News Release

More action needed to free my grapes across Canada

Later this year, we will mark two years since the passage of Bill C-311 at the federal level, the first step in opening provincial borders to Canadians who wish to purchase Canadian wine and have it shipped between provinces – to themselves for personal use. There have been some successes, but there is much more to be done to free our grapes. The good news? BC and Manitoba have opened their borders, and Nova Scotia has announced that they will open their border, although we’ve been waiting for months for the regulations. The bad news? All the remaining provinces refuse to open their borders to direct wine sales and shipments, many only allowing for a meagre amount to be “on your person” while crossing a provincial border. Even worse? Except for Quebec, the legal burden has shifted from the wineries (the “shippers”), to the consumers and the potential risk is substantial. For example, in Ontario, breaking the liquor act could result in a $100,000 fine, imprisonment for up to one year, or both. More work is needed — here’s what you can do: Our efforts have shifted to the laggard provinces and we still need your can help. We have launched an Action Alerts e-newsletter; sign up via the form at the end of this post, or by visiting this link. We’ll only send emails when there is a new development (less than a handful a year). If you live in AB, SK, ON, QC, NB, NS, PEI, NF, please send a letter to your MLA/MPP/MNA voicing your concerns and your desire to free my grapes. We’ve got sample letters ready to go. Join us on Facebook and Twitter and keep the conversation going with […]

By |January 10th, 2014|Blog|0 Comments

MPP Rob Milligan: private member’s bill supports Free My Grapes

In Ontario, MPP Rob Milligan’s private member’s bill has passed second reading. His office issued the following news release, and you can read the bill online. This is a step forward in having Ontario open it’s borders to Canadian wine; be sure to write your MPP in support of the bill. MPP Milligan’s “Free My Grapes” Private Member’s Bill Passes Second Reading  (Queen’s Park) – MPP Rob Milligan’s (Northumberland-Quinte West) Private Member’s Bill has passed second reading with all party support. Bill 98 entitled “An Act Respecting the Importation of Wine, Beer and Spirits from other Provinces” amends the Liquor Control Act to add a provision that permits individuals of legal age to import wine into Ontario from another province as long as it is for personal consumption only. “I’m thrilled that Bill 98 has passed second reading,” Milligan said. “The Ontario wine industry is the largest in Canada and will benefit from inter-provincial trade opportunities.” Bill 98 has received support from wineries throughout the province, Free My Grapes, and the Canadian Vintner’s Association. According to a Harris Decima study undertaken in June 2012 83% of Ontarians believe that they should be able to import wine from another province. “Bill 98 updates an 84-year old law and allows greater consumer access to wines across provinces,” Milligan said. “Stakeholder discussions revealed how mutually beneficial inter-provincial wine trade can be. For example, a Nova Scotia wine club would like to enter into a partnership with an Ontario-based winery were they reciprocally promote each other.” Milligan hopes that since Bill 98 received all-party support the governing Liberal’s will expediently call the bill for third reading. -30-

By |October 1st, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

#BCWine stops traffic

Wineries from the Naramata Bench in British Columbia decided to slow traffic down to support the #freemygrapes campaign, attracting waves and puzzled looks from passers-by in downtown Penticton, BC. See more photos on our Facebook page; below is the news release explaining their “tractor convoy”. The ultimate goal:  have BC Premier Christy Clark present her fellow premiers with gifts of Naramata Bench wine during the Council of Federations meeting next week in Niagara, where Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne — her province is currently “closed” to consumer shipments of out-of-province Canadian wine — plays host. In BC, consumers may ship Ontario wine to themselves for personal use. Ontario has yet to reciprocate. PENTICTON, BC – July 18, 2013: Traffic on the iconic Naramata Bench wine route went a little slower this morning as a colourful convoy of winery tractors held up traffic enroute to MLA Dan Ashton’s office on Riverside Drive in Penticton. Loaded with a precious cargo of wines that make up the Naramata Bench Wineries Association’s ‘Best of the Bench’ Collection, the contingent went with a clear request: Pressure the Provincial Premiers to remove the antiquated barriers to trade of BC wines within Canadian borders for once and for all. In the year since the passage of federal Bill C-311, only BC and Manitoba have put in place regulations and policies to actually allow for personal importation of Canadian grown and made wine into their provinces. Effectively this means it remains illegal for BC visitors to take wine home or have a case shipped to: Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI, Newfoundland, Nunavut, NWT, Yukon and Nova Scotia. Recognizing that the provincial leaders will be meeting during the Council of Federations in Niagara […]

By |July 18th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments

NEWS RELEASE: One year later for Bill C-311

One year later – what are you waiting for? On June 28, 2012, the federal government rectified an eighty-four year old, prohibition-era law that made it a criminal offence for Canadians to carry or ship wine across provincial borders. Parliament’s support for Bill C-311 was unanimous and we thank all the parties in both the House and Senate for taking this important step towards freeing Canadian wine from this archaic legislation. FreeMyGrapes, a national non-profit founded by wine lovers who want access to all Canadian wines, also congratulates the leadership shown by British Columbia and Manitoba to permit their citizens to order wine directly from out of province wineries. Last December, we were hopeful that Nova Scotia would also become a leader in supporting Canadian wines when it passed enabling legislation, yet seven months later, the regulations are still in limbo. Hopefully, this situation will change soon. Unfortunately, the fears we expressed during the Parliament and Senate hearings on Bill C-311 have proven true. The federal legislation’s caveat “in quantities and as permitted by the laws of the latter province” has created a large I-can-do-nothing loophole. The latest update by Winelaw’s Mark Hicken highlights how eleven provinces/territories are still dragging their feet. While many have stated that they now allow individuals to physically carry a set amount of wine into the province for personal use, this policy change is of little value. We all know it has been a common practice for decades, with literally no enforcement. Adult Canadians want out-of-province wineries to direct ship to them, which was confirmed by a 2012 – Harris/Decima poll that showed 82 percent of Canadians believe they should be able to access wine from another province through online […]

By |June 27th, 2013|Blog|0 Comments
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