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First BC Liquor Policy Review Changes Help Local Wineries

The BC Government has announced support for the first batch of recommendations proposed by the BC Liquor Policy Review. The initial 12 recommendations, which government indicates that they will proceed with, include a number of positive changes that will benefit the local wine industry (as well as local beer and spirits producers). The full press release and backgrounder are here: Liquor Changes Plant Seed for Tourism and Economic Growth. Here is a summary of the changes:

  • Numerous initiatives to promote locally produced products including working with the LDB, with tourism associations and out of province groups.
  • Elimination of the requirements to obtain license endorsements for low risk tasting activities such as picnic areas.
  • Relaxation of licensing so that wineries can offer products that were not produced on-site, including working with the Agricultural Land Commission to ensure that their rules also permit this.
  • Relax licensing requirements for wineries, breweries and distilleries.
  • Allow BC wine (and other liquor products) to be sampled and sold at farmers' markets.
  • Make it easier for consumers to purchase wine (and other alcohol) at festivals and tasting events including allowing both government and private retailers to operate temporary stores at such events.
  • Allow secondary tasting rooms for manufacturers (e.g. off-site tasting rooms away from the winery as in Walla Walla or Woodinville). For example and depending upon how it is implemented, this could permit a BC winery (or group of wineries) to open a tasting room and sales outlet in Whistler or other locations close to major markets.
  • Relax licensing requirements for tourist destinations.  
All of the above are welcome positive changes. There are a further 58 recommendations from the Liquor Policy Review which will be publicly released "early next year".