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May 13, 2012 07:48 AM

Wine Rack stores in Ontario, when will we get independent wine stores in Quebec?

Was in Ottawa last week and noticed a store called The Wine Rack on Elgin street. Their website indicates they have 160 stores in Ontario. I thought the LCBO had a monopoly on retail alcohol sales in Ontario? Wonder if there's any chance of independent wine stores in Quebec?


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  1. Correct me if i'm wrong, but AFAIK The Wine Rack sells only wines bottled in Ontario i.e. supermarket wine. I even think they bottle it themselves which would make them the Pop Shoppe of wine.

    Theoretically, anyone in Quebec could do the same thing under the current law.

    8 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy

      well, they do it here in québec, IGA is not selling "vins d'importation privées" (which is a white lie).

      1. re: Maximilien

        Yes, and Costco is selling some fancy-pants line of locally bottled wine, some of which are far from being cheap. I don't think we're lacking for the type of products sold at the Wine Rack.

        EDIT: Here's a link to the Julia wines sold at Costco:

      2. re: SnackHappy

        So the law is they have to bottle it themselves? I was hoping there would be scope for a proper independent wine store that could sell what it wants (of course, it would still pay the alcohol tax to the SAQ, but would hopefully avoid having to source its products through them). Really, the alcohol laws here are so ridiculously restrictive compared to, say, Europe.

        1. re: pyropaul99

          If you want different kind of wines not offered by the SAQ, just contact one of the many "private import agencies" in Québec

          Have a look at Glou, Rezin, Oenopole, La QV, Importation Insolite, ...

          more at the raspipav web site :

          1. re: Maximilien

            It would be nice if there was a streetfront store that had all these interesting wines, though! Oh, and spirits too. Was just in the UK - the selection in a regular supermarket is pretty good, never mind the specialist stores.

          2. re: pyropaul99

            (I'm not certain if it is still valid or legal)

            There's also a loophole in the current law that makes it possible to buy wine "to-go" in restaurant when you buy take-out food (for example it is possible to buy beer and wine when you order chicken at St-Hubert).

            Not all restaurants will do it; the only 2 that I know of (that I've bought wine from) are "Les Cavistes" (st-denis st) and "L'Emporte Pièce".

            1. re: pyropaul99

              They sell commercial wines, not all from ON. There is no bottle your own at any Wine Racks I've been to.

              1. re: CanadaGirl

                "They sell commercial wines, not all from ON."

                Yes, the wines are from all over, but they are bottled in Ontario.

                "There is no bottle your own at any Wine Racks I've been to."

                That was never implied.

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. Ok, here's a bit of research for you. Wine Rack stores are off-site winery retail stores owned by Vincor.


              In theory, a winery retail store is supposed to sell wines manufactured by the company that owns the store. Obviously there's some sort of loophole in the regulation that allows for foreign wine bottled in Ontario.

              Here are the rules if you want to read through them:

              9 Replies
              1. re: SnackHappy

                Some of them are the same wines found in Epiceries and Depaneurs here in Quebec, Wallaroo trail for instance:


                1. re: SnackHappy

                  Well, I figured out how they can sell foreign wine. If they blend 25% of their own wine with it, they can sell it as their own. That why they are all blends of Canadian and foreign wines.

                  1. re: SnackHappy

                    There are independent wine stores in BC, Alberta, and Manitoba (probably others as well). THey sell wine from all over, without concern of where they are bottled and no loopholes.

                    As a newcomer (well not so much anymore) to this province I have noticed that people often equate the rest of Canada to Ontario

                    here are a few examples from my home town for the skeptics out there


                    1. re: tdiddy23

                      The independent wine stores in Winnipeg were pretty underwhelming in their selection. Mostly middle of the road wines, not necessarily inexpensive, but nothing interesting. While Quebec and Ontario may be run by liquor monopolies, the selections we get are second to none in this country, IMHO.

                      1. re: cherylmtl

                        Certainly the selection at the SAQ greatly surpasses anything you can get in Manitoba, MLCC (their SAQ) or private. That is more a reflection of the lack of demand than anything else. My point was that the idea of a private wine store is not totally foreign to Canada. Given the huge wine culture in Quebec, I would think that future private stores here would be much better than their relatives in the praires.

                        1. re: tdiddy23

                          "My point was that the idea of a private wine store is not totally foreign to Canada."

                          Where did anyone say it was?

                          1. re: Mr F

                            Yeah, that's what I was asking myself as well. Especially since tdiddy23 replied to me personally.

                            1. re: SnackHappy

                              Well there was a discussion on the liquor laws in Ontario and QC, the OP then compared the situation in UK to 'here' which I interpreted as Canada given that we were discussing 2 provinces. I also think that for the uniformed reader based on the above comments it would be very easy to assume that the liquor laws were national and not a provincial issue, so I felt it was worthwhile clarifying this. SnackHappy I replied to your post as it was the most recent and i had scrolled down to the end, it was not personal.

                2. btw, it is my understanding that the two 'private' wine stores in Ontario (Wine Rack for Vincor and Vineyard Estates for Peller/Hillebrand wineries) are operating under "grandfathered" legislation, which means other private retail stores won't be opening up any time soon.

                  1. I remember that the Marche des Saveurs du Quebec used to sell some alcohol products, especially some fruit wines but also some grape wines as well: