and bring them back," said Alberta Liquor and Gaming Commission spokesperson Michelle Hynes-Dawson on Thursday.
"If it's for personal use, and it's being transported personally, there was no limit on how much you could bring back and that continues to be that way."
The ban affects only orders going through the AGLC for commercial use and sale.
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The AGLC said although it's not necessarily stepping up enforcement at the border, it does want to remind Albertans about the rules.
"We'll be working with our partners, whether that's law enforcement, or that's couriers, as well as the licensees themselves, to be making sure that people are aware and understand how everybody can play a part in this," said Hynes-Dawson.
Looking east for wine
While individuals can still stock up, restaurants like the Butternut Tree in Edmonton are looking for ways to get through the ban.
Since opening in September, the restaurant has sold only Canadian products, including a wine list that's between 70 and 80 per cent B.C. wines.
"Our entire concept revolves around showcasing Canadian products and through that, hopefully, developing what is a Canadian cuisine or at least starting a conversation about it," said Scott Downey, owner and chef at the Butternut Tree.
"Basically, by removing B.C. wines, I just feel that we're not going to be able to properly represent our country and what the flavour is."
Downey expects the restaurant's current stock to last at least a month, but says he may look to the Ontario and Nova Scotia markets for wine.
Although about 95 per cent of Canadian wine sold in Alberta liquor stores comes from B.C., Hynes-Dawson said the AGLC stocks about 22,000 different wine products from other regions.
Last year, Alberta imported about 17.2 million bottles of wine from B.C. That adds up to about $70 million going to B.C. wineries annually.
Hynes-Dawson said the AGLC has about 160,000 B.C. wine bottles in stock and expects they'll sell out within 35 days.