Brewers, vintners and distillers to ship direct to Saskatchewan 

Prairie province joins Manitoba in alcohol free trade agreement with B.C., following announcement

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Lucky Saskatchewan-based lovers of craft brews will soon be able to order wines, beers and spirits directly from British Columbian producers.

The governments of the two provinces have agreed to lift barriers to consumers that will open up the shipping of alcoholic products made in each province, leading to door-to-door deliveries.

The agreement, between B.C. premier Christy Clark and Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall, was announced at the annual premiers' conference in Charlottetown, P.E.I., on Aug. 29.

B.C. has a similar agreement already in place with the government of Manitoba.

The announcement impacts around 275 wineries, 67 craft breweries, and 20 distilleries in B.C.

Tyler Schramm, co-owner of Pemberton Distillery, while welcoming the announcement, said the decision would have been more helpful had it been Canada-wide.

Pemberton Distillery is a small, boutique producer of organic spirits. It currently has six on offer, including potato vodka, gin and single malt whisky.

"We get a lot of visitors from Alberta and they want product shipped back to them and it sounds like Alberta is going to follow suit with this pretty quickly," Schramm said. "It would be great to see the rest of the country do it, for sure. It helps us to reach people looking for unique products and we're just not big enough to distribute to any of the other provincial liquor jurisdictions. Being able to sell directly to private customers is the only way we'd be able to reach those people."

Pemberton Distillery's customers, he added, tend to be connoisseurs of fine spirits.

"They are people who are looking for potato-based vodka or looking for organic, they usually hunt us down for those reasons," Schramm said.

At the moment, direct shipments are a "fairly small portion" of Schramm's business, he said.

"We would like to see this portion of our business grow, definitely. I feel there is an untapped market out there in the rest of Canada. It's not something we really push right now," he said.

"For most liquor jurisdictions it would be a small dent in their overall sales and we don't see any reason not to open this up to the provinces that aren't allowing it right now."

In a release, the B.C. government said it had been working since 2013 to open up the market.

Schramm said it is finally inching in the right direction.

"Once upon a time, it was impossible to sell online in B.C.," Schramm said. "The government opened that up in a small way and have made it easier to the point where you can have e-commerce."

The Pemberton Distillery currently has an online order form, but Schramm said they complete all sales by phone.

"It works out well for us, there are quite a few Schramms in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. We can ship to family now, which is good," he laughed.

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