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ANDRE PROULX, GUEST COLUMNIST
On Tuesday morning I watched Premier Kathleen Wynne pat herself on the back and purchase the first six-pack of beer at a grocery store in Ontario.
I watch social media fill up with cheers and applause that we can finally — in late 2015 — get beer in a grocery store like so many civilized jurisdictions on the planet.
I do need to tip my hat to the province for allocating 50% of the shelf space to craft beers.
But I am still scratching my head figuring out how craft beer leapfrogged over our local wine producers to be put on such a pedestal.
It would appear that the provincial government is still in the process of giving the middle finger to small local producers of wine.
Don’t get me wrong I’m a huge fan of craft beer.
But it strikes me as odd that as a craft beer producer I could set up in any city or town in the province and have a shop within the city limits.
I can use ingredients that could largely be sourced from outside the province and produce it in the city.
Meanwhile, we are forcing our wineries to sell wine out of their cellar doors, largely located an hour or two outside of major urban centres.
If I don’t make enough wine I don’t even have access to the LCBO’s shelves and have to rely on word of mouth and people making the trek to my winery to taste my product.
Not to mention that VQA wines are made using 100% locally grown grapes while your favourite craft beer may well be sourcing their hops from outside the province.
As a producer of local wines, I am being denied access to the largest markets in the province.
What about Wine Rack and Wine Shop stores?
Both of these publicly-traded companies have grandfathered licences from pre-NAFTA times allowing them to carry wines from a handful of wineries.
Much of the wine sold in the Wine Rack is bulk wine made mostly from imported grapes, with some Canadian grapes.
In terms of the quality, I don’t feel they are a fair representation of wines produced in Ontario.
There are dozens of world-class wineries that don’t have access to the market solely because they aren’t producing enough wine to be listed at the LCBO.
When the Ontario government is asked why it’s taking so long to make the shift to selling wine in grocery stores the answer is invariably, “it’s complicated”.
I have a hard time taking that at face value given that in B.C. there are already a large number of private stores and even government-run ones that sell B.C. wines exclusively.
There is no excuse for Ontario to be so far behind.
There is no way that B.C. is so different from Ontario that it can serve as an excuse for hindering progress.
I’m looking forward to buying my first six-pack of beer from a grocery store. It’s a step in the right direction.
But don’t think for one minute I am going to raise my pint while thinking this is good enough.
It’s been 90 years since the end of prohibition and I’m sorry, Premier Wynne, but this is not good enough.
The fact it has taken 90 years to make this small change is not something to be celebrated. It’s a reminder of how our government continues to fail us.
— Proulx is a wine writer and has appeared on Global and CTV
December 8, 2015
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TRADITIONAL TRUMPS THE SPICE
The inaugural “Shortbread Showdown” at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery held December 5th and 6th , 2015 saw the daring deed of pitting Grandma against Grandma. In this “Generational Throwdown” shortbreads from each of Sue-Ann’s Grandmothers were tasted with discerning customers, neighbours, family and bloggers.
Of course, in any family debate, there can be no winners. However, a slim majority (60% of the votes) favoured the “Traditional Blue” recipe of Lu Staff, Sue-Ann’s paternal grandmother. The award? Bragging rights only.
Obviously, admires of Edith Burrows’ (Sue-Ann’s maternal grandmother) Savoury Cocktail Shortbread are devastated in their defeat. Their originality in flavour, ingredients and texture cannot be discounted.
Voting may have been rigged due to the popularity of the 2014 Riesling Loved By Lu. Brix was not present for the vote count hence the results are not “Brix Approved”. In point of fact, Brix is immensely dismayed that he wasn’t even given a sample of either shortbreads nor wine pairings.
Mark December 3 & 4, 2016 for an expanded “Shortbread Showdown” at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. The winery hopes to include entries from local bakeries, shortbread aficionados and local home bakers.
Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, also home of the “Fancy Farm Girl”, is a premium winery in Jordan, ON, Canada on the brow of the Niagara Escarpment. It is the ultimate assemblage blending over 100 years of family grape growing experience with Sue-Ann’s international winemaking acclaim. Clay soil with limestone rock beneath provides wine with intensity, minerality and longevity. The onsite retail store is open daily on the 200 year old family estate.
Proprietor / Winemaker, Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Inc.
email@example.com or 905-562-1719
Sue-Ann Staff will be featured in Shopping issue. Winemaker & owner of Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery.
Sue-Ann Staff is one of the FIERCE SIX: these women are taking Niagara to new levels with their contributions to the community.
MUST HAVE HALLOWEEN PARTY WINE! Sold out at the winery but there are still some remaining at select LCBO Stores..
NIAGARA UNCORKED: Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, Fancy Farm Girl - Flirty Bubbles