BC Wine Lover: Power of Twitter shown in BYOB buzz

Online chat on Wednesday evening among BC wine fans triggers talk of booze policy changes on Friday

BC Wine LoverWe're cross-posting an item from the recently re-launched BC Wine Lover website. Yesterday a very interesting political issue broke out about wine, when the office of the Minister in charge of liquor sales and distribution in BC issued a statement that they are considering allowing patrons to bring their own bottle of wine into restaurants. Currently, six provinces in Canada already allow this, but BC does not. The following post at the BC Wine Lover site gives some background.

On Sunday morning at 8:45am, I've been invited to speak on Public Eye Radio to discuss this matter wearing my BC Wine Lover hat. The excellent weekly political chat program is on CFAX 1070 Radio in Victoria, hosted by Sean Holman. To listen to the program online, go here.


It's a fascinating example of the power of social media. On Wednesday evening the #BCWineChat discussion broke out on Twitter at the usual 8pm start time. This week the online meet-up had a purpose – change BC's policy on allowing restaurant patrons to bring their own booze (BYOB). It's resulted already in the Province talking about changes. Here's the Globe and Mail's report:

This week’s Twitter event was held under the #BCWineChat hashtag and proved so popular that it trended in Vancouver, alongside such illuminating topics as #ghettojobinterviewquestions.

The chat was organized by Sandra Oldfield, owner and winemaker at Tinhorn Creek Vineyards in Oliver. Ms. Oldfield has been hosting weekly Twitter chats since December, though she doesn’t routinely aim for the controversial.

“We don’t always want to sound like we’re whining,” she said, before quickly adding, “so to speak.”

Ms. Oldfield said letting customers bring their own, perhaps fancier wine would make special occasions that much more special. She said some restaurants in B.C. do let customers BYOB, but only on the hush-hush.

There was no shortage of Twitter users who said the antiquated policy should be changed.

As Meghan Darker put it: “Sometimes you find a beautiful bottle of wine, and just know that a restaurant makes its perfect match. Why keep them apart?”

Chambar, a Vancouver restaurant, tweeted: “We support BYOB, people should be able to bring a special bottle out & enjoy a great meal.”

Now CBC is reporting a statement has been issued by the Minister in charge, Rich Coleman:

B.C. may soon allow people to bring their own wine to restaurants, according to the minister responsible for B.C.'s liquor laws, Rich Coleman.

Bring Your Own Bottle, or "corkage," is legal in six Canadian provinces, including Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

"Allowing customers to bring their own wine to restaurants is one issue the province is considering as we continue to review our liquor policies," said Coleman, in a statement issued on Friday morning.

Coleman cautioned that no decisions have been made, but wine lovers and the restaurant industry are already coming out in support of the idea.

"We actually wrote minister Coleman a couple weeks ago and suggested he should move on this fairly quickly. I think this is a good signal for consumers and for restaurants," said Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association.

Considering the high markup (typically 100% of the retail price of the wine) reaction to the restaurant industry is surprisingly upbeat.

Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Foodservices Association, said his organization would support the change in policy. Mr. Tostenson said the industry would want to set its own corkage fees, instead of having them put in place by the province.

When asked what a reasonable fee for bringing an outside bottle into a restaurant would be, Mr. Tostenson said: “If your average bottle of wine, say, is $40 and a restaurant’s making $20, that’s probably not a bad target, in average terms.”

We'll keep an eye on this fast-moving discussion about serving wine in BC restaurants. Stay tuned to BC Wine Lover!

– post by Mike. We encourage City Caucus readers who love to read about wine and food to "like" and "follow" BC Wine Lover by clicking the buttons below.

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  • Karla Sofen

    Can we work on getting the administrative license suspensions and summary vehicle towing laws changed too? I always liked the old way of a trials where you can force them to prove you broke a law rather than an officer just deciding on the spot. I’d go out and do this more often without the summary street justice looming at every turn. I never have more than 2 and never out less than two hours, but I can’t account for some officer being over-zealous in creating crimes to catch people doing rather than going after open drug use and sales.

    • ned

      Drinking a “little” and driving is same as talking on your cell phone, “hands free” and driving. It seems to me like a perfect conversation between Dumb and Dumber. You don’t carry an open bottle of wine in your car… you don’t worry about it. Period. 🙂
      $20 … corking fee? R U kidding me?

  • Bill

    The next campaign should be to get the taxes on wine reduced. The excessive taxation on alcohol must be one of the highest in the civilized world.

  • Reid

    $20 to be able to open your own bottle of wine? Wow.

    Further to Karla’s comment, I wonder how some (i.e. over zealous) police officers staffing a road check will respond when responsible drinkers are stopped and found transporting their open bottle of wine home. It could make for some interesting discussion.

  • Max

    There is one restaurant in Vancouver that I truly love that for years allowed you to bring in your own wine an in-turn charged a very minimal corkage fee. They only changed policy a few years back – due to where they are situated.

    Don’t want to mention the name as I don’t want to cause them any issues.

    As for Mr. Tostenson, well his greed is showing.