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Jun 8, 2008 04:54 PM

Ontario Boutique Winery Stores?

A while ago I heard some mention of VQA boutique wine stores. I am not speaking of Wine Rack but rather small boutique stores carrying PEC and Niagara product that do not produce enough wine to be general list (or Vintages).
From what I understood the LCBO is considering allowing small retail shops to carry VQA boutique wines that are not available in the LCBO, has anybody more information on LCBO policy or direction on this?

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  1. At one time the idea was to locate VQA stores in Toronto, London or Windsor, and Ottawa. Each store would have a few wines from ALL of the VQA members, plus an order desk where you could order OTHER VQA wines to arrive at this store within a few days (free delivery too). Tastings of any VQA wine were to be held on a regular basis.

    This was shot down by foreign interests who complained that it gave an unfair advantage to Ontario wines with its own stand-alone store.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Dean Tudor

      Actually it was shut down to stop those foreign interests from opening their own stores!
      Under 'International' agreements the foreign wineries could 'legally' do this - except it's the Federal government that signed those agreements and Liquor & Wine are provincial responsibilities - and they didn't sign the agreements.
      But the law on 'adventures in the nature of trade' would probably allow foreign 'distributors' in if a non-proprietary store was to open in Ontario. So only winery stores exist today.
      Bizarrely under NAFTA the Feds agreed to do 'everything in their power' to remove any non-tariff barriers imposed by Provinces. That, of course, would theoretically allow US and Mexican alcohol retailers in - but nobody (to my knowledge) has yet taken the steps to implement that option. Of course, if anybody did try, they would first be allowed to sell through the existing LCBO system - or possibly banned from that system if they went ahead anyway (probably reducing their overall sales).

      My 'mole' (identity has to be hidden for obvious reasons) tells me that if and when the law is ever challenged, the 'secret' strategy is to allow the existing winery stores to sell imported wines (which of course they already do - but call them Canadian non-VQA), which will pass the profits through to the Ontario wineries (who will pay more taxes). That network already exists so the 'challenging winery' will suddenly have major competition and still have to take time to build their own network of stores.