Sip happens.BC winemakers are feeling the grapes of wrath over demands from the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis (AGLC) to end direct sales to local consumers. In a strongly worded letter, the AGLC threatened to cut off wholesale access to BC vintners and stop stocking their products if they didn’t stop what it says are attempts to circumvent Alberta’s alcohol taxes.“To maintain the integrity of Alberta’s liquor model and to protect the interests of Alberta retailers and liquor agents, AGLC will not accept any inbound shipments from…”any suppliers or manufacturers providing direct shipping of liquor products to Alberta residents," the letter says..“While we are still unclear of the political motivation behind the recent AGLC letter, it is disheartening for our local growers and producers, who have already suffered great financial hardships over this past year,”Wine Growers British Columbia.In addition, the AGLC says it has concerns about sales to minors.The threat to withhold shipments is significant, because it effectively blocks the bottles from Alberta store shelves and restaurants.It also comes as the BC wine industry is reeling from potential crop failures due to last month’s cold snap that damaged virtually all of the province’s vines. It would be a double whammy for a $3.72 billion industry that is now facing what it says are artificial barriers to interprovincial trade. Wines that are shipped to Alberta tend to retail at $75 or more in a market where only 0.2% of wine is priced at more than $50.“While we are still unclear of the political motivation behind the recent AGLC letter, it is disheartening for our local growers and producers, who have already suffered great financial hardships over this past year,” said Miles Prodan, president and CEO of Wine Growers British Columbia. “We are concerned of being targeted once again for political gain that has nothing to do with our industry,”Federally, Bill C-311 permits Canadian wine to be delivered between provinces, free of barriers or tariffs. In 2017 the Canada Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) went into effect which was supposed to further reduce those barriers..Yet only BC, Manitoba and Nova Scotia have permitted their residents to buy wine and spirits direct. A recent poll conducted by the Canada Vintners’ Association indicates that 85% of Albertans support interprovincial direct-to-customer wine shipping.The WGBC notes that Alberta once allowed imports of liquor from other Canadian provinces for personal consumption, but those rules were amended to make importation from other provinces subject to the policies of the AGLC.The irony is that former premier Rachel Notley’s threats to ban BC wine is the first — and only — challenge under the CFTA. Alberta ultimately backed down.