British Columbia

B.C. wine in grocery stores: winemakers say delays unacceptable

The B.C. Wine Institute blames municipalities for blocking applications to sell wine in grocery stores.

The B.C. government allowed sale of wine on store shelves in April, but just two stores are selling so far

Since April, when the government announced changes to provincial liquor laws, only two grocery stores in Surrey have been selling wine. (Shutterstock / Dasha Petrenko)

B.C. winemakers say they aren't getting a chance to sell their product in grocery stores across the province, because municipalities are hesitant to grant the required permits. 

"There is a strong lobby from existing private liquor stores that are trying to prevent that," said Miles Prodan, president of the B.C. Wine Institute.

He is making the case for local winemakers at the Union of B.C. Municipalities today. 

"Really, all we are talking about are farmers with their grapes turned into wine and on grocery shelves available for consumers," he explained. 

Two grocery stores in Surrey are selling wine — and they are the only stores in the province to do so since new liquor laws came into effect in April allowing grocery stores to sell wine.

Prodan says municipalities are blocking local wine makers by applying a policy that restricts new stores from opening within one kilometre of another liquor store, a restriction that the province has said doesn't apply to 100 per cent B.C. wines.  

"Our licenses have never had to fall into what is known as the one kilometre rule [...] because we have a 100% B.C. wine, we don't have beer or whiskey," he explained. 

Stiff competition

Miles Prodan, President and CEO of B.C. Wine Institute says cities are hesitant to grant permits for B.C. wines to be sold in grocery stores. (Charlie Cho/CBC)

But private liquor store advocates say applying the provincial rule and allowing the wines will impact business, "no one competes in the market like grocery stores do. That is my competition. That is destructive competition," said Jeff Guignard, executive director of the Alliance of Beverage Licensees of B.C.

Prodan says the number of wineries is growing in the province and they will need better access and exposure because there isn't enough room for them on private and government liquor store shelves alone.


To hear the full interview listen to the audio labelled B.C. wines fighting to get on grocery store shelves with the CBC's Rick Cluff on The Early Edition.

 

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