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LCBO Feeling the Pinch of the Recession

In the midst of a very real recession, we hear talk of it being a good time to buy. Real estate gets more affordable, retailers have Boxing Day-like sales the week before Christmas, and hell freezes over and pigs fly. Yes, the LCBO is doing something it hasn't done in... as long as I've been of legal drinking age (or maybe even ever). They're having their third Vintages sale in as many months. Wow.

But what is even more interesting and far more telling is that the LCBO has suspended all submissions into the Vintages program (PDF), pending further review of sales and inventory plans.

What does this mean to the average wine consumer? Not much. Most wine buyers are quite content with the "million bottles, all the same" (i.e. mass-produced plonk) that lines the stores' regular wine shelves. Not much has changed in that regard. You'll always be able to find wine with kangaroos on the label, in cat-shaped bottles, and in tetra packs.

But what does it mean to the more discriminating wine buyer? Again, not much. Vintages works several months ahead of schedule, so a lot is still being released every two weeks, as planned many months ago. Depending on how things go over the coming months, it may not be obvious that they're releasing less at all.

Of course, in the unlikely event that things get really scarce in Vintages corners, there are alternatives to the LCBO retail chain. After all, what the retail stores sell is just a drop in the bucket. Getting friends together to do a group Private Order, joining one of many wine buying clubs, and filling your suitcase with goodies when you travel abroad (and paying duty of course) are all still viable means of getting unique products that the LCBO doesn't carry in their stores.


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