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Beer and wine now on sale at Farmer's Market
Visitors to the Royal City Farmer's Market will now able to assemble all the ingredients for a romantic picnic in the park, including a bottle of wine or a cold beer.
But until the provincial liquor laws loosen even more, they won't yet be able to enjoy that wine or beer with their picnic in Tipperary park.
That's a battle for another day, said Melissa Maltais, the market's manager. For now she's thrilled New West council approved the market association's request to permit the sampling and sale of alcohol at the weekly market.
The door for that possibility was opened by the provincial Liquor Control and Licensing Branch in June, when it issued a new policy directive to allow licensed wineries, breweries and distilleries to apply for authorization to sell their products at farmer's markets, subject to the approval of local authorities.
"It's so exciting," said Maltais of receiving that approval on Monday. "It adds a whole new level to the market. It makes it a little more fabulous."
It's not like the Fourth Street parking lot where the market is situated every Thursday through October will be turning into Bourbon Street.
Alcohol vendors will be limited to two per market, they'll also have to have Serving It Right certified staff on hand, and they'll have to provide extra insurance.
Maltais said local manufacturers have been quick to jump on the available allotted spots at the New West market.
Pacific Breeze winery will be at Thursday's market. They'll be joined by Steel & Oak brewery at next week's market.
Jorden Foss, of Steel & Oak, said getting his product to the market will provide him with another opportunity to communicate directly with new customers.
"It's exciting to get out of the tasting room for a change," said Foss, whose microbrewery below the Third Avenue overpass is just into its second week of full operation.
But without a bottling line, Foss said there will be some logistical complications to selling his beer away from the brewery. He said he plans to fill a number of one-litre growlers the day before the market, and then keep them on ice or in a cooling box while at the market. He'll also only likely bring along one of the brewery's three different styles of beer, until he gets a better feel for demand.
Customers will be able to sample the beer before they buy, said Foss.
Maltais said having two well-regarded manufacturers from the city showcased at the market is a special bonus. Pacific Breeze has won numerous awards for its California wines like Killer Cab, while Steel & Oak was the darling of the recent Vancouver Craft Beer Week even before its first run of beer was generally available for sale.
"I think with having local companies, they've already got such a community vibe built in, they've built such a following," said Maltais. "It's more than just somewhere to pick up wine and beer, there's a sense of community with their followers and that merges nicely with the market."