We’ve been forced to close our on-line store – for now.

Ok, kids, how does this fit into the grand scheme of things? It seems that the world of “virtual wineries” is under some scrutiny at this point. Wine maker Brad Cooper, long-time former wine maker at Township 7 and now at Serendipity in Naramata, has been producing top quality Pinot Noir under the Black Cloud branding for almost 6 years. He has recently volunteered to take down his online sales site because of a “crack-down on virtual wineries”. There are a lot of virtual wineries out there in BC right now but the line between a “virtual winery” and a “label” seems a little fuzzy. Has anyone ever visited the Prospect Winery? How about Sawmill Creek? OKV? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Many upstart wineries begin their production in other wineries’ facilities using the licence of the established winery until the upstart winery is established and can move into its own facility. Painted Rock’s first vintages were completed at Poplar Grove. Le Vieux Pin’s first vintages were also completed elsewhere. Incubator custom-crush facilities like Okanagan Crush Pad in Summerland have multitudes of labels belonging to ‘virtual’ wineries – what will happen to them? Seven Directions, wine maker Daniel Bontorin’s rosé focused label, is another one along with a sundry of other garagiste-type labels that have really made the BC wine scene vastly more experimental and extremely interesting over recent years. Could this be the end of this kind of creative experimentation?

Suffice it to say that “crack-downs” from bureaucrats are usually initiated by outside complaints rather than initiated from within the bureaucracy. While it will be interesting to see how this plays out, this is an unfortunate turn of events for wine makers like Mr. Cooper and Black Cloud leading up to the Christmas Season. Just like on their labels, let’s hope there is a silver lining.



If you been over to www.blackcloud.ca you will have noticed that the site is down. We shut it down voluntarily after a BC Control and Licensing inspector made it known in no uncertain terms that a crack-down on virtual wineries was happening and that Black Cloud, a brand of Serendipity Winery, was under scrutiny.

According to the powers that be, there is only one kind of winery in BC. That’s the kind that they license, and brands like Black Cloud, operating under the wing of another operation, are not going to be tolerated. They don’t like wine e-commerce to start, and operating a site without direct correalation to our parent license holder is making them, shall we say, concerned.

In a business environment that favours the landed, the financed and the established, it’s getting harder and harder to be an innovator and to create a winemaking environment that is…

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3 thoughts on “We’ve been forced to close our on-line store – for now.

  1. Thanks for elaborating on this, but as a web designer I have say, there must be a better way.

    “Taking down” a website as Bradley did will only add injury to insult. The site is now showing a 500 Server Error which might negatively affect his page rank. Any bloggers who have linked to that site are now getting Link Broken messages from Goggle, and that negatively affects them. I’ve regretfully unlinked to Black Cloud’s site because I can’t afford to lose favour from Google.

    It would be better for virtual winemakers to place 301 Redirects on their store sites to avoid the above problem and keep themselves in the good graces of Google. That would give visitors someplace to go instead of leaving them hanging.

    1. Thanks for the great comment Mari! That’s an aspect of this that I didn’t even think about and likely neither will producers be aware of this kind of thing. This is not a regular occurrence either and hopefully it won’t be for very long so let’s hope its effects aren’t adverse enough to cause too many problems in the future. How easy is it for people to make that change you suggest?

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