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Cowichan’s Merridale Cidery closed for one week for selling alcohol to minor

Merridale Cidery and Distillery announced that the business would be closed March 6 through 12

A popular Cowichan Valley cidery has been ordered to close for seven days after being found guilty of selling a bottle of cider to a minor.

Following a Feb. 20 decision by the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, Merridale Cidery and Distillery announced on March 5 that the business would be closed March 6 through 12 due to the licence suspension.

“It is with a deep sense of regret that we share the news of our temporary closure,” Merridale said March 5 on social media. “A misstep occurred when one of our team members mistakenly sold a bottle of cider to a minor involved in a randomly selected liquor board undercover operation. Despite our sincere plea for leniency, marking our first infringement since we opened our doors in 1990, we are graciously accepting the consequences and a week of closure assigned to right this wrong.”

The cidery thanked patrons for their support and understanding.

“As much as we regret this unfortunate moment, we are all human and understand that mistakes happen. We will take this opportunity to learn and grow, and will use this as a teaching opportunity for our staff to follow a better path moving forward,” said the social media message. “During this brief closure, we will be working on various aspects of our operations, including painting, cleaning, training, revising procedures, and installing new equipment.”

According to the decision made by the R. John Rogers of the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch, the infraction occurred on Wednesday, July 19, 2023 when agents with the Minors As Agents program were carrying out compliance inspections at various licensed establishments within the regional district. The program utilizes agents aged 16-18 in an attempt to buy alcohol.

The employee in question made the transaction for a one-litre, $16.20 bottle of Mo’Moro cider with an alcohol by volume content of six per cent with the minor agent without asking for ID.

In a letter submitted to the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch by that same employee, “she acknowledges that at the time of the contravention she was not in a’great headspace’ and had made a mistake.”

The cidery’s floor manager also noted the employee arrived at work right after having dealt with family issues in her personal life and was not at her best.

The employee has since resigned from her job at the cidery as a result of the incident.

The penalty for a first contravention ranges from a seven- to 11-day licence suspension and/or a fine of $7,000 to $11,000.

Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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