By mid-September, Spruceland Save-On Foods shoppers will be able to buy B.C. wines to go with the food in their grocery cart all under one roof.
Work began Tuesday on a 1,250 square-foot showcase for 1,000 different kinds of B.C.-only wine in the store.
Once open, the wine shop will have a dedicated team of specially-trained, knowledgeable staff that will help customers pair a suitable wine for that night's dinner.
All of the wines sold will meet the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) standard regarding origin, vintage and varietals for B.C. wines. All VQA wines are also tasted by a qualified panel for quality, according to the Wine BC website.
"So that's all we'll sell - locally produced 100 per cent VQA wine," said Steve Moriarty, director of wines with Overwaitea Food Group. Moriarty said the choice to place the wine store in the Spruceland Save-On in Prince George was because of its experienced staff and ideal location to best serve Prince George customers.
"We can't put the wines in every store," said Moriarty, who is currently on site to supervise the preliminary work to prepare for construction. "In the entire province of B.C. there's only 21 VQA licenses at this time available to be relocated into a grocery store and that's all there is. You have to buy an existing business that has one and move that into the grocery store so we have to pick and choose. We're very excited to come to Prince George. To this day there has never been a true British Columbia wine store in Prince George. So this will be the only B.C. VQA wine store north of Kamloops."
By law, wine sales are only permitted between 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. so the Spruceland Save-On, which is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day will sell wine from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., said Moriarty.
Overwaitea Food Group partners with the British Columbia Wine Institute to bring as many wines as possible to their customers, he added.
"So far we've had overwhelmingly positive response from consumers," said Moriarty, who added the Prince George Save-On will be the 10th location in the province to get a wine store.
"Because we're a local company - we're 100 years old last year so we've been around for a while - and our commitment is we're only going to sell local wines and when we commit to that our customers are thrilled with that because it generates economic activity in the province," said Moriarty.
"We want to sell wine as part of an experiential meal so selling wine in a grocery store we think is a natural evolution and it's part of the great quality local foods we sell."