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29 B.C. grocery stores now sell wine

Save-On-Foods opens 19th store with an in-store wine department, in Mission
B.C.'s limitation that only B.C.-produced wine is eligible to be on store shelves has sparked international condemnation at the World Trade Organization | Glen Korstrom

Save-On-Foods officially opened its 19th in-store B.C. wine department at its Mission store on September 27, bringing the number of grocery stores in the province that sell wine on shelves to 29.

Loblaw Companies Ltd.’s Real Canadian Superstore chain sells wine in 9 of its B.C. stores while Loblaw's Peter's Your Independent Grocer, in Kelowna, also sells wine on shelves.

Selling British Columbia Vintners Quality Assurance (BCVQA) wine on grocery-store shelves became legal in the province on April 1, 2015, and Save-On-Foods became the first retailer to offer wine sales that same day at a store in south Surrey.

Wine from all other countries remains unable to be sold on grocery store shelves – a phenomenon that has prompted many countries to challenge Canada at the World Trade Organization for B.C.’s law being discriminatory.

The WTO in July created panels to rule on whether Canada has discriminatory wine-selling practices in B.C.

Grocers must own a specific kind of licence to be eligible to sell B.C. Vintners Quality Alliance (BCVQA) wine on shelves or have a different kind of licence to be eligible to have a liquor store within a store. The scarcity and expense of such licences is one reason why there are so few such stores in the province.

“Our customers love great local products, and offering them the option of buying a made-in-B.C. wine to complement their meals is just one of the ways we’re going the extra mile for our friends in Mission,” said Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones in a release.

Vancouver city council in June voted to ban grocers from having the option of having wine sold on store shelves in the city. Instead, it voted to require grocers that wanted to sell wine to have a separate liquor store within the grocery store.

The liquor store option is not popular with grocers because it uses more square footage, will be subject to requirements that the store not be within a kilometre of an existing liquor seller and will not allow shoppers to combine food and alcohol purchases. As a result of those restrictions there are no such stores in B.C.

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