Import wine OK in grocery

Imported wine could soon be coming to B.C. grocery store shelves.

The province changed the rules to allow licensed grocery stores to carry wines from around the world effective July 8.

The news was expected given that the government in October said it would end by Nov. 1 its policy that restricts licensed grocery stores to only carry B.C. Vintners Quality Alliance wines.

The new policy comes as a result of a side letter to the Canada-U.S.-Mexico trade agreement, under which the B.C. government committed to eliminating the earlier restrictions, wine lawyer Mark Hicken wrote on his WineLaw.ca blog.

At least 29 grocery stores in B.C. are authorized to sell wine.

The government’s previous policy had come under fire at the World Trade Organization after protests from countries such as the U.S. and New Zealand, as well as the European Union.

But don't count on wine being on grocery store shelves in Vancouver, because city councillors in April 2018 voted to ban grocers from being able to go through the process to get the necessary B.C. licence.

Instead, they must have separate liquor stores within their grocery stores. 

That option costs considerably more for grocers because they have to build walls to hive off the separate liquor store, and the resulting layout would likely swallow some of the store’s valuable square footage.

Grocers such as Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones told Business in Vancouver that they are not interested in building separate liquor stores within their grocery stores.

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