May 15, 2013 4:10 pm

Ontario wineries open for business Victoria Day weekend

File photo of wine at an LCBO store

Peter Power/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Ontario oenophiles looking for a glass of wine during the Victoria Day weekend will still have several options in the event of an LCBO strike.

With the deadline for strike action set for Friday, Ontario wineries and craft brewers are reminding people looking to stock up for the long weekend can order directly from their retail stores.

“If there is a strike customers can still get the wine directly from us,” said Tom Pennashetti, VP of sales and marketing at Cave Spring’s winery located in Jordan, Ont.

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Cave Springs is one example of several wineries in Ontario who sell their products through their own retail stores located at their vineyards, in addition to liquor stores.

“There’s been a build-up of our best selling products, like our Riesling,” said Pennashetti, adding that large accounts like restaurants and bars are already stocking up ahead of possible job action by LCBO employees.

Magnotta Wineries offers another solution for people looking for an alternative to the LCBO as they operate as a private business model alongside the Alcohol and Gaming Commission.

“Customers have to realize that if the LCBO goes on strike it’s not the end of the world,” said Rossana Magnotta, President and CEO of Magnotta Winery. “We are open seven days a week and have thirteen stores across the province.”

Magnotta, who recently purchased Kittling Ridge wines, features over 180 different products, and offer beer and spirits in addition to their wine at their Vaughan location.

Heather McGregor, a spokesperson for the LCBO, is hopeful a strike can be avoided as both sides are still at the table and negotiations are ongoing.

“We do have a plan to offer some level of service,” said McGregor, but couldn’t elaborate on the details.

“There’s no hard and fast way the union will stage a strike,” said McGregor. “Will it be a full blown strike? Will it be a rotating strike? We are kind of in defence mode right now.”

LCBO workers are represented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and  union president Warren (Smokey) Thomas said the central focus of the ongoing negotiations is the “inequities” around part-time work.

“So far, the LCBO is ignoring the glaring wage and scheduling issues for part-time staff. This is unacceptable to us,” he said in a press release.

The contract for part-time LCBO workers expired on March 31 and OPSEU filed for a strike deadline with the province for May 17.

-with files from the Canadian Press

© Shaw Media, 2013

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