Ontario Wines will soon be available at Ontario Farmer’s Markets. This is HUGE.
An Ontario provincial government’s press release on December 17, about New Opportunities for Ontario Wine Growers was barely mentioned in the business news but this will be a game changer for all of Ontario’s wine regions.
There are around 100 Ontario wineries who do not sell through the provincialy run LCBO stores because they don’t produce sufficient quantity or because the LCBO cuts so deeply into their profits that they lose money selling through it. Unless a tourist stumbles upon their winery travelling country roads, they have to rely on word of mouth and a growing stack of awards to let people know they even exist. Come winter, opportunities for sales to new customers are miniscule.
While Peller Estates, Trius Hillebrand, Jackson Triggs, and Pelée Island and the other Ontario wine giants crowd the local wine section in the LCBO or have their own special boutique stores next to the supermarkets, they are just the tip of the iceberg. There are so many other amazing wineries that do not sell through the LCBO or only sell one or two of their vintages there.
In Prince Edward County, Sandbanks , Huff Estates, Rosehall Run, Casa Dea, Waupoos Winery and The Grange of Prince Edward have a good showing at the LCBO but most like Long Dog Winery, Karlo Estates, Sugarbush, The Devil’s Wishbone, By Chadsey’s Cairns, The Old Third as well as the best of Closson Chase and Norm Hardie are only available through their wineries.
The changes will also apply to craft breweries and craft distilleries which should be great news to Barley Days Brewery which is barely known outside Prince Edward County, and 66 Gilead Distillery which is now coming into its third year in business with a range of interesting spirits. Hopefully, cideries will also benefit from the legislation, as the Ontario Craft Cider Association has been growing in force over the last two years. While County Cider actually sold out of product this year, Bergeron Estates‘ Cole Point Cider will benefit from new exposure.
In Nova Scotia, wineries have used farmers markets to bring their wines to where the people live, year round, for over a decade. People who had never tried Nova Scotia wines now go to the market purposefully to buy them and sample what’s new. It has inspired a huge growth in gourmet food production, restaurant and winery partnerships, and wine festival events. Nowadays, nearly every Nova Scotia winery also sells through the NSLC because the demand is big enough to support the cost.
Santa came early for Ontario Wine Growers. It’s not everything on their wish list but it’s a good start.
Want to learn more about some of Prince Edward County wineries not on the LCBO shelves, see my previous blogs.