The province’s micro-distillery and cottage winery industry is getting a boost in how it does business.
The government announced a number of changes to the mark-up system and the red-tape that can be a barrier to growth.
“Our local craft alcohol industry has grown from one cottage winery in 2001 to eight cottage wineries and eight micro-distilleries today with more to come,” said Jeremy Harrison, Minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. “Consumers are recognizing the quality of Saskatchewan-made wine and spirits and these changes will help ensure that this industry continues to grow and create economic opportunities throughout the province.”
The changes include increasing production volumes and a graduated mark-up based on those volumes.
That change is welcomed by Last Mountain Distillery in Lumsden which has seen tremendous growth over the last few years.
“It allows us to plan. We know we can go up to 200,000 litres and not be treated like Smirnoff and the other big distilleries. There is still a huge difference,” explained Meredith Schmidt, owner of Last Mountain.
A number of regulatory changes have been made allowing the producers to have their own retail space where previously they had only been allowed to sell at the production site.
Schmidt said being allowed to sell other manufacturers products in their store will make a big difference.
“To be able to offer them locally-made wine and beer, I’m super excited,” Schmidt explained.
Last Mountain, and others like them, can also now broaden their product base to coolers.
“We did a sweet tea and lemonade this summer that we did a lot of serving, but to be able to bottle that, package it and sell it under a different category, it is just that much more expansion we can have,” Schmidt maintained.
Changes related to the province’s craft beer industry are expected later this fall.