Okanagan winery restaurant makes case for expanded liquor menu

Owners of a winery restaurant in the South Okanagan have cleared the first of many regulatory hurdles standing between them and a fuller drink menu.

The rural board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen voted last week to send Tinhorn Creek Vineyards’ non-farm use application to the Agricultural Land Commission with a request that its restaurant be allowed to serve all kinds of B.C.-made booze, not just wine.

“What we’re looking for really is our chance to be able to go the ALC and give them our case,” Tinhorn Creek CEO Sandra Oldfield told the board prior to its vote.

She said she wants her restaurant, Miradoro, to be treated like other restaurants that are not within the Agricultural Land Reserve and can obtain a food-primary liquor licence to serve whatever they want.

Most wineries within the ALR hold a special winery-lounge liquor licence that allows owners to serve only B.C. wines. Tinhorn Creek, however, wants to add B.C. beers and spirits to its roster.

To get the more permissive licence, the winery has to apply to the ALC for a non-farm use exemption, which goes to local government first for comment. The exemption must be granted by the ALC before the B.C. Liquor Control and Licensing Branch will look at the actual licence application.

An RDOS staff report noted the board would also have to amend its own bylaws to allow a commercial restaurant to operate in an agriculture zone.

Oldfield told the RDOS board she doesn’t want her property to be rezoned for commercial use, which would attract a higher tax rate.

The board instead asked that the ALC amend its policy on allowable farm uses to let winery restaurants serve any type of B.C.-made alcohol, which would then remove the need for rezoning

George Bush, the RDOS director for Cawston, was the only member of the eight-person rural board to vote against sending Tinhorn’s application on to the ALC.

“For one thing, I don’t think you need alcohol to have a restaurant to start with,” Bush said prior to the vote. “The other is that the reason (the winery restaurant) was allowed to be on ALR land was to promote agriculture on it and I think we should stick with that.”

Allan Patton, the director for rural Oliver, initially opposed Tinhorn’s application, but agreed to support it as long as the restaurant is serving B.C. products.


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