This December, five British Columbia wineries are coming together to address concerns over interprovincial shipping of liquor case R. v. Comeau before Canada’s Supreme Court.
Curtis Krouzel of 50th Parallel Estate, Jim D’Andrea of Noble Ridge Vineyard, Ian MacDonald of Liquidity Wines, John Skinner of Painted Rock Estate Winery and Christine Coletta of Okanagan Crush Pad Winery are joining forces to represent the Canadian wine industry, especially in BC, as all operate and produce wine in British Columbia with 100 percent Canadian grapes.
The case of R. v. Comeau is unresolved, but its decision has the potential to alter Canada’s entire beverage industry. There are many legal barriers that prohibit wineries from shipping across most provinces direct to consumer — with the exception of British Columbia, Manitoba and New Brunswick. This limits the reach a Canadian winery can have, in turn threatening their survival as a business. All five wineries facing the Supreme Court next month sell direct to consumer through e-commerce.
“Having a healthy Canadian market is very important to us, since this is our home ground,” says Coletta, owner of Okanagan Crush Pad Winery. “And we need to be able to provide to all of our fellow Canadians. At the core, that is as simple as it gets.”
Coletta and the other four wineries have opened a fundraising page to cover legal expenses, raising over $45,000 in under 10 days since its launch on Oct. 20, including one $20,000 donation by a former winery owner. Many consumers have been responding, voicing their support for a free Canadian wine market.
“Right now, there are five of us driving this,” Coletta explains. “But the outcome will impact all Canadian wineries. We are having people weigh in and contribute. It’s not just fundraising, it’s people caring about our industry.”
R. v. Comeau has the power to alter the fate of British Columbia wineries, but Coletta and team remain hopeful.
“All of us have been working for years to make it a healthy place for wine, and I think it’s in everyone’s benefit that the Canadian market remains healthy,” says Coletta. “We all need to be profitable and survive.”