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Tuesday, Jul. 06, 2010

B.C. wineries trim prices after tax rate falls

In the U.S., the abbreviation HST might hit home with fans of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

In Canada, HST now stands for Harmonized Sales Tax.

On June 30, the tax rate for British Columbia wines was 10 percent for Provincial Sales Tax (PST) and 5 percent for Goods and Services Tax (GST) -- a total of 15 percent.

On July 1, the adoption of the HST produced a price increase for some items, such as snack food and restaurant meals, cable TV service, residential phone service, but not what the government refers to as "basic groceries."

However, the HST also means a lower sales tax on alcohol — especially B.C. wines. The result is that the combined tax for B.C. wines dropped to 12 percent if the bottle was bought in the tasting room or via the winery website.

Several B.C. wineries have announced they are trimming their prices, among those wineries is Pentage Winery in Penticton.

"With the HST now in effect, it has lowered the sales tax on alcohol by 3%," Pentage co-owner Julie Rennie wrote to customers. "We are happy to announce we are passing along this savings to our loyal customers.  In some cases we have lowered the price a little more than the 3% to round out the numbers for convenience. Why you may ask — because we can and we’d like to! Our website has been updated with the new prices.  To order our wines please visit www.pentage.com."

Those prices include the 2009 Slow Vineyards Ice Wine, which earned an "Outstanding" rating in Wine Press Northwest's peer-judging of ice wine, finishing third overall. Those results appear in our Summer 2010 issue and also are accessible online.

Pentage also received golds this spring at the Northwest Wine Summit for its 2009 rosé, 2008 Pinot Gris and that 2009 ice wine.