EDITORIAL: Wine laws must change

In 2013, the wine bloggers conference will be in the Okanagan.

In 2013, the wine bloggers conference will be in the Okanagan. Wouldn’t it be nice if the attendees were able to ship some valley wines home to enjoy there?

As it stands now, they would be committing a criminal act if they tried, thanks to a 1928 law restricting the shipment of wine across provincial borders unless it is purchased by or on behalf of a provincial liquor board.

It’s often referred to as a prohibition-era statute, but in truth it comes from just after the alcohol prohibition laws were repealed in 1927.

That’s when the government brought in the shipping regulations, along with a near 50-year moratorium on licences for new wineries, which was lifted in 1974. But the ban on shipping wines, or any alcohol, has lingered.

The release of the moratorium means there are hundreds of small wineries, and online ordering makes it easy for them to bypass liquor boards and deal directly with their customers in other provinces.

That is, if the regulations didn’t make that a criminal act.

And politicians have been talking about changing the law for a couple of years now. Everyone seems to agree that it’s bad for business and puts the smaller operations at a huge competitive disadvantage.

But governments move glacially slow.

It’s really up to the people to show the government this is an important issue and we’ve only got two years left to make sure those wine bloggers can take home some samples of B.C. wines.

After all, even if they are from Toronto, don’t they deserve a taste of B.C.’s finest wines too?

— Penticton Western News