Justice Minister Suzanne Anton has claimed that B.C.'s liquor reforms aren't driving up prices.
However, wholesale price lists obtained by the Georgia Straight indicate there have been whopping hikes imposed on retailers after they lose Liquor Distribution Branch discounts on Wednesday (April 1).
It remains to be seen whether these prices will be passed along to consumers when the changes take effect.
Below, you can see examples of price increases on some wholesale wines between March and April of this year for independent wine stores, which will no longer enjoy a 30 percent discount.
• Kendall Jackson Grande Reserve has shot up by 84 percent.
• Langmeil Three Gardens 2010–11 Shiraz-Mourvedre-Barossa is up 69 percent.
• Kruger Rumpf 2009 Pinot Blanc has risen 68 percent.
• Fuchsia California white is up 64 percent.
• El Portillo Sauvignon Blanc 2009 has risen by 63 percent.
• Caramel Road Pinot Noir is up 56 percent.
• Alvaro Espinoza Maipo Kuyen has risen 54 percent.
• Cambria Julia's Pinot Noir has increased by 51 percent.
• Poggiotondo Toscana Rosso IGT and Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut Cabernet Sauvignon have gone up 50 percent.
• Sofia Coppola Blanc de Blanc is up 49 percent.
• Le Cadrans de Lassegue has risen 46 percent.
• Angove Nine Vines Grenache Shiraz Rosé is up 44 percent.
• Angove Coonwarra Cabernet Sauvignon has risen 43 percent.
• Clos du Val Carneros is up 42 percent.
• Tenuta di Arceno Chianti Classico Riserva is up 41 percent.
• Poggiotondo Toscana Bianco and Cameron Hughes Napa Lot 332 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon are up 37 percent.
• Waterbrook Riesling and Arceno Il Fauno di Arcanum 2010 Toscana are up 36 percent.
• Angove Long Row Moscato and Rafael Rosso Piceno have increased by 35 percent.
• Matetic Corralillo Sauvignon Blanc and Freemark Abbey Chardonnay have gone up 34 percent.
• Chariot Gypsy California red wine is up 33 percent.
• Peter Lehmann Clancy's Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, Crios Red Blend, and Crios Syrah Bonarda are 30 percent more expensive.
• Real Compania Garnacha and Real Compania Tempranillo have increased by 29 percent.
• Terrapura Cabernet Sauvignon, Terrapura Carmenere 4, Terrapura Sauvignon Blanc, Terrapura Chardonnay, Estampa Estate Blend Malbec Petite Syrah, and Scarlett's Spritzers Elderflower Lime have risen 21 percent.
Independent wine stores face many more double-digit increases in wholesale prices over this one-month period.
Things are also grim though not quite as bleak for private liquor stores, which will lose their 16 percent discount.
Many craft-beer prices and spirits will go up at the wholesale level after they pay new Liquor Distribution Branch wholesale prices on April 1.
According to a different price list obtained by the Straight, B.C.-brewed "microbrew" beers will be 17.5 percent more expensive at the wholesale level, on average, for private liquor stores. They will also face 14.4 percent more expensive B.C. "regional beer" at the wholesale level, on average, and a 9.5 percent average hike for B.C. "commercial beer".
All of this data appears contradict what Justice Minister Suzanne Anton told the Straight earlier this month: "If you're a private store owner and you were paying $10 for a bottle of wine on March 31, you should pay about $10 for that same bottle of wine on April 1."
In an interview with the Straight earlier this week, Vancouver lawyer Mark Hicken pointed out that the government plans to move to "pretax shelf pricing" on April 1, which will make the bottles initially appear less expensive to consumers.
That's because unlike today, the 10 percent provincial sales tax and five percent goods and services tax won't appear on the sticker price.
However when consumers arrive at the cash register, those taxes will be included in the bill.
"My expectation, actually, is that the prices in government liquor stores—the end tax-included price—will be almost the same," Hicken said. "That's because government directed the LDB to do that. The margins are extremely slim with those prices."
However unlike the LDB, the private retailers don't have the luxury of racking up fat profits at the wholesale level. Nor are the private retailers allowed to sell wine, beer, or spirits to restaurants.