Wine Views: Why the LCBO is an essential service

Our Wine Views columnist writes about the history of the LCBO and why it is considered an essential provincial service during the COVID-19 pandemic.


So, this time last year what were you doing? Were you thinking about getting the garden started? Or perhaps you were planning on opening your cottage.

Fast forward 12 months and wow, we have COVID 19. Who would have thought.

This doesnʼt happen to the most evolved species on the planet. A screeching halt to everything? How wrong were we.

The words existential crisis comes to mind. I canʼt help but think about the timing of it all. We just celebrated Easter in April. Spring, budding trees, tulips pushing up from the ground, work to start in the vineyards, all signaling the change of seasons. A rebirth of nature from the austerity of winter hibernation.

Now, we have people working providing essential services to keep us well, fed, watered and safe. How does one put into words the magnitude of gratitude that we all feel for these true, brave heroes?

But people have stopped me to ask why is the LCBO open?

Itʼs not an essential service they say. Bear with me for a moment to go back in time.

The LCBO came about just after prohibition had been rescinded, the concern being possible excessive consumption of alcohol. This Crown Corporation has been working ever since.

To connect the dots, every time you purchase a product(s), all net profits, go directly into the provincial coffers for us all. The monies remitted provide us with many things but none more important than our publicly funded health care system that we all value so much.

I can only imagine how our neighbours to the south are going to cope when they get a bill to pay for their health services if they havenʼt private insurance or enough coverage. It is deeply and profoundly troubling and tragic.

I have been thinking about all of the historical and biblical references in the world of wine.

For instance the commune names of Chateauneuf du Pape and Hermitage in the Rhone region of France. A Jesuit priest is thought to have brought the grapevine to Argentina. Trappist Monks and beer making.

Wine bottle sizes are named after biblical kings or patriarchs, Magnum, Jeroboam, Rehoboam, Methuselah, Salmanazar, Balthazar, Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible tells the story of Noah of the Ark fame, planting a vineyard when the waters finally abated. It also speaks of the first miracle Jesus performed changing water into wine at a wedding.

The list is long.

I canʼt help but also think about the “Slow Food Movement” born in Italy in 1989 by Carlo Petrini, or the “Blue Zone” centenarians longevity. The sixth of their “Power 9” lifestyle habits is that most all drink wine in moderation every day. Cannonau di Sardegna (a.k.a. grenache grape) is the wine of choice for Sardinians. (Available at the LCBO.) I though about when I walked part of the Camino Portuguese, the ancient Roman roads, seeing beautiful, very old, gnarly, knobby vines along the route.

Andrea Bocelli recently said that what everyone, whether or not they are believers, (religious) truly need right now is millions of clasped hands in the world hugging this wounded earthʼs pulsing heart.

We have an opportunity for a massive paradigm shift. You are, after all, what you eat and drink. Your health is your wealth.

LCBO workers are included on my list of brave heroes.

Slàinte mhath!

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