It looks like the regulatory environment in Canada’s British Columbia will become even more perilous for wine producers in BC (and makers of other great products like craft beer and artisan spirits).
This op-ed from Pete McMartin seems to bring it all home.
To paraphrase the observations of the article from Admiral Ackbar of Return of the Jedi: ‘It’s a trap!’
From former license holder Simon Wosk:
I felt all along that eventually grocery stores would have wines from around the world. I also feel that any trade challenge will not go to decision as the B.C. government will announce that rather than incur a great deal of costs paid by taxpayers, they will give the taxpayers what they really want — wines from all over the world on grocery shelves. Wines from all over the world on grocery shelves may ultimately force small B.C. wineries to sell to large (wineries) and for the entire industry to ‘dummy down’ their quality in order to reach the lower price points of lower quality import products.
As these rules get wrenched open by international regulators, what does it spell for the rest of the country? Has BC set precedent for any similar measures that exist or might be on the books across Canada?
If you’re a BC producer and you’re reading this, what are your thoughts on what’s happening? If it’s as bad as they say, what can be done to keep the BC wine industry alive and well?
Until then, here’s the prediction from Pete McMartin:
Here’s my prediction. Foreign wine will come to B.C. grocery stores. The buying public will welcome it. The provincial government, who had campaigned on bringing B.C. wine to grocery stores as a boon to consumers, and which could not help but know that a trade challenge would happen, will make conciliatory noises toward the small and medium-sized wineries that it helped destroy, and possibly throw some money their way. Or not. Either way, it will have delivered on a campaign promise.
The one big winner in this scenario?
The grocery stores. They will make a killing.
We’d like to participate in this market, but have been advised that the current set of rules prohibit even referrals to BC producers (which is essentially what Drinky.ca does).
In our opinion, this is like telling Indigo they can’t list books from Random House.
So, as a reminder, we’ve put activity related to BC with Drinky.ca on hold until regulators figure things out.
That may be a while.