You know it's time to change the system when...

... something is absolutely ridiculous, but accepted as normal because "that's how the regulations are written." I've had a couple of days to cool off, but it's really not helping. For those unfamiliar with the saga, it began with the simple request: "How can I sell wine to a local restaurant?" I contacted the LCBO. Three weeks (or so) later, they tell me it's not their jurisdiction; call the AGCO. I contacted the AGCO. Two weeks later(or so) later, they tell me it's not their jurisdiction; call the LCBO. (Turns out that the AGCO was correct) Frustrated, I contact my Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Steve Clark. His right-hand man Micheal always gets answers when I can't. We LOVE Steve and Micheal. They contact the LCBO. 24 hours later, they are told it's not their jurisdiction; call the AGCO. I feel like I'm in an Abbott and Costello skit. THIRD BASE! They contact the AGCO. 48 hours later (notice the shorter response times???), they send him a note, copied to me showing the legislation and why it really is the LCBO's jurisdiction. I CALL the LCBO this time using the info from the AGCO (thank you Lyn). I finally get an answer to the question, but it leaves me stunned and amazed at the stupidity of it. Sit down while you read this. Let me start by saying we strive to leave as little of a footprint as possible. We generate only the electricity we need. We source fruit as close as possible to the winery, etc. The nice lady at the LCBO tells me that in order to sell wine to a restaurant, I need to get the order and submit it to the LCBO. Then I need to send the wine to the LCBO head office in Toronto. They will process the order and ship it to the restaurant. The reason I am stunned and amazed is because the restaurant in question is 3 KILOMETRES from the winery. To sell the restaurant my wine, it needs to take a 600 KILOMETRE DETOUR. When Is topped laughing (the LCBO lady was NOT amused, at least, not as much as I), she says to me "I understand the logistical challenges, but that's the way the legislation is written." More laughing on my part. Silence on the other end of the line. THEN, she asks me if I want to place an order! REALLY??? She seems surprised when I reply that no, I won't be placing an order becauser that is the most ridiculous process I have EVER heard of. I mention that I only make $1 or so a bottle, and the LCBO makes close to $6. I can't afford to ship it to Toronto and back. Imagine the carbon miles? "No, it's the client who pays that." She can't see me banging my head on the desk... That would add nearly $4 a bottle to the cost. She was unfazed. I offered to drive it to the local LCBO instead. "They wouldn't know what to do with it since it's not in the system." Could they put it in the system? "No, by regulations it has to be done by head office." If I send you the info, could you put it into the system? "Yes, but it needs to go through the regular process." I know this is in excess of 3 months since we're trying to get our Apple wine in the LCBO (although I'm not sure why...). Once again, I reiterate how insane this process is. Silence on the other end of the line. Something is very, very wrong with this system. I send this to my MPP... he doesn't believe me! Well, he does, but admittedly, it sounds insane. Apparently, the main reason I can't simply drop off the wine and report it is because the LCBO appears to think wineries incapable of filling out paperwork showing a direct delivery to a licensee. After all the practice they give us every month, as far as paperwork goes, you'd think we were ROCKET SCIENTISTS... What about a simple template that we could fill out? So there you have it. Unless you are in Downtown Toronto, it's not very likely that you'll see a small (non-VQA) winery's product in your local restaurant. Call your MPP. Let them know that it makes no sense that a wine from California or Europe can get to the table easier than a local wine. I'm making Blueberry wine this weekend using fine wild blueberries from North Ontario. I would love to serve it to you with dinner, but unless you buy it directly from the winery, you'll need to buy something else. Have an excellent weekend! ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Louis Gaal is the winemaker (and spouse of the ever patient Claire Faguy) at Blue Gypsy Wines in Oxford Mills, Ontario Canada, 45 minutes south of Ottawa. You can find this raving lunatic using the BlueGypsyWines Facebook or Twitter account. Visit them on the web as well at www.BlueGypsyWines.com


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