11/29/2013 21:04 EST | Updated 01/29/2014 05:59 EST

SAQ outlets make more space for Quebec wines

Wine lovers in the province will soon be able to go to their neighbourhood liquor store, instead of having to go to a vineyard, to find more Quebec wines.

As part of the government’s ‘buy local’ program, the PartiQuébécois announced Friday it will award $4.3 million in grants over the next three years for qualified local wine producers. The money is to help them attain quality standards the SAQ requires for its suppliers.

“People should be proud of our home-grown products and proud of a government that supports its wine producers and the organic food industry — with more local products on our tables. That’s a stronger Quebec,” Marois said from the  Société desAlcoolsdu Quebec (SAQ) headquarters in Montreal.

Under the program, vineyards would have to be accredited by the SAQ, which would oversee quality.

Then, producers would profit every time one of their bottles is sold.

“Two dollars more for every bottle they produce,” said SAQ President Sylvain Simard, adding that the wines will be available at SAQ outlets starting in the spring.

“You will get all the Quebec wines on the shelves. Everywhere in our 400 stores you will find wines from Quebec.”

A small gesture, producers say

Local wine producers says the grants will help, but the government’s measure is far from enough.

“I don’t understand why they made the premier come to Montreal for this,” said Denis Paradis, spokesman of the Brome-Missisquoi Vineyards Association which produces two-thirds of all Quebec wines.

Paradis said his members have been lobbying for other measures that wouldn't cost anything — like having the right to distill wine by-products, or sell local wines in grocery stores.

“It's good to see that the SAQ got the message that they should position more the Quebec wines. That's good, but it's only a quarter of one per cent of what we're looking for.”