Ont. supporting fruit wine, cider in farmers’ markets
October 7, 2016, Guelph, Ont – Ontario is making it easier for craft cider and fruit wine producers to grow their businesses by supporting retail sales at farmers’ markets across the province.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Jeff Leal made the announcement recently at the Empire Cider Company in Codrington. The initiative has allowed Empire to double its retail sales since the company began selling at Northumberland County farmers’ markets earlier this year, and the cider producer plans to continue expanding sales at additional markets in 2017.
“Since this summer, we have been bringing our traditional cider – made with high quality local ingredients – to consumers at farmers’ markets,” said Jenny and Chris McRae, owners of Empire Cider Co. “This has been a great opportunity for our cidery to expose our unique product made at home, so a greater audience can taste and enjoy it.”
According to a government release, opening farmers’ markets to fruit wine and cider sales has provided more opportunities for Ontarians to purchase and enjoy locally-crafted products and has helped grow the local economy in communities across Ontario.
“This market season, Ontario craft cider producers are thrilled to be able to bring their excellent ciders to farmer’s markets across Ontario for retail sale,” said Thomas Wilson, chair of the Ontario Craft Cider Association. “Consumers will now have the option to not only meet and shop from Ontario farmers but also purchase quality ciders and fruit wines from these growers at their local farmers market. The Ontario Craft Cider Association would like to thank the Ontario government for giving consumers more choice in the products they can discover and enjoy.”
“We were thrilled that Ontario fruit wines and ciders were included at Farmers’ Markets this year,” added Wendy Hogarth, owner of Muskoka Lakes Winery. “It allowed Ontario consumers to sample and buy wines made close to home from locally grown fruit. Our Muskoka-grown cranberry and blueberry wines were a terrific hit and we’re thankful for the government’s support of this initiative.”
The Ontario government reported it is expanding access responsibly and plans to continue ensuring alcohol sales are conducted in a socially responsible manner. The province is also currently developing a comprehensive alcohol policy to support the safe consumption of alcohol.
There are now approximately 60 businesses that produce cider and fruit wine in Ontario. To date, 250 farmers’ markets and 99 wineries, including 14 fruit wineries, have participated in the Wine and Cider at Farmers’ Markets program, with sales of $3.7 million.
VQA wine sales in Ontario have grown from $194 million in 2009-10 to $318 million in 2015-16, an increase of more than 60 per cent.
Currently 60 grocery stores across the province are authorized to sell beer and cider. Beginning October 28, 2016, up to 70 more grocery stores will be authorized to sell wine, beer and cider.