Ontario alcohol market and the LCBO

The General List

The General List (GL) features many moderately priced wines of the world, which oftentimes are produced in large quantities, and which usually have substantial promotional and advertising budgets attached to them - quite often in the C$10,000.00 to C$50,000.00 a year range, depending on various factors.
Frankly, unless you are prepared to invest some serious money into promoting your wine, it is virtually impossible to feature your product in the GL.
The GL department issues a yearly bulletin with the types of products they are considering, which retail price they are looking for and various other factors. It is a very competitive environment and usually the LCBO will receive upwards of a 1000 submissions of which they will likely only choose 5 or 6.
If a wine gets listed and maintains its sales quotas, the LCBO will continue ordering the product. Once it stops hitting the targets, it will be de-listed which carries a financial burden to the supplier, usually a 25% rebate of the quoted price on all remaining stock in the warehouse.

Vintages

Vintages will publish its product needs on a quarterly basis, with similar guideslines as the GL. The main difference being that Vintages will ususally not re-order a wine. It may order subsequent vintages of successful products.
Again, as with the GL, the submission process is very competitive and Vintages receives around 800-1000 submission for each proposal. Of those, maybe 60-70 will be chosen for the tasting, of which 6-10 will actually be ordered. Orders typically range from 300-500 cases. As with the GL, sales quotas have to be maintained in order not be penalized.
Vintages also offers various merchandising options to promote your product. Further information will be provided. You can for example, if chosen, participate in the Wine of the Month (WOM) program for a fee of $4,000.00 which usually results in an order of around 1000-1500 cases. Retail prices for WOM typically range from $18-$20 per bottle.
Strong reviews from well known journalists will help in obtaining an order from the Vintage buyers for your product. Typically, medals won in regional competitions do not have as much influence in the buyers and consumers decision making as do good reviews from notable wine journalist such as Robert Parker, Wine Spectator, Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, James Halliday, John Platter etc...

Private Stock and Consignment

Since the LCBO can only ever offer a limited offer of wines to the market, consumers have the option of buying directly from the suppliers through private stock orders. This has evolved into the "Consignment program". Through this program, agents can stock products from their suppliers and can sell it to their customers. The product remains in the LCBO warehouse until proof of purchase is provided. Suppliers will be paid 30 days after the last case of wine is sold. This means, instead of getting paid 90 days after shipment to GL or Vintages, suppliers will have to wait until all of their order is sold.
For most suppliers, this is a great option to enter the market and sell their products to restaurants, golf and yacht clubs and private consumers. Suppliers should be aware though that agents are strictly monitored and can only have a limited stock in the warehouse. These orders are generally smaller, between 20 and 100 cases.

Information document for new product submission (pdf)