I was in the Bayview LCBO a couple of weeks ago and made it a point to look at the “Cellared in Canada” section – it was two rows of fancy displays (pictures courtesy of Larry Paterson’s website) and wine made from grapes grown somewhere else. Nothing wrong with grapes grown in other countries, but why is the LCBO trying to fool people who would like to support their local wine industry?

Jancis Robinson has written yet again about this embarrassment. She will also be a guest on “The Current” on CBC radio tomorrow morning to speak about this problem.

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take home the rest

September 6, 2009

Ever been to a restaurant for dinner and ordered a bottle of wine for two people? When I do, I drink a couple of glasses with dinner and there is often a third of the bottle left especially if I am driving. The person not driving typically finishes the bottle even if it is more than he or she might have wanted to drink. I have always wondered if we can just take it home like leftover food. It seems likely to reduce driving while under the influence of alcohol and to encourage a healthy relationship to wine.

I found out that since 2005 Ontario has a Take Home The Rest (THTR) program that allows it. I am not sure why this program is not publicized by the LCBO, the AGCO, the government or restaurants. According to the AGCO, any licensee (with no changes to their existing licence) can offer THTR if they seal an unfinished bottle of wine with a cork that is flush with the top of the bottle.

Obviously, restaurants can refuse the program if they cannot (on don’t want to) seal an opened bottle of wine. It is our job to encourage restaurants to offer it in some capacity so that we can enjoy wines not offered by the glass and still drink responsibly. The restaurants should benefit with higher wine sales but may not offer THTR because they are averse to change. I plan on asking from now on.

cellared in canada

August 18, 2009

What does “Cellared in Canada” or “Product of Canada Wine” mean? It means that high percentages of bulk wine or grape concentrate from other countries can be used in such a product. Beyond the fact that this is malicious false advertising, it also puts a lot of Ontario grape growers at a disadvantage. Recently, the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance protested about this in Toronto and now Jancis Robinson has written an article called The Canadian Con Contd where she derides our liquor boards for allowing it.

A couple of years ago, Tawse (if I remember correctly) released a wine called “99/1” as an humourous (and tasty) protest about our idiotic labelling laws. It contained 1% Ontario Pinot Noir with the other 99% coming from a premiere cru Bourgogne. It was delicious but drinking it made you feel like you were lying to yourself.

Why does the LCBO (and other liquor boards) continue to sell and promote this type of unethical marketing? Because they don’t really care about supporting Ontario wine since the profit margin is less and money talks. What can you do? If you want Canadian wine, buy Canadian wine. Read the labels carefully and complain as much as you can. Hopefully at some point Canada will be embarrassed enough to grow up and act like a legitimate wine producing country.

smells like rotting grapes

December 7, 2008

Why are Ontario wine grapes rotting on the ground? This year Ontario saw many growers who had tons of ‘uncontracted’ grapes – grapes without buyers. The Government of Ontario has provided a one-time limited “bailout” to assist grape growers who have uncontracted grapes. Steve Kocsis from Mountain Road winery had this to say:

“As thousands of tons of Ontario grapes are thrown to the ground to rot the Government of Ontario throws a bone for starving dog grape growers and farm based wineries to fight over. The bone is barely enough to feed a few, but hundreds will snarl and bite fighting to get a mouthful. . . .

Ontario grapes rotting on the ground while the shelves are filled with imported and imported/blended wines; shame on us all for not taking to the streets with pick axes and WD-40 ing up the guillotines. . . .

All I want to do is grow grapes, make wine, take it to market and make a living from the land. The only roadblock is the LCBO and the Government of Ontario and their co-opted industry associations purportedly representing our interests.”
-Steve Kocsis in a letter to the Grape Growers of Ontario

I support standards that limit grape production for quality purposes as is done here (VQA) and almost everywhere else in the world that has an official quality system. But, I don’t understand why these surplus grapes can’t be used for non-VQA wines.

It seems like Andre’s (the Giant) and Vincor would rather use less costly grapes from elsewhere than use Ontario grapes. This is hurting our farmers and adding pressure to lower farm worker wages in Ontario.