Not too long ago we were in B.C. for a working vacation.
Starting our trip in Vancouver, a city we've had the good fortune of visiting a few times over the years, we stopped by what's become a favourite Yaletown wineshop specializing in local bottles. It's a gorgeous little store with a tasting bar, weekly wine classes and tastings, and a small, well-trained and exceedingly friendly staff.
Each time we would go, we'd leave a little bit exhilarated and a little bit saddened. Consoling ourselves over a bottle of a new found gem, we would fantasize about the wine shop we would run back home in Ontario if given the chance, and wonder aloud if our province would ever get with the program as B.C. had?
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when the Wine Council of Ontario invited us to a briefing to discuss that very possibility. For the last few years, WCO has been conducting studies on the value of opening Ontario's wine market to independent entrepreneurs, who would be licensed to operate their own wine stores in conjunction with the LCBO, similar to B.C.'s successful public/private system.
The group has recently launched a fun education website on this topic, www.mywineshop.ca, where any interested adults can design their own wine retail space; from theme to name — even the location where they'd open it — the website gives John or Jane Q. Public the virtual power to make it happen.
"We really do feel like this is the time," says Hillary Dawson, Wine Council of Ontario president. "If you had probably asked us four or five years ago, we would have responded 'meh, it doesn't feel right,' but it does [now]. This is something they [consumers] want to know more about and something they want to get involved with and to have that many people reach out .... [to] their MPPs already is great news."
The site has a convenient form letter that users can email directly to their MPP endorsing privately-owned wine stores. The site only went live November 19 and at the time of this writing, well over 300 people had contacted their MPPs and nearly 500 people had designed a wine store.
While the Wine Council of Ontario has not set a target for how many people they'd like to see endorse the campaign, Dawson says they're buoyed by the immediate positive response, and do plan on using the numbers garnered to further influence the government to open the market to private entrepreneurs.
Perhaps somewhat serendipitously, about the same time was launched and gaining an immediate ground swell, Ontario Conservative Leader Tim Hudak voiced his thoughts on the matter, possibly making it an election issue, saying Ontarions deserve freedoms of choice and competition.
Blog continues below slideshow:
This riesling offers a hint of sweetness, lively acidity and peach, apple, pear and citrus flavours that are natural partners to most appetizers and lighter meat dishes like turkey or ham. The fruity nature of this wine will temper the heat in spicier dishes but feel right at home with the whole range of traditional Thanksgiving fare. Product Info: $13.95, 750 mL bottle
A chardonnay offering a creamy-textured palate, balanced acidity and notes of citrus and ripe apple fruit that will easily deal with the deep flavours and textures of most dishes. The pleasant layer of oak also matches nicely to any smoky flavours originating from roasting or grilling and will stand up to any sauce or gravy. Product Info: $17.95, 750 mL bottle
Made from 100 per cent chardonnay in the Traditional Method, the toasty notes from sur lie bottle aging are magnificent with the roasted flavours of turkey and the smoky flavours of ham. Citrus, apple and peach flavours will complement all the fixings, while the sparkle refreshes the palate with each bite. Product Info: $18.95, 750 mL bottle
This local favourite offers a luscious palate, with lingering flavours of mango, pear, caramel apples and spice. The best of both worlds, it is balanced enough to drink on its own, yet offers enough intensity and rich, sweet flavours to match any dessert. Product Info: $24.95, 375 mL bottle
The beautiful pink colour and dancing bubbles of this Traditional Method sparkling rosé will add a buzz to the holiday festivities. Crisp and elegant, this versatile partner will greet you at the door, stay with you for appetizers, and enhance the dinner whether its roasted turkey or scalloped potatoes. Product Info: $29.95, 750 mL bottle
The bright pink hue and flavours of cherry and red berries in this lively rosé complements turkey the same way that cranberries are a classic match; the herbal notes in the wine pair wonderfully with traditional sage stuffing. Product Info: $11.95, 750 mL bottle
Flavours of blackberry, black cherry, cocoa and spice are the perfect complement for a prime rib roast. Salt in the meat’s seasonings and pan gravy will accentuate the fruit in the wine and act to soften its moderately firm texture. Product Info: $16.95, 750 mL bottle
Pinot noir’s cranberry, cherry, earth and spicy notes enhance lighter meats like pork, or roasted turkey without overpowering. Cave Spring pinot is dry, with a structure and elegance that reflects Ontario terroir. Product Info: $17.95, 750 mL bottle
The black cherry and earthy notes of this gamay meld wonderfully with duck, and mirror the tangy, fruity flavours of the accompanying cherry chutney. Always a classic for traditional Thanksgiving dinner, this is one of the best examples of Ontario gamay which shows poise and depth. Product Info: $17.95, 750 mL bottle
The wild, dark berry fruit flavours of baco noir are underscored with herbal, smoky and earthy notes. Baco has the intensity to stand up to the characteristic gaminess of lamb or dark turkey meat and has a good seam of acidity which cleanses the palate. Product Info: $14.95, 750 mL bottle