LCBO's move to restock Norman Hardie wines lacks transparency, vintner says

The LCBO is restocking its shelves with Norman Hardie wines, less than six months after sexual misconduct claims against the winemaker were brought to light. The owner of another Prince Edward County winery weighs in.

Prince Edward County winegrower accused of sexual misconduct in June

Allegations of sexual misconduct against Prince Edward County winemaker Norman Hardie surfaced earlier this year. (Aaron Saltzman/CBC)

If you're picking up a bottle at the LCBO for the holiday season, you may notice Norman Hardie wines are back on the shelves.

Last June, the LCBO decided to stop stocking wines bearing the well-known Prince Edward County vintner's name after the Globe and Mail reported allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

"We may make further determinations as more information becomes available," the Ontario liquor retailer said in a news release at the time.

In Quebec, the SAQ also pulled the winery's products, and many restaurants followed suit.

Now, less than six months later, the LCBO has decided to put Norman Hardie wines back on its shelves.

In a statement, the LCBO said it will "begin restocking inventory in the coming weeks and leave the choices to purchase Norman Hardie products in the hands of customers."

'A lack of transparency'

Richard Johnston, owner of By Chadsey's Cairns Winery and Vineyard, minutes from Norman Hardie's winery in Prince Edward County, told CBC Radio's Ontario Morning on Friday that he was "a little stunned" by the LCBO's decision.

"The thing I find strange about it all is why the LCBO is taking leadership on this, to sort of end the boycott. It's a public institution, and it's a very interesting statement that they should decide that it's time now to just leave this up to consumers to decide at the store shelf itself," Johnston said.

"There's a lack of transparency here, which is quite disturbing, more than the decision itself in some ways. Who's taking this decision? Why was it taken? What was the process? Nobody [in Prince Edward County] certainly was contacted about it. It's all quite strange," he said.

"I find it strange that a public institution would be taking the lead on this, and the private owners are still feeling very sensitive about it."

The LCBO declined an interview with Ontario Morning.

CBC Radio's Ontario Morning