Open those (wine) borders

It’s déjà vu all over again on interprovincial shipping

More than a decade ago, a group of folks and various industry associations began a grass roots campaign with one goal, to open Canada’s provincial borders to Canadian wine.

That is, to allow a winery in, let’s say, Ontario, to freely ship its Cabernet Franc to, oh, how about Newfoundland.

There is still a healthy amount of confusion about which provinces allow wine in from other provinces without having a wine consumer have to ship wine to a provincial liquor board where tax gets calculated before said consumer can fetch their wine.

About a decade ago, I sat down with MP Dan Albas and a colleague from the B.C. Wine Institute in a coffee shop in Penticton to inform him of this oddity in inter-provincial shipping.

At the time I, and others, were preparing a bid for what was then known as the North American Wine Bloggers Conference.

One of the goals I had was to have only Canadian wine at the conference, which would host several hundred wine bloggers and writers from mostly the United States.

Many had never been to the Okanagan (or Canada), and their Canadian wine knowledge often began with icewine.

MP Albas had a private member’s bill – Bill C-311, An Act to Amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors (for personal use) introduced in the House of Commons.

It became law in June of 2012.

The bloggers came to Penticton a year later. They had almost all Okanagan wine and a great time, I might add, as it was still too challenging to get wine from other provinces here for a myriad of reasons.

Thankfully, we can support local restaurants by adding booze to our delivery and takeout orders when they perhaps need that income more than ever. But here we are a decade on, and we’re still talking about shipping a nice case of Chardonnay to a friend across the country with no worries, penalties, or high shipping costs.

Enter a new petition.

Spurred on by Ron Kubek, owner of Summerland’s Lightning Rock Winery, Mr. Albas is once again promoting the idea of buy, ship, and sip to break down interprovincial trade barriers and allow direct-to-consumer sales of (Canadian grown and Canadian fermented or distilled) beer, wine, and spirits across the country.

The petition, which can be signed until Valentine’s Day, aims to have a new Bill, C-260, An Act to Amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, passed so all Canadians of legal drinking age can have wine, craft beer, and spirits shipped directly to them via Canada Post.

All politics aside, this is about supporting an industry that has been built by small businesses, families, and generations of farming, and I hope I’m not writing about a third bill a decade from now.


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About the Author

A creative thinker with more than two decades of experience in communications, Allison is an early adopter of social and digital media, bringing years of work in traditional media to the new frontier of digital engagement marketing through her company, All She Wrote.

She is the winner of the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association's 2011 and 2012 awards for Social Media Initiative, an International LERN award for marketing, and the 2014 Penticton Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Award for Hospitality/Tourism.

Allison has amassed a following on multiple social networks of more than 30,000, frequently writes and about social media, food and libations as well as travel and events, and through her networks, she led a successful bid to bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Penticton in June 2013, one of the largest social media wine events in the world, generating 31 million social media impressions, $1 million in earned media, and an estimated ongoing economic impact of $2 million.

In 2014, she held the first Canadian Wine Tourism Summit to spark conversation about the potential for wine tourism in Canada as a year-round economic driver.

Allison contributes epicurean content to several publications, has been a judge for several wine and food competitions, and has earned her advanced certificate from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

In her spare time, she has deep, meaningful conversations with her cats.

She can be reached at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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