Wine makers feel sour about Kamloops Council decision

By Jill Sperling
May 18, 2016 - 5:02pm Updated: May 18, 2016 - 8:36pm

KAMLOOPS — A decision to prohibit wine sales at the Summit Dr. location of Save-On Foods has left Kamloops wineries feeling a bit sour. 

Kamloops City Council voted down a proposed variance in a bylaw that states no new liquor licenses will be permitted within one kilometre of an existing license holder.

However, Save-On Foods had purchased its license from the now closed Discover Wines. 

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"This is an existing license that was in place around the corner,"  Trish Morelli, executive director of Kamloops Wineries Association, said.

"We're not asking for a new license, we're not asking for putting, you know, wine and beer and alcohol in grocery stores. We're asking for a specialized VQA BC wine license to move around the corner a few steps to a new location."

The argument was made that wine sales at Save-On Foods could harm small businesses. Denis Walsh was one of the Councillors concerned for that outcome. 

"My concern is the protection of the existing businesses who have lived under the regime that we've had in the past and the rules," he said at Tuesday's council meeting. 

"It's been very expensive, they have a huge investment in their outlets right now. So I think this is going to open the door a crack, and then what's going to happen down the road?"

The store would have only sold BC wines, which Councillor Dieter Dudy thought could have been very good for Kamloops wineries. 
"Local wineries are also a small business and they have the right to try to get their product out to market," Dudy said. "From what I understand many of these small wineries do not have that ability because the liquor stores can't accommodate them, whether they be private or government, because there are so many small wineries out there."

Harper's Trail Estate Winery is one of those small wineries looking to get more exposure for its wines.

Co-owner, Vicki Collett said council is "protecting old business, they are not interested in new business and they're closed for new business."

Five of seven voting Councillors stood in opposition to the proposed bylaw variance, eliminating the opportunity for Kamloops residents to buy their wine at the grocery store. 

"It's not up to council to decide where and who and how you can shop in this city," Collett said. "Here's the Okanagan for instance, they have two wine and grocery in Save-On already, Penticton is going to have one. Why can't we have one? This is so backwards. It just infuriates me."

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