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July 03, 2021

Buying wine out of province still a tough task

Despite a bill ending a prohibition-era federal ban on individual purchases of wine across provincial borders, most Canadians still can’t buy wine directly from an out-of-province winery, unless they haul it back themselves.

So far, just two provinces – British Columbia and Manitoba – allow consumers to buy out-of-province wince over the Internet or by phone. Ontario does allows its residents to buy directly from Ontario wineries, but still frowns at interprovincial sales.

"It just seems so ludicrous to me that we make a homegrown product. It’s local. It’s Canadian. It supports farming. It’s small business," one B.C wine maker told the Globe and Mail. "These are the kinds of things we should be supporting in Canada."

“The Canadian wine industry applauds the federal government for removing an 84 year old law which had restricted the opportunities for Canada’s growing wine industry to satisfy consumer demand for direct sales and delivery,” said Dan Paszkowski, President and CEO of the Canadian Vintners Association.

But most provinces are dragging their feet. While some are simply interested in protecting their monoply, others worry that allowing Internet sales could quickly lead the sale of foreign wines directly to consumers.

Here's where things stand now, province by province, according to Mark Hicken, a Vancouver lawyer who has been advising Canadian wineries on the issue.

Despite this confusion, some wineries are going rogue, selling to buyers across the country anyway, supporting the sentiments expressed by action groups like Free My Grapes, the home base for the Alliance of Canadian Wine and B.C.'s Free the Wine.

Have you bought wine directly from another province? Would you do so, if you could?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...