Liquor sales a possibility at farmers’ market

With changes to provincial liquor laws last year, local farmers' markets are gauging interest from local vintners and micro-breweries.

When it comes to farmer’s markets, locally grown produce or locally made artisan goods usually come to mind.

However, there are ongoing conversations with local microbreweries and wineries in Creston to add some more adult beverages to the market selection.

Following changes to provincial liquor laws last year, selling alcohol at Farmers markets is now legal. That being said, there aren’t many local breweries or vintners who are ready to set up in Cranbrook and Kimberley markets, according to Erna Jensen-Shill, who manages the Cranbrook Farmers’ Market.

“I’ve talked with a couple of the Creston vintners and they are interested in the market,” said Shill. “They have been participating in the Creston markets, so they are interested.

“We’ve been having conversations there, nothing solidified yet, but we’ve been talking.”

She has also talked with the Heidout Restaurant and Brewhouse in regard to their in-house microbrewery—Fisher Peak Brewing Company.

Other Famer’s markets, such as those in the B.C. Interior, have had success showcasing and selling local wine, beer and spirits. The Moss Street Market in Victoria has a tasting area to sample local products and a Vernon orchard—the BX Press—has become a tourist draw due to their assortment of ciders.

“The market’s just a great venue for that, I can totally see people just grabbing a bottle of wine or something like that,” added Shill. “…I think that, as with anything, vendors—they need to see the potential before they can commit the time and the resources to actually get to the markets, but, for example, the vintners in Creston have been doing well there at the farmers’ market, so it’s that next leap for them to come here.”

Across the province, there are currently 299 grape, fruit and other wineries along with 109 breweries and 46 distilleries. Roughly 90 manufacturers have applied to sell their liquor products at a B.C. farmer’s market.

There are roughly 20,000 family farms in B.C. and the number of farmers’ markets across the province has doubled over the last 10 years.

“We are going into our second year of liquor sales at B.C. farmers’ markets and our members are anticipating another busy season,” said Jon Bell, the president of the B.C. Association of Farmers’ Markets. “The farm-to-glass concept is taking hold and has provided market customers with even more reasons to visit their market – from the unique opportunity to learn about local food and liquor pairings; to additional vendors that are helping to attract customers even before the market season is in full swing.”