A wine rack at a Portland, Oregon grocery store (Image: Rebecca Wilson)
On New Year’s Eve, the Ministry of Finance announced that, at long last, grocery stores will be able to sell liquor—but not in the freewheeling, wine-shelf-in-every-Metro manner that many Ontario drinkers wanted. Instead, the LCBO will be setting up about 10 “LCBO Express” locations across the province over the next 12 to 18 months. The shops will be staffed by LCBO employees and sell products from the normal LCBO roster. The liquor monopoly also has plans for five “VQA Destination Boutiques” inside existing LCBO locations that will focus on an expanded selection of Ontario VQA wines. It’s not clear, however, whether the Toronto area will see any such stores. A ministry spokesperson told The Dish that the LCBO Express and VQA Destination Boutiques would only be appearing in “areas with growing demand but a somewhat under-serviced market.” Under-serviced is, of course, in the eye of the beholder, but with over 70 LCBO locations in Toronto—plus dozens of Beer Stores, Wine Racks and other grandfathered winery stores—we’re not holding our breath.