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Ontario wine chat and #freemygrapes

If you hang around Twitter regularly, you might have noticed a little something called the Ontario Wine Chat. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about the wine chat – here’s where #ONwinechat started.  It’s been great fun so far, and I’m amazed at how much we have covered in five months.  Searching the hashtag #ONWineChat is how you find us on Twitter, or you can also check out the wine chat page on Uncork Ontario where all the topics and archives are faithfully organized by Shawn McCormick.

Tonight’s Ontario wine chat is all about a movement to open provincial borders to allow wineries to ship their wines anywhere in Canada, legally. Believe it or not, that’s not our status quo. In this great country, getting wine from one province to another has been illegal, unwieldy, impossible or bootlegging – depending on who you ask.

It’s time for things to change.

I went to Niagara last year and came home empty-handed. A wine excursion took me to two lovely wineries (Flat Rock Cellars and The Good Earth Food & Wine Co.) on the day I flew out of Toronto. With my suitcase full, locked up and stored at the hotel, I didn’t have many options. When I asked if I could order the wine and have it shipped to Alberta, the answer was of course, no, I couldn’t. And now, with endless wines recommended to me by my community of wine lovers in Ontario, I’m still out of luck.  I can order almost anything else I want online in Canada and have it delivered to my home, but wine has more limitations than is reasonable.

The wine chat is a great place to find like-minded wine lovers. Inspired by the BC wine chat that occurs weekly, led by Sandra Oldfield, it brings together people who make, love and/or support Ontario wine. I love the community, I love the banter, and I love the exposure to so much experience and wisdom.  The generosity of people in the wine industry never ceases to amaze me.  Longtime wine enthusiasts come to share what they have been enjoying the last decade (or more!) in Ontario wine. They share memories and experiences, and advise those less experienced. And then the producers – the winemakers themselves – chime in. They share what they know, what they love about the region where they live and work.  Best of all, they will recommend another winery’s wines as easily as they share information about their own wines.

But bringing together a community of intelligent, passionate, committed wine lovers did more than just give us a weekly chance to talk about wine and share what was in our glass. It also helped us keep an important conversation going – about what the wine industry faces when it comes to shipping within Canada.  Tonight, that conversation goes live.

We want a Canadian wine culture where we can order wine from our favourite wineries. We want Ontario to reciprocate what was started in BC. We want it all to be simpler.

Here’s some background on the subject if you want to dive in a little:

Provincial barriers hamper the flow of domestic wine (recent Globe and Mail article)

A win for wine! Bill C-311 receives Royal Assent (last year’s Bill C-311)

And a couple of relevant blog posts:

Canadian Wine, eh?

A Canada Day wine column and a word from Free My Grapes

Or go directly to the Free My Grapes website for more information.

And if you’re on Twitter, be sure to join us tonight at #ONWineChat at 10pm EST as we discuss Bill C-311, what’s changed and what hasn’t in the last year, and the campaign to #freemygrapes.  It’s going to be an interesting night!


wine barrel



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