Wednesday April 16, 2014

Farmers markets welcome prospect of beer and wine sales

'Even having a presence at the farmers market would be fun'
file photo

John and Debbie Woodward in the barrel room at their winery in Westsyde.

Come spring, visitors to farmers markets may be able to buy a bottle of locally crafted beer or wine, a move that pleases the owners of area vineyards.

The proprietors of Harper’s Trail Estate Winery and Privato Vineyard and Winery told The Daily News being a part of the farmers market would be a good way to promote their products.

“Even having a presence at the farmers market would be fun,” said Debbie Woodward of Privato.

Speaking at a winery in her West Kelowna riding, Premier Christy Clark said she supports a dozen liquor law changes that benefit the wine industry, including selling wine and other craft-brew products at farmers markets.

The B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets supports the idea. President Jon Bell said details haven’t been worked out, but he sees this is a way to attract more people to markets across the province.

Andy Balogh, president of the Visions Farmers’ Market Society, agreed. His market operates during the winter at Sahali Centre Mall and during the summer at the B.C. Wildlife Park.

While the market can’t contractually sell liquor in the mall because of the Sahali Liquor Store, he doesn’t see any reason it can’t be sold at the summer venue, he said.

“It would be a good product to have out there because we’re catering to the tourist trade,” said Balogh, adding the downtown markets are also a possibility.

Harper’s Trail operations manager Bobbe Lyall said farmers markets are a good fit for her wines.

“To be able to do a sampling and show people what we’ve made locally, I think it would really fit in nicely,” she said.

Meanwhile, Clark appears to be watering down the idea of alcohol sales in grocery stores. She’s aware British Columbians are supporters of the convenience of beer and wine sales in grocery stores, but the government has public safety concerns.

When it comes to selling beer and wine in grocery stores, the province must consider public convenience, safety and the promotion of B.C. products, she said.

Allowing alcohol sales at grocery stores is one of 70 recommendations in a report submitted last month to the provincial justice minister by John Yap, the parliamentary secretary tasked with the review of liquor laws.

Private liquor store operators say selling beer and wine in grocery stores threatens their livelihoods and poses the risk of alcohol sales to minors.

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