Sandra Chisholm pours some yeast into a mix at Water N’ Wine in New Glasgow. The provincial government has decided to allow the company to continue to let customers make beer and wine on site. Also pictured is employee Stella Fitzpatrick. ADAM MACINNIS – THE NEWS
NEW GLASGOW – Customers were happily preparing wine at Water N’ Wine in New Glasgow Thursday after seeing the battle won with the province over the right to brew on site.
The Nova Scotia government announced Thursday that stores will be able to legally allow customers to brew beer and wine on site. Its Crown corporation, Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, will withdraw its injunctions against Water N' Wine in New Glasgow as well as Wine Kitz in Halifax.
“This is no surprise to me,” said Charles Patton, Water N’ Wine’s owner. “I knew the decision was coming down the line. It was only a matter of time.”
Justice Minister Ross Landry, on behalf of Maureen MacDonald, minister responsible for the Liquor Control Act, said the province has listened to the public, and will develop regulations allowing the legal operation of ferment-on-premise facilities.
“The reason that we did that was because overwhelmingly from the public, they felt that the law and the rules should be changed,” he said. “We consulted and discussed as a government and at the end of the day, we came to the conclusion that we couldn’t defend the status quo and we felt that the process should be changed.”
Landry said the current liquor law has been in place for decades.
“As of today, we’re going in a new direction,” he said.
The province plans to study the practices of other provinces in creating a regulatory framework, according to a press release.
“As well, we want to make sure that as we develop regulations, that it’s done in a way that assures social responsibility, the quality of standard across the province and the health standards as well.”
Landry thanked the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation “for working with us in partnership and for the leadership they’ve shown in regard to this issue after hearing the public perspective.”
Patton is happy things are moving in the right direction. “It’s been a hectic few weeks, but my business has been under the hammer for the last six years. The people have spoken and they want U-Brews.”
“I want to acknowledge my riding, in Pictou Centre,” said Landry, “and thank the number of people that wrote in or called or brought to my attention directly this issue. As a government, I want to compliment the minister for accepting everyone’s point of view.”
Water N’ Wine employee Keith Beausejour said they’ve been getting calls and having people stop by to congratulate them since the news was announced.
“We’re elated, and thankful too, we’ll all be coming to work next week,” he said.
He said it looks like they’ll be operating business as usual at the store. The new rules will bring Nova Scotia in line with others in the province.
“We’re just catching up with the rest of the country,” he said.