Along with milk, vegetables and toothpaste, anyone visiting Vernon’s Real Canadian Superstore can now pick up a chardonnay or pinot noir.
The Anderson Way store is the first grocery retailer in the city to stock B.C. wine.
“It’s an opportunity to give our customers access to great B.C. wines,” said Chris Smith, with Loblaws public affairs.
“Our customers are excited about this opportunity.”
Also eager about the move into grocery stores are Okanagan wineries, who insist it will increase exposure for their products.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Leo Gerbert, owner of St. Hubertus and Oak Bay Estate Winery in Kelowna.
“In Europe, it’s quite common to have wine in grocery stores. It’s nothing new.”
Akbal Mund, Vernon’s mayor, predicts government policies allowing B.C. wines to be sold in grocery stores will bolster the entire Okanagan.
“They’ve increased the profitability of the wineries and that has an economic impact for all of the community,” he said.
Leading up to changes to B.C.’s liquor laws, the public was consulted.
“People wanted the opportunity to purchase 100 per cent B.C. wine in grocery stores,” said Eric Foster, Vernon-Monashee MLA.
However, private liquor stores have raised concerns that wine sales in grocery outlets could impact their bottom line and lead to layoffs.
In response, Foster says the percentage of B.C. wine sold is small and grocery sales shouldn’t impact private liquor stores adversely,
He also insists that wine sales will not lead to beer and spirits being available in grocery stores.
“There’s no plan to go any further than wine.”