Local winemakers praise new three-province wine deal

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

CBC News


Wine drinkers and winemakers in Windsor-Essex County are praising the historic trade deal some of Canada's premiers struck late last week.

The premiers of British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec announced an agreement Friday to make it easier to purchase Canadian wines that aren't made in the province where you live.

The sales will continue to be overseen and regulated by each province's respective liquor distribution agency: B.C.'s Liquor Distribution Branch (LDB), the Société des alcools du Québec (SAQ), the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO).

But the goal is to make it easier for consumers to order wine from outside their province online. They could then pick it up at either their local distributor or have it shipped directly to their door.

At Coopers Hawk Vineyards in Harrow, one of more than 240 wineries in the province, owners are loving the possibilities raised by the new deal.

They're already thinking of ways to reach new consumers in other provinces.

"It's all about access," Tom O'Brien said. "All three provinces make amazing wines. The wineries will have to market and get themselves known to the consumers. But it just simply makes more of an access to better and broader wines to the average wine drinker.

"It's really more for the consumers."

In Ontario, the LCBO told CBC News it will launch a new e-commerce website in the coming days.

Consumers will be able buy out-of-province wines and have them shipped through Canada Post to the nearest LCBO store for pick up or directly to their homes.

Winemakers are waiting for the formal announcement and hope this eventally leads to direct sales. They say going through the LCBO could lead to unwanted markups.

Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island applauds the new agreement.

"Having access to these markets will allow us to ... garner some interest in people maybe visiting our region to taste our wines and then [have them] order them online, bring them back home,  ship them back home," Lynette Bain, vice-president of tourism programs and development said. "There are great possibilities."

Bain also said that the agreement will not only increase local wine sales but it may lead to more jobs, too.