Ontario Grocery Stores Finally Get to Sell Wine (Kind Of)
Well, the day has finally come. Ontario Premier, Kathleen Wynne, made an announcement on February 18, 2016, opening the door to wine sales in grocery stores. This fall some 150 private grocery stores will start selling wines — both local and international — and ciders along side beer. Although it’s a small number, it is a start. “Ontarians will soon be able to buy wine with their cheese,” the premier was proud to say.
Ed Clark, the privatization czar went on to say, “Grocers will not be allowed to offer wine for less than $10.95.” With an eye on quality, it remains to be seen what that actually means. Since they have to use the LCBO distribution network, prices will have to be the same in all channels.
But that’s not the only news. Craft distillers will now be able to sell directly to bars and restaurants as well as directly to the public from their distilleries. This is welcome news for small distilleries who have demanded changes to Ontario’s arcane liquor laws.
Geoff Dillon, Co-founder, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers commented, “The government has taken a big step forward in reducing the unnecessary burdens for craft distillers in Ontario. We are optimistic that these proposed changes will encourage us small producers to create more locally focused spirits and enable us to deliver them to the people more efficiently.”
Toronto Distillery Company’s outspoken Jesse Razaqpur added, “Ontario’s craft distilleries produce unique products, create jobs, and support Ontario’s agricultural sector using locally grown grains and produce. Permitting craft distilleries to sell directly to bars and restaurants is a small, but welcome step in the right direction. However, our province has a great deal more work to do in order to create a regulatory environment which supports and encourages craft distilleries and makes small scale production viable. Toronto Distillery Company has taken the lead in advocating for real change, and will continue to do so.”
Watch Quench’s docuseries on the the hardships of running a craft brewery and distillery: