By Jennifer Hoegg
Gail Smith is ecstatic about the provincial government’s change of heart on in-store winemaking.
“We are so excited,” the co-owner of the New Minas Wine Kitz said Thursday, Jan. 31. “It has been the best news we have ever had.”
Justice Minister Ross Landry issued a press release today, stating the province will “develop regulations allowing the legal operation of ferment-on-premise facilities, also known as u-vints and u-brews.”
Earlier in January, the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation launched injunctions against New Minas, Halifax and New Glasgow businesses offering the service. Smith and partner David Cvet halted their operation immediately and were not included in the final court application.
According the Jan. 31 release, NSLC will withdraw injunctions against the other retailers.
"We've heard from many Nova Scotians that they want the choice to make wine and beer in a retail setting," Landry stated. "We must be careful in how alcohol is produced and sold, and so any changes to liquor laws will be made in a fair and socially-responsible way."
Smith said she is eager to be part of discussions on new regulations.
“We know this industry better than anybody and have been always ready for discussion,” the Smith’s Cove woman said. “I’m thrilled to be at the table.”
Although she has written to the province, Smith said she hasn’t personally spoken to anyone in government about the matter and was pleasantly surprised by the news.
“I believed that cooler heads would prevail.”
In the meantime, Smith said, her customers will be able to make beer and wine in the store right away.
“We’re getting ready to back in business (Feb. 1),” she confirmed. “I believe that’s the same across the three of us.”
Plans for a second location in Digby that were put on hold a few weeks ago are now back on, Smith added.
“We have to finalize our premises, but our new Digby manager is starting training in New Minas,” she said. “We will be in business before the tulips are up. “
The support the couple, who bought the business in December 2012, have received from customers and other small business owners has been “fabulous,” she added.
“I don’t want to say it has been a nice thing, but the kind of support that we have had has been very, very heartwarming and at a time that I really needed it.”