South Surrey grocery store first in B.C. to sell wine (with VIDEO)

B.C. wines have arrived on the shelves of South Point's Save-On-Foods.

The grocery store became the first in the province to sell alcohol on Wednesday, after reports of the new product coming to South Surrey began circulating last week.

"As of this morning, you can buy wine there," a Ministry of Justice official told the Peace Arch News Wednesday, prior to the unveiling.

According to a news release, the Save-On location is partnering with the BC Wine Institute to represent almost 100 wineries, offering around 500 different B.C. wines on its shelves. All of the wine is to be kept on designated shelves and must be purchased at tills that have a Serving It Right-certified cashier who is at least 19 years old, the release states.

"No one wants to alcohol in the hands of minors," said Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, on-hand to drop the curtain on Save-On's new wine aisles.

She also called concerns over price hikes (for customers) not just "fear-mongering" but "beer-mongering", and she said prices would be more-or-less the same between private and government vendors.

"What customers wanted was wine in grocery (stores) and that's why we're here today," Anton said, referencing the province's findings from its Liquor Policy Review. Victoria says 80 per cent of all surveyed asked for liquor in grocery stores, which has been rolled out starting Wednesday.

"Liquor sales in grocery stores start today and that's no April Fool's," Anton added.

See: 'Liquor price changes small so far' by Tom Fletcher (April 1, 2015)

Food and wine pairings, including samples of wine, are also allowed in-aisle as a result of the province's updated liquor rules.

Those changes – resulting from the Liquor Policy Review, which was completed in late 2013 – are intended to increase competition in the marketplace, support a level playing field for liquor retailers in B.C. and increase convenience, choice and selection for shoppers, the release states.
Anton described it as "a milestone event for B.C.'s progress in modernizing our liquor laws."

MLA John Yap, who led the press conference in Surrey, also said the new rules "reflect modern-day British Columbia".

Overwaitea Food Group and Save-On-Foods president Darrell Jones said the addition of B.C. wines to the store is "a great extension of our already industry-leading selection of local products."

"Save-On-Foods is the perfect pairing for B.C.'s wine-on-shelves model, as we serve many nearby residents and visiting guests," Jones said, in a released statement. "We see local, high-quality BC VQA wines as a great extension of our already industry-leading selection of local products."

An ad on invited applications through April 1 for the position of 'Wine Advisor' at the store.

"Being a part of the Save-On-Foods team, the wine advisor will work in our wine department to create an exciting legendary customer service experience with prompt service, product knowledge expertise, and quality local wine products…," the ad states.

According to a Ministry of Justice news release issued last week, April 1 marked the first day that licensed grocery stores "are allowed to sell liquor through the store-within-a-store model and wine-on-shelves model."

The government's news release, issued Wednesday, says the "store-within-a-store" model will also allow grocery stories to offer a "full-suite of alcohol products", and it will be adopted gradually at locations throughout B.C.

– With files and photos from Kolby Solinsky, Black Press

Backyard Wines in BC Grocery stores

Backyard Wines was featured on the shelves at Save-On Foods Wednesday, on the first day of B.C.'s new era offering alcohol in grocery stores.

Wines at Save-On Foods in B.C.

Customers look at the estimated 100 wineries and 500 different wines on display – and for sale – at Save-On Foods in South Surrey, B.C.

Wines at Save-On Foods

Wines on parade in South Surrey, for sale on the shelves of South Point's Save-On Foods for the first time, on April 1, 2015.

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