Local wine coming to a Quebec grocery store near you

Quebecers will now be able to buy local wine in grocery stores across the province.

Before Bill 88, Quebec wine could only be purchased in SAQs and wineries

Quebec wine can now be sold in grocery stores but that's unlikely to happen in time for the holidays. (Radio-Canada)

Quebecers will now be able to buy local wine in grocery stores across the province.

Finance Minister Carlos Leitao made the announcement Tuesday after Bill 88 recently came into effect.

The law, also known as an act respecting development of the small-scale alcoholic beverage industry, allows Quebec's small-scale wine producers to deliver and sell their products to grocery permit holders.

Previously, Quebec wine could only be purchased in SAQs and wineries.

"It was essential to modernize our legislation in order to support artisans, by opening doors to new points of sale that will allow them to shine," Leitao said in a statement.
Quebec Finance Minister Carlos Leitao introduced Bill 88, which allows Quebec grocery stores to sell local wine and to modifies labelling rules. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

The law also lets microbrewers sell beers to customers visiting their breweries for consumption elsewhere. Before Bill 88, people could only drink beers purchased directly from microbrewers on the producer's premises.

'A big gift for consumers'

The Food Retailer's Association of Quebec, which supported the changes proposed in the bill, says the new rules are good for the province's grocers and customers.

"We fought for this opportunity to sell [these] local products in our stores for years," said Pierre-Alexandre Blouin, spokesman for the association.

"We want to give access to the winemakers and other craft alcohol makers, just like we can with bakers, cheesemakers and any other production," he said.

The new law also modifies a labelling rule that prohibited wine sold in grocery stores from having labels with information on origin and the type of grape used.

An amendment was added to the bill after the consultation stage, when retailers argued that grocery store shoppers should have access to that information.

"The consumer wants to know what they're drinking. When we see every product in our stores, we have the list of ingredients, but wine was the only product [where] we didn't have it," said Blouin.

"It's a big gift for consumers."

Blouin points out that Bill 88 probably won't bring local wine to most grocery store shelves in time for the holidays, saying it takes months for producers and retailers to organize around the new rules.