NEWS

Sell Beer And Wine In B.C. Supermarkets, Groups Say

01/28/2012 12:27 EST | Updated 03/28/2012 05:12 EDT
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There’s a growing call for beer and wine should be sold in B.C. supermarkets.

"Common sense would say, ‘Why are we not going to grocery stores and being able to buy wine?’” says Ian Tostenson, head of B.C.’s Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

Some in the province’s wine industry agree.

"There's 200-plus wineries in British Columbia now,” said Christine Coletta, of Haywire Winery in Summerland. “We're all working really hard to do a great job and deliver a great product, so if we can get better distribution for our wines, that would be fantastic.”

Coletta said food and wine are a basic pairing, and supermarkets should sell both.

The B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union has not endorsed the notion of supermarket sales, but it also is pressuring the government to update regulations to have the province’s liquor stores open on Sundays.

The union calculates an extra $150 million in revenue for the government from Sunday liquor sales alone.

Making some alcoholic beverages available in grocery stores got a mostly positive response from those CBC News talked to on the streets of Vancouver Friday.

"That would be very convenient for me," said one woman.

Another said, "I think it would be convenient. In the United States all the grocery stores do."

The Rio already has a licence to serve during live events, as do other venues like the Orpheum, but current regulations hold that venues cannot show movies and sell booze.

Not unanimous

Not everyone is in favour.

As far back as the 80's, calls to sell beer and wine in food stores drew protests.

Some worried about loss of union jobs, others about making alcohol too widely available.

It's a worry some consumers still share.

"If you put it in the grocery stores, it just makes it more accessible and I don't think it’s the right idea," said one man we asked.

The province has said it’s considering some changes to the province's liquor laws and is looking at what the possible implications would be.

For now, alcohol producers are hopeful about seeing their own product on store shelves.

“I would love to be able to go to the corner store and get a bottle of Haywire,” said Coletta. “I think it would be great."