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B.C. wine ban leaving local store shelves empty

B.C. wine fans have been stocking up since Rachel Notley put an immediate stop to the import of the product. The ban is in response to B.C.’s decision to restrict bitumen shipments from Alberta earlier this month. Premier Rachel Notley first suspended talks to purchase power from B.C> and then on Tuesday she announced the wine ban.

By Thursday, there were already some empty spaces where B.C. wines should be on the shelves of Vintage Wine & Spirits in Grande Prairie. Owner/Operator Kelly Ross says he’s taking a wait and see approach to the ban.

“It could last two weeks or it could last a year,” he notes, pointing to the 28 day ban on Alberta licence plates on Saskatchewan work sites as an example of a short-lived government holdout.

Wines from British Columbia are typically in high demand at Vintage Wine & Spirits, Ross says, despite their higher price tags.

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“B.C. wines are probably our number one selling wine category that we have. Being that B.C. is basically our neighbour every summer people come back saying, ‘I had this or I had that, have you got it?'”

Staff at the store report three or four empty shelf spaces, saying a few customers had made the effort to stock up on some of their favourite B.C. wines. However, Ross says he thinks the hospitality industry could be hit the hardest by the ban.

“They are the ones that promote the B.C. wines and a lot of the franchise restaurants are exclusive to certain kinds of the B.C. wines that are available. Not even liquor stores are able to purchase to sell them.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday that Canadians need to work together to balance the interests of the environment and the economy. Kinder Morgan, the company behind the project, is said to be preparing their legal team for a fight.

A Global News report says the AGLC has about 30 to 35 days worth of B.C. wine in their warehouse. It is unclear how much of that was already purchased by merchants around the province.

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