Saskatchewan

Saskatoon wine store seeks way to stay open

The head of a Cava Wines, a high-end specialty wine store in Saskatoon, is seeking some government intervention in its dispute with the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Sask. liquor authority shutting down Cava Wines over licence violation

Trouble at Cava Wines

11 years ago
Duration 1:34
Sask. government is shutting down Cava Wines, a high-end Saskatoon specialty wine store, after it ordered wine supplies from Alberta, Steve Pasqualotto reports.

The head of a Cava Wines, a high-end specialty wine store in Saskatoon, is hoping for some government intervention in its dispute with the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority.

The SLGA is pulling Cava Wines' licence late next month, following a month-long investigation that concluded the store violated the term of its licence.

It was supposed to import its alcohol through SLGA, but an audit revealed the store was buying wine directly from suppliers, cutting out the government, says SLGA president Barry Lacey.

"After numerous requests of Cava to explain the irregularities from that audit, that weren't answered to SLGA's satisfaction, we've moved to the step of terminating the contract," said Lacey, who was in Saskatoon on Saturday at a conference for the province's 190 liquor dealers.

Cameron Rizos, the chief executive officer of Cava Wines, admitted on Monday that his company briefly purchased wine from a supplier from Alberta after the SLGA cut off his supply.

"Arguably, the thinking was bad … but that was it," Rizos told CBC News.

"It was to just get us through that period until we were able to rectify the situation with SLGA and get back onto a regular ordering cycle."

Rizos said the SLGA cut off his supply when he ran into difficulties paying for a $200,000 shipment that came in early.

"Supply's the lifeblood of our business," he said. "It was our only access for a short period of time. We admit it was an error."

The government ordered the audit in February, following up on concerns that Cava was buying wine directly from a supplier in Alberta. On March 29, it notified Cava that it was out of business, effective May 29.

"That provides them an opportunity to wrap up their business in an orderly manner," he said.

Cava Wines opened with considerable fanfare in June 2009 — one of two privately-run stores to get permission to sell special alcohol products that are not available in government liquor stores.

Rizos said he hopes to meet with the minister responsible for the SLGA to see if there's a way to keep his licence.

In the meantime, SLGA officials are scheduled to meet with Rizos later this week to work out the details of Cava Wines' closure in May.

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