A small group of Quebec wine and cider producers is trying to topple the Canadian province's alcohol monopoly via an obscure 19th century law.

The Association des Producteurs de Boissons Alcoolisées du Québec and some private supermarket owners have invoked an 1864 temperance law, petitioning municipalities to call local referendums on whether the monopolistic Societé des Alcools du Québec (SAQ) should sell alcohol in their areas.

An SAQ spokesperson said the artisan producers' petitions, which target only SAQ's as opposed to the original version's aim of prohibiting alcohol sales altogether, could be challenged in court.

Jean-François Joanette co-owner of a Montreal Metro supermarket said: "People need to know that the SAQ shouldn't get away with dictating what they are allowed to buy."