Friday, September 12, 2008

Shipping Wines: No More Mr. Nice Guy

By Julianna Hayes

Several weeks ago I received a question about with shipping wines across provincial borders. The reader who wrote wanted to know how relatives from Saskatchewan to the Okanagan Valley in B.C. could bring back or ship wines home.

I said that although cross-border shipping is supposed to be prohibited, many people do it without consequence. In fact, a large portion of B.C. wineries offer the service, as evidenced by this comment from a reader of my blog:

“Last year I had 19 cases of wine shipped by various B.C. wineries to my residence in Manitoba…Every bottle arrived in perfect condition. We visited dozens of wineries and not once was it suggested this was not possible or was illegal, in fact shipping was a regular service offered. – LW”

Call it incredible timing but suddenly liquor boards, including the one in B.C., are cautioning wineries of a crackdown on this practice. It started with Red Rooster winery on the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan, which received a stern warning by the Manitoba Liquor Commission for shipping wines directly to consumers in that province. Andrew Peller Limited, which owns the winery, as well as Sandhill and Calona, responded by ordering all its B.C. operations to cease filling out-of-province orders.

Now, many wineries are getting cold feet about what consequences they'll face.

At issue is liquor sales tax collection. All boards add a mark-up to booze entering the province and thus wineries shipping directly to buyers are viewed as tax evaders.

The ones who suffer, of course, are the out-of-province consumers. There has been a push for sometime to lift this archaic law, at least for homegrown wine producers. Indeed, if wineries from B.C. can’t ship directly to customers in Manitoba, Saskatchewan or Quebec, for example, it’s likely residents there will have to opt for mostly imports since their liquor boards don’t carry much domestic product.

Don’t expect the situation to change anytime soon. Governments are greedy when it comes to liquor and taxes, and the wheels of progress turn very slowly in this country.

1 comment:

curmudgeon said...

What do you expect. The monopolies see a vast loss of revenue and instead of finding a simply and cost effective solution, e. g. allow trans border shipping of wine for personal use only and limited to three cases per winery. The total number of cases would be less than 15,000 (there just is not enough BC wine from the small wineries to fill the potential national demand) and spread across 9 other provinces means a pitence of lost revenue for each of the authorities.But I guess that is too much to ask of monopolists who could not give a damn for consumers nor suppliers.