'Wine on tap' program in jeopardy in Ontario
Joanne Oliver and Brent Hillier built their restaurant and wine bar on the premise of serving wine on tap instead of bottles, their wine comes in kegs.
“It has a longer shelf life, you don’t have to open bottles and have it go bad. Each keg holds about 29 bottles in it and the keg maintains its freshness better than opened bottles,” said Oliver.
But the wine taps at ‘Olio Too’ in Bayfield, may soon run dry. Oliver has been told by her wine keg suppliers, that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) is ending its four year pilot project to carry and distribute wine kegs.
“They’ve told us it just doesn’t belong in the LCBO, and we don’t really understand what that means, or where it can go, because the LCBO is a monopoly in Ontario,” said Melanie Kobelka, managing partner with Vinolution, a Canadian wine keg distributor.
Oliver says ending the wine keg program in Ontario, while it’s flourishing in other parts of the country, is frustrating. She says a return to bottles would hurt her business and other wine on tap restaurants, greatly.
“For us, the wine keg program is really important. It’s the model we built ourselves around. So if it goes away and the LCBO decided they don’t want to provide this program there will be a lot of small businesses that will probably have to do some big pivoting, and that’s expensive,” said Oliver.
CTV News London reached out to the LCBO for comment but they’ve not yet provided any information on the fate of the program.
“We’ve had the opportunity to show growth with the opening of the market in Ontario and we’re hopeful that we can find a solution quickly so that we can communicate to our customers, so they can maintain and continue to grow their businesses, like Olio Too,” said Kobelka.
“We’ve invested in the wine taps, we’ve invested in the technology and we’d like to keep it going,” expressed Oliver.