Corkage in Victoria

Yesterday it was announced that you can bring your own wine to participating restaurants in British Columbia, who can charge a “corkage” fee to open a bottle of wine you bring to the restaurant. This also means restaurants can close (cork) your unfinished bottle of wine to take with you, regardless if you bought it there or brought it. Beer and spirits are not included. Thanks to our friends at Liquor Plus for the initial research:

Establishment Charge
Cabin 12 $8.50
Marina Restaurant $20.00
Bubby Roses Bakery $12.00
Smoken Bones Cookshack $0.00
Brasserie L’├ęcole $30.00
Zambris $18.00

If you know of any other establishments in Victoria offering corkage, please let us know.

22 thoughts on “Corkage in Victoria

  1. withheld

    $20 and you migth as well buy their wine. I get they need to make up for lost alcohol revenue but maybe at $5-10 for corkage people might spend more on food…which is after all what restaurants are about.

  2. em

    I agree with “withheld”. A modest corkage fee would get my business. After all, I’d need to spend $$ on fuel to go and purchase the wine, then transport it to the restaurant. And what if a subsequent bottle of vino is purchased at the restaurant? I wouldn’t imagine that there would be any change in the marked up price on the 2nd bottle. This has the potential to be a very expensive meal.
    Question: Is this for restaurants only or for pubs serving food as well?
    Thanks for providing this info. I’ve put a shortcut on my desktop & will use it.

  3. Johnny Jiggatron

    As a consumer, I understand the appeal of corkage. As a restaurant owner, let me tell you that LDB has totally fucked us by just announcing it with zero consultation. This is not how you govern. Instead of giving industry a chance to voice concerns or suggest policy tweaks, they’ve thrown us in the deep end.

    It is obvious that after some initial price fluctuations, market equilibrium will take hold and prices will be stable. Also, let me extend a giant middle finger to Cabin 12 – thanks for ruining it for the rest of us, buddy. Places like Cabin 12 likely don’t even have a wine list and so a corkage policy is not something that they really need to worry about taking away margins from their other wine offerings. Instead, they just ruin it for the rest of us by setting a price floor that is way, way too low.

  4. withheld

    Actually johhny jiggatron cabin 12 has a reasonable corkage fee, if they have truly ruined it for you maybe you’re in the wrong business?

    Brasserie at $30 is a little ridiculous…as much as I love their food and understand they need to make money to make up for lost alcohol revenue I think $30 is greedy. Plain and simple.

  5. wino

    JJ, unless you were attempting to start a price fixing conspiracy, I greatly doubt Cabin 12 has ruined anything for you. For one, if you consider yourself in the same league as Cabin 12 and think that wine profits are integral to your business, I suspect you have other problems than a simple price war.

    Brassiere charges 30 because they can, moreover to discourage people from the practice without alienating that ludicrous section of the population that wants a $200 wine with their meal.

    For the mid-size mid-price joint, charge 5-10 bucks, greatly diminish your in house holdings to reduce overhead, and make the place a mecca for BYOW types. Or focus on wines you can’t get easily from the LDB.

    Or even better, work out a cost-sharing agreement with Hillside Liquor, BC Wine Guys, or whomever, and give free/reduced corkage, or even corkage rights, but only for wine bought from those establishments.

    This is an opportunity to profit, and you’d be a fool to sit griping while Cabin 12 (of all places) looks like the sterling example of progress.

  6. Marc

    Well-worded Wino.

    I, like Johnny Jiggatron, am a bit upset with the government on this. As a consumer I love it, as a restaurateur I have my reservations (there is a joke there). It seems that there was no or little consultation with restaurants and the first we were to hear of it was when CBC Radio showed up last Thursday to ask us our thoughts on the changes.

    This is definitely an opportunity for some business to to bring in some much needed business or for others, that don’t have a wine inventory, to allow their clientele to enjoy some wine with their dinner.

    In our case it has nothing to do with being greedy. We thought about not allowing BYOB in our place but not because we were concerned about our margins (I think you would be hard pressed to find a wine list with better mark-up than ours) but because we put a lot of effort (and money) into making sure that the wines we serve match the food that we serve.

    We have set the price high to do just as Wino suggested; to discourage it. Most of the wines that we sell are priced between $40 and $50. We do not want to take away from that $20 we make on those wines*. If you were to bring in a wine that cost you $50 or more, you would probably save money (there are some pretty good deals on our list if you know what to look for). Otherwise, you are better off choosing something from our list.

    The funny thing about the BYOB corkage rate is that it is discretionary: we can charge what we want, when we want. If the wine is French and not on our list the rate could be less.

    All that said; I am a fan of BYOB. Wine prices in restaurants in BC is outrageous. We pay too much and most of that is to blame on the government for not giving us a discount. We are forced to pay retail prices and then expected to mark-up those wines to make any sort of profit. Generally in any industry a retailer gets a discount on the product they are selling. Not only do we not get a discount we don’t get terms (we have to pay upfront) there is no delivery.

  7. Cabin 12

    And we WOULD HAVE GOT AWAY WITH IT TOO, if it weren’t for you MEDDLING KIDS!!!!
    All right, the jig is up. While masquerading as a small independent restaurant fighting to build a name in a tough market, secretly we’ve simply been building a base. Now, through extensive lobbying of the government, we’ve finally got our chance!! By setting the BYOB corkage at $8.50 ($5 if it’s BC) we’ll surely see a massive collapse of the restaurant industry in Victoria! Soon all the leases, gear and guests will be OURS!!!!!!

  8. artfulwench

    Wow Johnny Jiggatron, you are a class act!
    Guess Cabin 12 will now be getting ALL of our business so we don’t mistakenly spend money at your establishment. Good job on alienating customers with trashtalk. Ever considered going into politics as a career change? :)

  9. cqwww Post author

    I really don’t want to start moderating this site, so please try to keep the name calling and sarcasm to a [non-existent]. Clearly we’re all opinionated on the issue, let’s try to keep our messages positive and productive while getting our point across.
    Any other establishments with corkage fees I should add to the table above?

  10. Will

    I think everyone is overreacting.

    1. I can barely remember to bring re-usable bags to the grocery store when I go shopping. Do not expect me to remember to bring wine to the restaurant.

    2. Unless you have a cellar full of awesome-exhibitionist-wine that needs drinking you will have to go to the store before you go out for dinner.

    3. As an average consumer I’m going to feel even more ripped-off than normal when someone charges me for something I’ve already bought.

    4. Bonus – who wants to look like a douche bringing some fancy my-wine-is-better-than-yours to their favorite restaurant?

  11. The mick

    Nothing has really changed, it’s just now legal. I’m stoked that the government has at least left it to the discretion of the restaurant to set their fee making it possible to have a “[EDIT: ****]” price. Those who choose to cater to the %90 of Victorians who want to cheap out and are apaulled that a restaurantuer or chef has the ordasty to want to make money in this town can set it as low as possible. Like most things it will be a [EDIT: ****] for a few months and then will not matter. Enjoy the glut of $5.00 bottle of wine drinkers coming into your place, ordering the cheapest thing on the menu and sitting there for 3 hours going out for 20 smokes. The people who really want to drink that $300 bottle at your spot with a nice meal for that special event have been, for years.

  12. Sharon Needles

    If anyone would like to talk to Johnny Jiggatron in person about his feelings towards this issue and other restaurants in Victoria, you can find him [INTOXICANT.CA EDIT: We’re not interesting in outing our commenters who’ve chosen to use a pseudonym]

  13. cqwww Post author

    Editor note: If you don’t see your comment here, I’ve had to start moderating a couple comments in this thread. Please make sure you’re contributing something to the discussion if you comment. Simple name calling/hostility/threats with nothing productive will be rejected, as well as comments that are illegible because of spelling or grammar issues.

  14. Ilw

    I have my wine made and it turns out to be about $4 a bottle and it’s yummy! There’s no way I’d pay that much just to open it at a restaurant. Rip! In general, I hate getting wine at restaurants because it’s marked up so much. I have a whole bottle of mine for about half the price of what they charge for a glass.

  15. Weewanna Eat Out

    Message to restaurant owners: We would go dining out much, much more frequently if you had corkage fees of $10. We would probably order a more expensive meal.

    We know our wines, and we know that it is not unusual to pay $45 for a bottle of crappy or so-so wine in a restaurant, knowing that it cost $18 in the store; we know the mark-up in a restaurant is usually of around x2 or x2.5 per bottle.

    Please let us bring our own $30 bottle of wine, and we promise we will eat the more expensive meal, have an appetizer, have desert, and have coffee. Meanwhile, we simple will not eat out as much or at all.

  16. Weewanna Eat Out

    Further info on corkage:

    Cafe Brio = $20
    The Masthead (Cowichan) = $19

    Both great restaurants; both charging a bit too much for corkage. If it were $10, we would go twice a month to both. As it is, maybe once to each–every two months.

  17. Will

    I’ve just returned from Scotland, depressing to come back to Vic, see corkage is now legal – and it’s so highly priced! I ate in a great little steak house in Edinburgh called the Buffalo Grill – corkage was a whopping 2 pounds 50 (i.e. around $5 CA)

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