Port Wine in Canada and the challenges of the LCBO

Last month, for the first time, I visited Canada. I was in Toronto for the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo, an event in which final consumers have access to a broad range of wines, from all parts of the world. By paying some dollars, people can enjoy a glass or two of a wine that not always is available to the general public.

In the Canadian market, the LCBO, Licor Control Board of Ontario, which is a Government-owned company, is the only entity selling alcohol in public store. Having this kind of monopoly for wine retailing, LCBO is one of the most important and powerful alcohol purchasers in the world. Therefore, the wine range available in store is based on the perception of what the managers of the LCBO think the Canadian consumer prefers. However, there are a large number of wine agents, who have a large selection of wines, some available at the LCBO, but most not, which can sell directly to the public, in what is known as private order.

In the fair there was a place where thematic tasting were being held. One of those tastings, Fortified Finale, was guided by Claudius Fehr, a previous category manager specialized in Port Wine at the LCBO. I was honored to be invited by Mr. Fehr to present our Ports at the tasting. But instead of talking about our Ports, I would rather show you a video of Claudius presenting a regular Tawny Port, from Quinta da Pedra Alta, a producer in Alijó, which is available at the LCBO. And this is a nice Port.

Let me know if you have any questions about this specific and complex market. I’m not sure if I can help you out, but at least I will try. Otherwise we ask for the help of my friend Steve Santos, who lives there as has a nice understanding of the market.


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