Wine Rack turns stores near parks into picnic sites

The retailer is giving out blankets and full-sized samples of Bask to those who may lament not having a drink in the park.

Wine Rack Blanket

Arterra’s retail arm Wine Rack is leaning into its neighbourhood positioning by transforming four Toronto park-adjacent locations into ad hoc picnic sites.

From Canada Day to July 3, Wine Rack is inviting locals to stop by select locations on their way to four of the city’s most popular parks: Trinity Bellwoods, Christie Pitts, Beaches and High Park.

At its retail locations, Wine Rack is sampling Arterra’s better-for-you wine brand Bask, with full-sized canned samples or a glass of wine in addition to free picnic blankets to the first 50 customers who purchase one bottle of Bask wine in-store, while quantities last.

David Patton, head of marketing for Wine Rack, says that the Canada Day sampling event is not about breaking the law, as Toronto City Council has not allowed open containers of alcohol in city-owned public spaces. Rather, since many of its customers frequently go to parks, the store is instead going to be a “refuge” where people can legally enjoy some wine before or after their trip to park (or even an escape in the middle).


Patton tells strategy that Wine Rack is trying to be the local, neighbourhood wine spot. He admits that it will never be the LCBO, but at Wine Rack, you get more of a hands-on treatment and that it is a super convenient, close to a home site experience that’s different from a big box.

He says another competitive advantage is that, frequently, there are members of the local community working there, who know the customer, and can answer questions in an environment that’s often absent of the long lines frequently seen around long weekends at Ontario’s liquor retailer.


Bask was chosen, as its zero sugar better-for-you positioning is one that resonates with consumers as a “have your cake and eat it too” product.

Wine Rack is using email lists, boots on the ground, web and social content, to get the word out about the event. The retailer has run events around occasions like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but now it really wants to lean into its neighbourhood position with this “more aggressive” move.

“There’s a lot of appetite to think of Arterra from a retail-first strategy,” Patton insists and how the brands and retail can work more tightly together.

Last summer, it tried to connect neighbourhoods with wine country and brands like Jackson Triggs. It had a partnership with Metrolinx to get on a bus and have a curated wine experience at a vineyard.

New PR agency Media Profile helped out with the event.