Emergency Action Taken To Mitigate Severe Grape Crop Shortage

Archived Release

Emergency Action Taken To Mitigate Severe Grape Crop Shortage

Ministry of Consumer Services

Temporary Steps Will Help Avert Estimated $100-Million Loss to Industry And Protect Consumers QUEEN'S PARK, Sept. 23 - Industry and government officials today announced a number of time-limited emergency actions that will help avert an estimated $100-million loss due to this year's severe grape crop shortage. The harsh winter of 2004-05 devastated Ontario grape vineyards, and production this fall is expected to be less than half of last year - down from 46,000 metric tonnes in 2004 to less than 20,000 metric tonnes this year. "The grape-growing and wine-making industries are vital parts of the Ontario economy," said Government Services Minister Gerry Phillips. "These steps will help mitigate the economic impact of the grape shortage as well as provide consumers with better information when buying Ontario wines." The key steps agreed to in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Wine Council of Ontario, the Grape Growers of Ontario, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) and the Government of Ontario include: - Ensure current Vintners' Quality Alliance (VQA) high quality-assurance standards remain unchanged and include 100 per cent Ontario grape content; - To ensure sufficient grapes for VQA wine, for this year only cellared-in Ontario wines would be allowed to contain less domestic grape product than in normal years (one per cent this year versus 30 per cent normally); - LCBO marketing to clearly distinguish for consumers "short crop" wines from 100 per cent Ontario (VQA) and other Ontario-made wines; - Temporarily allow wineries that came into existence after 1993 to use imported grapes for the 2005 grape crop only; - Commitment by all parties to provide more information to consumers regarding the Ontario grape content in wines; - Phase in a new category of wine requiring 85 per cent Ontario grape content to qualify as an "Ontario" wine by 2010. "These actions will help ensure there are enough Ontario grapes to continue producing our premium VQA wines," said Norm Beal, Chair of the Wine Council of Ontario. "This is particularly significant since we anticipate that the unusually warm summer will create one of our best vintages ever." "The plan ensures as many Ontario grapes as possible go into our premium VQA wines. It also achieves two years of stable pricing for our growers," said Ray Duc, Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario. "We welcome the opportunity to work with our industry partners and the Ontario government to build long-term strategies for growth in the Ontario grape and wine industry." The objective of these measures is to cushion the impact of the short domestic supply with the increased use of import grape products in blended wines so that the presence of 100 per cent Ontario wines in the marketplace, winery revenues and winery employment is maintained. Without action, the grape crop shortage would have a disastrous effect on a number of small wineries that began business after 1993 and are normally required to use 100 per cent Ontario grapes. Easing the Ontario grape content requirements for the 2005 crop allows wineries to dedicate the reduced Ontario grape crop to making premium VQA domestic wine containing 100 per cent Ontario grape content. Similar actions to support the grape-growing and winemaking industries following disastrous winters have been taken on two previous occasions - in 2003 and 1993. The regulatory change on the content of blended wine still requires approval from the Lieutenant-Governor-in-Council. "This government supports the development of the Ontario grape-based wine industry," said Phillips. "In last year's budget we committed an additional $10 million to the industry." Disponible en fran├žais www.mgs.gov.on.caFor further information: Ciaran Ganley, Minister's Office, (416) 212-3547; Jason Okamura, Ministry of Government Services, (416) 326-8538