Urban Daddy Recommends: WineWire.ca

This blog does not regularly endorse products or services.  That’s not why I started writing all the way back in 2004, however, I will mention, endorse or support products or services which I believe in, or feel that might be of interest to my readership. 

As a result, I am supporting this new Canadian business venture because I like the business model, it’s a Canadian business and, I know a wide variety of my readership, who have kids, could benefit from knowing this service exists, especially when planning a nice dinner a home with their spouses or when they want to enjoy a nice bottle of wine with friends or family.  I can’t tell you how many times over the years we have been invited over to friend’s houses or on playdates knowing that the hosts enjoy a very nice bottle of wine and not knowing what to bring with or if it’s any good. 

WineWire.ca, which launched in Ontario in September 2012, offers wine lovers an option beyond the catalogue of imported wines available at the LCBO by offering the first-ever one-stop location to learn about, discuss and purchase imported wines from a large selection of independent wine agencies, whose consignment wines are typically available only in licensed restaurants and bars.

At the time of its launch, WineWire.ca featured more than 250 individual wines for sale from a roster of 18 wine agents.  With approximately 130 active wine agents in Ontario, representing close to 10,000 unique wine listings (almost three times the number of wines on the LCBO’s general retail list), the number of wines and agents represented on WineWire.ca will grow significantly.

WineWire.ca acts as an independent marketing representative for the wine agencies that choose to promote their products on the site and has developed a convenient online ordering mechanism to enable customers to purchase the wines directly from the agent. WineWire.ca does not directly handle any part of the actual buyer-seller transaction. 

Consignment wines are wines that are not available for sale in LCBO retail outlets because they have not been selected by the liquor board’s merchandising group responsible for filling the LCBO’s shelves.  Consignment wines are typically bought and sold by restaurants and other licensed establishments. Individual wine enthusiasts can purchase consignment wines through WineWire.ca which come directly from wine agents in case lots.

The power of choice rests with the customer.

Care to learn more?  You can head over to www.winewire.ca, or you can continue reading the FAQ’s below which should provide some answers to questions you may have before you try this service.


1. Q: Does WineWire.ca actually sell the wines promoted on its site?

A: No. WineWire.ca acts as an independent marketing channel for wine agencies that choose to promote their products on WineWire.ca who have developed a convenient online ordering mechanism to enable customers to purchase wines directly from the agent.  WineWire.ca is a wine marketing business who does not directly handle any part of any actual transaction that occurs between the wine agent and customer.  WineWire.ca passes the order and payment information in a secure manner directly to the agent for payment and delivery. 

2. Q: Isn’t the sale and purchase of alcohol over the Internet in contravention of a number of legal statutes and regulations?

A: No. The sale, distribution and purchase of alcohol is strictly regulated in every provincial jurisdiction across Canada and WineWire.ca adheres to both the spirit and letter of these laws.  Similarly, any wine agent who promotes their products on WineWire.ca is contractually bound to abide by all applicable laws and regulations regarding the sale and distribution of alcohol.

3. Q: How big is the potential market for online wine sales in Canada?

A: Huge. Consumer spending on wine in Canada has been steadily increasing for the past decade, with some estimates pegging the total sales volume at almost $6.5 billion for 2012. Currently, online wine sales in Canada account for less than 2% of the total volume but it’s growing.

4. Q: Do people really buy wine online? 

A: There have traditionally been very strict restrictions on the sale and distribution of wine, spirits and beer between provinces. These restrictions have inherently worked against the emergence of the kind of online wine sales and delivery services you might find in the U.S. or Britain, but there is still a great deal of room for growth in this country, even working within the confines of these restrictions.  Over time, we’re hopeful that the rules and regulations will be amended to allow WineWire.ca to offer our services across provincial borders.

5. Q: Is it possible for minors to illegally acquire alcohol by ordering from WineWire.ca?

A: No, there are very strict regulations governing the delivery of wine and other alcoholic beverages to persons under the legal drinking age.  Agents must adhere to all applicable laws and regulations regarding the sale and distribution of alcohol. Anyone making a wine purchase through WineWire.ca must be at least 19 years of age and must present valid government-issued age of majority identification when the order is delivered.

6. Q: The concept of online wine sales in Canada is not entirely new, so what makes WineWire.ca so different?

A: WineWire.ca does not hold an exclusive relationship with any one wine importer or producer and visitors to WineWire.ca have the opportunity to learn about, discuss and purchase wines from any of the many competing wine agencies that choose to list their products on our site.   The power of choice rests with the customer. That’s the way it should be.

7. Q: What are consignment wines?

A: Consignment wines are privately imported wines distributed by agents through the Speciality Services department of the LCBO. For the most part, consignment wines are bought and sold by restaurants and other licensed establishments. However, individual
wine consumers can also purchase consignment wines from wine agents who import the wine, as long as they agree to purchase the product in case lots.  Case lots usually contain 6 or 12 bottles per case.

8. Q: What if I have a complaint about a purchase I made through WineWire.ca?

A: Customers should direct any customer service enquiries directly to the agent in question, however, if you have a serious complaint about the business conduct of any wine agency promoting its products on WineWire.ca, we want to hear about it.  Contact us
directly at 1-855-517-7555, or by e-mail at info@winewire.ca.

9. Q: Can I purchase wines from WineWire.ca if I live outside of Ontario.

A: Not currently. However, WineWire.ca plans to roll out its online marketplace for imported consignment wines to other provinces in the relatively near future. Follow our “News” section on our website or follow us on Twitter @WineWireCA for updates.

10. Q: Can I mix and match bottles within the same case order?

A: No. Wine agents are only permitted (and licensed) to sell wine by the case lot.  Unfortunately, this prevents the agent from mixing wines within the same case order.

11. Q: Does WineWire.ca only represent imported wines?  What about Canadian wines?

A: In addition to consignment wines exclusively imported from outside of Canada, WineWire.ca will also feature Ontario VQA wines not available at the LCBO.  These wines will be available on WineWire.ca as they are made available to us, so please check back regularly for details. 

12. Q: Does WineWire.ca only promote new release wines, or are vintages also available?

A: The selection of wines available through the agencies listing their products on WineWire.ca is extremely wide, from new releases in every price category to premium vintages and rare finds.

13. Is there a standard delivery schedule / fee for wines purchased on WineWire.ca?

A: Although delivery times will vary among the wine agencies selling their products through WineWire.ca, most wines can be delivered within 3 – 10 business days.  The delivery fee to have the wine delivered to your door is set by the agency.  Alternatively, if it is more convenient, you can have your wine delivered to a LCBO store anywhere in Ontario at no cost.  Customers choosing this option can expect delivery of their wine in about 2 to 3 weeks.

14. Q: How do I order a wine I’ve read about on WineWire.ca?

A: You simply browse the wines available on WineWire.ca, click “Add to Cart”, fill out your personal and delivery information and the agent representing the wine will call you to arrange for payment and delivery.  You can also call 1-855-517-7555 to place an order by phone.

15. Q: Is there a minimum order size I must place?

A: Yes. Due to strict provincial restrictions surrounding the sale of consignment wines, you must order at least one case lot at a time, which is usually 6 or 12 bottles.

16. Q: Is there any way I can try a wine before ordering it?

A: WineWire.ca promotes wine tasting events across Ontario, where many of the wines featured on our site can be sampled in a fun and lively atmosphere. Many individual wine agents also participate in wine tasting events in their local markets. Details are available on our website or on Twitter @WineWireCA.

17. Q: Are HST and bottle recycling deposits included in the price of the wines on WineWire.ca?

A: Yes. All prices presented on WineWire.ca are inclusive of HST and bottle recycling deposits.

18. Q: I am ready to place an order!  Is there any way I can track it once it has been placed?

A: Yes. All registered customers who order wine using WineWire.ca will be able to track the status of their order at our website under the “My Account” link. Also, WineWire.ca will automatically email the customer when their order is being processed and when it has shipped.

19. Q: What if I need to cancel my order? How do I do that?

A: If a customer needs to cancel or adjust an order for any reason, they simply need to contact the agent over the phone.  WineWire.ca provides the customer with the representing wine agent’s full contact information to ensure total satisfaction.

20. Q: Am I able to pick up my order in person?

A: Most wine agents are happy to allow you to pick up your wine in person at their offices.  We encourage you to discuss this option with the wine agent when they contact you to arrange for payment and delivery.

So if you are a wine-lover, or are curious about wine and want to learn more, then you must visit www.winewire.ca and make sure to check out all the episodes of Wine Wire TV where WineWire’s co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Adam Bekhor – a candidate with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust diploma program and Nelson Abreu – Wine Wire’s co-founder and Chief Operating Officer (who has earned his diploma with the Wine & Spirit Education Trust and was elected a member of the Wine Judges Commission of Canada) educate and enlighten you about the wines they have featured. 

In addition, if you are in Toronto, the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo (GFWE) runs this weekend, November 15th to 18th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre and WineWire.ca will be there.

If you’ve never been to the GFWE you have no idea what you are missing, especially if you love wine, as they have over 1,500 wines, beers and spirits at this year’s Expo, meaning you won’t be hard pressed to find a bunch of new offerings, including dynamic options from around the world. 

The GFWE provides everyone with the opportunity to sample a tremendous variety of wine that they may never have had a chance to try before.   

“There are so many great wines out there and the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo is the ideal place to learn about the differences between selections from around the world,” said Christopher Waters of the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. “You can sample the wines from Chile, jump over to France, go to Germany, then over to California and then finish in Ontario and discover what makes each region’s offerings so unique.”

One of the highlighted Ontario wineries at the Expo this year is Southbrook Vineyards, located in Niagara-On-The-Lake. Southbrook Vineyards is Canada’s first certified biodynamic winery and is also certified organic. The winery produces a wide variety of options such as the traditional Chardonnays, Syrahs, Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots but also branches out into fruit wines and the Canadian classic – Icewine.

 “If you consider yourself a bit of a wine expert or just want to check out some of the 2012 InterVin International Wine Award winners we invite you to the Fine Wine Tasting Lounge. Guests can sample rare premium consignment, vintages and private order wines in this casual, yet truly distinctive setting,” said Waters.

For more information on how to buy your admission or sample tickets, visit www.foodandwineexpo.ca.

Here is the link to a printable coupon for $4.00 off the entrance fee to the show from their website; http://foodandwineexpo.ca/sites/foodandwineexpo_ca/upload/pdfs/2012/GFWE_web_Coupon.pdf

General Admission tickets are $20.00 (before coupon) and keep in mind, parents, that there are no infants or children permitted at the Expo.

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