Supermarket wine sales to expand in Ontario

Government and wine industry sources say the province plans to allow private wine kiosks in 70 supermarkets as early as this fall, eventually reaching 150 grocery stores in future years.

Wine to be sold in 70 more Ontario grocery stores as early as this fall

International trade rules make wine sales from Ontario grocery stores "more complex" than beer sales, says a spokesperson for Finance Minister Charles Sousa ((CBC News))

The sale of wine is coming soon to more Ontario supermarkets. 

Government and wine industry sources tell CBC News the province plans to allow private wine kiosks in 70 supermarkets as early as this fall, eventually reaching 150 grocery stores in future years. 

"We will have more to say later this month," said Kelsey Ingram, press secretary to Finance Minister Charles Sousa, in an email statement on Thursday.  

The Kathleen Wynne government has been indicating for more than a year that it was moving toward liberalizing wine sales, but declined to move ahead in last year's budget when it announced plans to allow beer sales from supermarkets. 

"In many ways, it is a more complex issue than the beer distribution system as we must respect trade obligations," said Ingram.

The vast majority of private wine shops in Ontario are owned by two large wine-producing conglomerates, selling almost exclusively their own products. Many of the foreign-owned Wine Rack and Canadian-owned Wine Shop locations are already inside supermarkets.  

The organization that represents Ontario's smaller, independently-owned wineries calls the proposed changes "very positive." 

"Consumers will have access to many new and exciting products that they wouldn't be able to buy unless they drove to Ontario's wine country," said Richard Linley, president of the Wine Council of Ontario, in an email.

The group includes some 100 wineries and has long been seeking changes to the wine retailing system in the province.   

In December, Wynne announced that 58 grocery stores throughout the province had begun selling beer, under strict rules. That number will increase to about 160 stores carrying beer in 2016. The province plans to eventually allow beer sales at about 450 Ontario grocery stores.

The coming reforms would also allow cider sales from the approved grocery stores. The LCBO will retain its monopoly on selling spirits.


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