“Did You Just Open a Wine Shop?”

Ottawa should have an Ontario-only wine shop, don’t you think? Or maybe a Canada-only wine shop…

Recently, I’ve been asked that question a lot by friends and colleagues who have seen my posts on Social Media about the mywineshop.ca initiative. Sadly, the answer I have to (still) give is “No, not yet!”. And then I go into my spiel about what’s wrong with the single venue for wine in Ontario, and the massive burden it places on those same wineries on Ontario that this blog is all about supporting.

To refresh your memory, of the thousands of wines produced in Ontario every year, only a couple hundred make it into the LCBO. “Well how do they sell their wine?” you ask. Good question. The wineries can sell at the winery, through an on-line wine shop, or through restaurants (licensee sales). Think about a winery in a rural area like Prince Edward County…this means that if you want your wines in Toronto or Ottawa, you either need to be on the road a lot, promoting your wine, or hire agents to do the sales for you. Want coverage in smaller cities like Sudbury or London? Repeat the same. It really is the one of the most restricted environments in the Western World in which to attempt to make a living!

The Wine Council of Ontario started the mywineshop.ca initiative in an attempt to sway politicians to open the market. In the past there have been arguments about the Free Trade Agreement, and why there can’t be Ontario-only or VQA-only stores (yes we know they have them in BC, but that’s another story), so the Wine Council is encouraging any kind of wine shop…the owner gets to select the types of wines and from where they will buy them, obviously with the hope that some of them will stock Ontario wine.

Making it easy and fun to launch your own virtual winery anywhere in the province, you get to select the wines you would carry, where it will be located, and what type of shop it will be. At the end of building your shop, users are encouraged to click the link to send a note to your local MPP (don’t worry, they look them up for you based on your location). It’s not just about notifying your MPP though – it is a means to start the conversation and inform others about the movement. It’s to answer those questions “Did you just open a wine shop?” and get a chance to educate more of the public about the options that should be open to them.

If you have ever travelled out West (Alberta or BC) you’ve likely seen the wide array of wines available to the public. Yes, sometimes the prices aren’t as good as that seen with the purchasing power of the LCBO, but you can find wines there that you just can’t get in Ontario. It’s called a (free) market economy, where businesses survive or die based upon the supply and demand. And it is what Ontario needs.

What are you waiting for – go build your store now at mywineshop.ca or visit mine at mywineshop.ca/UncorkOntario and leave a comment!

UPDATE 1: Strangely enough, I just remembered that I had written this relevant post last year!

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