Central Albertans who want to make their own wine or beer, but can’t at home, now have a place to do it.
Paul Kirton, owner/manager of The Fine Vine, said he’s been waiting years for customers to be able to ferment wine, beer or cider on site.
The Red Deer business received its ferment on premise licence from the Alberta government Dec. 4. It was the first permit in central Alberta, and until recently, Albertans couldn’t make alcohol for their own consumption in licensed retail locations.
“It’s absolutely huge for us because it’s an add-on to our current business. We’ve always been a retail store and have been selling kits. We still will do that, but … now we can make it for people who aren’t able to,” said Kirton.
There is an additional fee to make alcohol on site.
Kirton said there are various reasons people can’t make their own product at home; an individual could be away from home too often, they could live in too small a space, or they may be physically unable to do the manual labour involved.
The Fine Vine, which has been open 21 years, has had two customers with disabilities make wine in the store so far.
“One lady was almost in tears of happiness when she bottled her wine the other day,” said Kirton. “She’d done it in B.C. before, but she’s lived in Alberta for the past 10 years. She walks with a cane, she can’t do the necessary lifting and that kind of thing.”
Ferment on premise operations provide customers with the ingredients, equipment and advice they need to make alcoholic beverages like wine, according to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission.
“We’ve joined various lobby groups over the years,” said Kirton. “Every time there has been a change in government, we took a run at it. We’ve been denied a lot in the past … but now they were very open to making the policy changes this time.”
Businesses in most provinces, including British Columbia and Saskatchewan, are able to get such licences. Kirton said this was causing Alberta businesses to lose potential revenue.
“We’re close enough to surrounding provinces … so people were going out of province to do it while on vacation,” he said.
The Fine Vine, previously located in south Red Deer, moved to a larger building in the north side of the city in 2017 to accommodate a future change in law.