At the time of writing, the second anniversary of the amendment of Bill C – 311, which was changed to allow Canadian consumers to purchase Canadian wine for personal use from any province in the country, was being marked.
In two years, not much has changed. British Columbia, well on the path to modernizing its liquor laws, albeit a bit slow on some fronts, is an open province. We are permitted to purchase wines in reasonable quantities from other provinces and have them shipped to us to enjoy. Manitoba is open, and we are awaiting changes in Nova Scotia. But that’s it. Every other province and territory is closed.
When we think of other provinces here in BC wine country perhaps we only think of Ontario, but a look around Twitter reveals wineries of some sort – from grapes to other fruits, even mead – in almost every province.
Even Newfoundland has a winery or two. And it’s there where a significant change in the” free my grapes” campaign may be born.
At the end of June, FedEx will face legal action for shipping BC wine into Newfoundland, the wine itself being referred to as contraband. The amount that was shipped is unknown, but if we assume it was a friendly Newfoundlander wanting just a few bottles of BC wine, certainly that can’t be that big a deal?
Having attended recent conferences around the world on wine tourism, one of the barriers I speak to is the lack of reasonable access to Canadian wines for Canadians. If you lived in the Hunter Valley in Australia, for example, and were not allowed to order wine from the Barossa, would you revolt?
The development of a Canadian wine culture is frequently written about and debated. What is our wine culture? What should it be? At the moment, it is steeped in policies born back in the Prohibition era. Quite frankly, it’s an embarrassment to explain to wine lovers from around the world that a wine made in British Columbia may not be available next door in Alberta.
The champions of the free my grapes movement, most notably of the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers, need you as the consumer to now speak up. The federal statute has changed, the provincial attitudes have not.
Perhaps the issue in Newfoundland will shake up the movement. Alberta has also recently taken a step backwards when it comes to accepting interprovincial shipments.
Want to enjoy a glass of Canadian wine from New Brunswick? Take action to free my grapes. Learn more at www.freemygrapes.ca.