Labelling and Content Laws

Content and Labelling Laws for BC (Detailed)

The Wines of Marked Quality Regulation is the guts of BC\’s new wine labelling and content regulation. It creates 2 categories of wine: 1) the familiar \”BC VQA\” wine category which is actually a slightly watered down version of the old one, and 2) a new lesser category, the \”BC Wine of Distinction\”. BC VQA wines must meet all the requirements of the BC Wine of Distinction plus some additional ones (the most contentious of which is a taste test).

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Costco Loses Rehearing in WA

Costco has lost its bid to have its arguments reheard by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington in a case involving restrictions on beer and wine pricing . Previously, the court had ruled that most of Washington's state rules controlling discounts on beer and wine were permissible. Costco sought to have the case reheard.

Labelling and Content Laws

Overview of Content and Labelling Laws for Wine in Canada

This article is currently not comprehensive and will be expanded as time permits me to do so. There is currently a patchwork of content and labelling laws in place in Canada with no consistent national standards (although there is an ongoing initiative to do this).

Relevant Federal Laws

Food and Drugs Act (Canada)

Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (Canada)

Relevant British Columbia Laws

Wines of Marked Quality Regulation (made under the Agri-Food Choice and Quality Act )

Relevant Ontario Laws

Ontario Wine Content and Labelling Act

Explanation: BC Rules

This article provides a detailed overview of the wine content and labelling laws for BC .

In addition, the BC LDB (and other provincial liquor boards) require that any wine labels distributed in BC are approved by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The CFIA has an online guide to their wine labelling requirements here (see chapter 10 particularly).

Please also be aware that if you intend to distribute your product outside Canada, there will likely be requirements in the destination country. For example, all wine sold in the U.S. must get label approval from the federal Alcohol Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau (TTB).

Our People

Mark Hicken

This blog is written by Mark Hicken. Mark is a consultant to the BC wine and liquor industry (see his business web sites here: Alca Intelligence Inc. + TTGV Advisors). Mark is a former lawyer (now retired from law practice).

Mark has a B.A. (Honours) from UBC and a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the American Society for Enology & Viticulture and is on the Board of Directors of both the international and Canadian sections of AIDV – the International Association of Wine Lawyers (Association International des Jurists du Droit de la Vigne et du Vin). He has also completed the Wine Executive Program at the University of California, Davis. Mark is the Past Chair of the Vancouver International Wine Festival and is currently a member of their Winery Selection Committee.

In 2012, Mark appeared before the House of Commons Finance Committee as a witness in favour of Bill C-311 (the inter-provincial shipping law reform bill which became law in June 2012). In 2016, he appeared before the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce to discuss the issue of inter-provincial trade barriers and was quoted in their report \”Tear Down These Barriers: Dismantling Canada\’s Internal Trade Barriers\”.

Mark has been frequently quoted on wine law issues in the past, including in the Globe and Mail, the Economist, the National Post, the Vancouver Sun, the Toronto Star, Canadian Lawyer, Lawyers Weekly, BC Business, Business in Vancouver, CBC radio, CBC television, Global television, Wine Spectator, Wine Business Monthly and Wines & Vines.

Mark was the co-founder and co-chair of the annual BC Wine & Liquor Law Conference, first held in Vancouver in 2009 in conjunction with the Vancouver International Wine Festival (now the AIDV Canada Wine & Liquor Conference). He has spoken at many industry conferences including the 2011 12th Annual Viticulture & Enology Conference in Penticton, the 2013 MNP Direct to Consumer Workshop in Penticton, the 2014 MNP Direct to Consumer Workshop in Niagara, the 2014 MNP Direct to Consumer Workshop in Penticton, the 2014 Pacific Toast Expo, the 2018 Fortify Conference held in Penticton, and the 2020 Fortify Virtual Conference. Mark has occasionally spoken at international industry events including the 2013 through 2015 Wine Law in Washington conferences held in Walla Walla and the 2019 international AIDV conference in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In late 2017, Mark was appointed as the BC Government\’s Liquor Policy Advisor. In that capacity, Mark chaired the Business Technical Advisory Panel (Liquor Policy) which was tasked with making recommendations to improve efficiency and business relations between government and BC\’s liquor industry. The Panel presented a report to government in spring 2018 which contains 24 recommendations for policy changes (affectionately now known as the \”Hicken Report\”). The report and industry submissions can be viewed here: Improving Efficiency of Government and Business Interactions in BC Liquor Law and Policy. Mark continues to be an active member of the BTAP group which has continued to work with government on numerous policy reforms and Covid-relief measures.

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Welcome to

Welcome to! This site is dedicated to providing information on legal issues related to the wine industry in Canada. We will cover such topics as shipping laws, marketing laws, labelling laws, environmental laws and trademarks. All of the information presented here will be specifically designed for the wine industry. 

Please note that this site is intended to provide information only. If you require specific or personal legal advice, please contact either us or your own lawyer.

In addition, we have related sites which may be of interest: our blog ( provides commentary and opinion on marketing and legal issues for the wine industry and our related site ( provides a full range of marketing services

Retail and Distribution Laws

Brief History of BC Wine & Liquor Laws

Current B.C. liquor laws do not make sense at all unless you have some sense of their history and development from the time of prohibition (which is now approaching a century ago!).

Pre-Prohibition Era

In BC\’s earliest \”wild west\” days,
there was no regulation over the liquor business at all. Bars and
saloons were major features of the larger cities such as Vancouver and
Victoria. Many were open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week. During this
era, it was perceived that there was a substantial problem of
maintaining public order as a result of unregulated drinking and
drunkenness. …


Shipping, Border, Import Laws

Moving to Canada with your Wine Cellar

This article describes the process for moving to Canada and importing your wine collection. It focuses on British Columbia but the general procedure should be applicable in other provinces (although you will need to check).

If you are moving to BC from another country, you can import your wine collection into BC as part of your household goods so long as you have owned the wine for at least 6 months prior to your move. However, you must follow the proper procedure involving the BC Liquor Distribution Branch and Canada Customs.

Shipping, Border, Import Laws

Shipping Laws on Wine within/into Canada

Due to frequent updating, this article has moved … please see here: Shipping Laws on Wine within Canada.




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