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Ontario cutting red tape to support growth in the wine industry

Changes will provide small wineries easier entry into the wine market and offer consumers more choice

August 13, 2019  By Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs

Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Lisa Thompson, was joined by representatives from the Ontario wine industry to announce changes reducing regulatory burden to support growth in the industry.

Changes have been made to the rules under the Vintners Quality Alliance Act that reduces red tape and provides more flexibility to wineries across the province and expands wine choices for consumers. One of these changes includes adding the Marquette hybrid grape variety to the list of permitted grape varieties to be eligible for Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario approval.

“The addition of the Marquette hybrid grape variety will help small and new wineries experience easier entry into Ontario’s VQA wine market,” said Minister Thompson. “It particularly supports wineries located in emerging regions where cold winter temperatures are a challenge for traditional grape varieties, like Huron-Bruce.”


Ontario wineries can also produce wines using grapes from different vintages, or harvest years, as it is now optional for them to label wines with the harvest year with the Ontario geographical indicator. This will increase the choice of table wines available to consumers.

“Our government is making Ontario Open for Business by removing obstacles in investment, growth and job creation sectors right across the economy – including the wine and grape industry,” said Minister Thompson. “We’re working hard every day to modernize government and make it simpler, faster and better to do business in Ontario. We’re working to put Ontario back on track as the economic engine of Canada.”

Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Ontario is an independent, industry-led and not-for-profit corporation responsible for setting and enforcing standards for the manufacture and labelling of VQA wine.

VQA wine is made from 100 per cent Ontario grapes and meets quality and labelling standards set out in the Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999. Wineries must be a member of VQA Ontario to use the terms, descriptions and designations of VQA, receive authorization and meet the standards for certification and labelling.

There are 175 wineries that are members of VQA Ontario out of 271 licenced wineries in the province. The government has provided wineries, cideries, breweries and distillers with more regulatory flexibility to promote their products at their manufacturing sites by removing the prescribed serving sizes for “by the glass” licences.

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