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Ontario's Wine Strategy

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Ontario's Wine Strategy

Ministry of Consumer Services

Ontario's 2009 wine strategy is designed to enhance the growth of Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines for long-term sustainability.



Three key elements are announced today:

  • VQA wine support
  • Marketing and tourism support
  • Grape sector support.

Ontario's Wine and Grape Industry: Overview

Key Facts:
  • Ontario has 146 grape wineries and approximately 30 fruit and other types of wineries.
  • There are over 13 million grape vines on 17,000 acres in southern Ontario.
  • Approximately one million tourists visit Ontario wineries each year.
  • For the year ending March 31, 2009, total domestic wine sales in Ontario (blended and VQA) reached a high of 55 million litres, valued at $533 million.
  • As of March 2009, VQA wine sales reached 11.4 million litres, up 12 per cent from the year before, and wine sales were valued at $173 million.
  • Over the past 10 years, Ontario's focus on VQA wines, which are made from 100 per cent Ontario grapes, has increased the number of jobs in the wine and grape sector and generated significant economic activity for our province.

VQA Wine Support Program

Key Facts:

Ontario's VQA Wine Support Program was first established in 2006.

The program was developed to encourage the sale of VQA table wines containing 100 per cent Ontario grapes through the LCBO.

The program provided 63 wineries with grant payments totalling more than $13 million over three years, 2007 to 2009. As a result, LCBO sales of VQA table wines were up 11.8 per cent in 2007-2008 and 17 per cent in 2008-09 over the previous year.

Ontario's new VQA Wine Support Program will be administered by Ontario's Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and build on the success of the original program.

The new VQA Wine Support Program will provide $6 million per year for five years, 2010 to 2014.

The new program will provide wineries with an annual grant based on the sales value of VQA table wines sold at the LCBO. Wineries will be required to submit an application each year to be eligible for program funding.

Marketing and Tourism Support

Key Facts:

In 2004, the Ontario Budget provided funding for the Ontario Wine Strategy in the amount of $2 million per year for five years for marketing and tourism activities to support the industry's strategic plan to grow its share of the Ontario wine market to 50 percent.

The Ontario Wine Strategy has been successful with an increase in VQA wine sales reaching a high of $173 million in 2009. About 7,000 jobs are linked to the province's wine and grape industry and VQA wines are increasingly popular in Ontario and abroad.

In November and December 2009, Ontario consulted with the wine and grape industry on the success and long-term sustainability of Ontario's VQA wines. The industry agreed that a renewed strategy was needed to fund marketing and tourism development activities. It also agreed funding should increase to $3 million per year to allow the industry to promote Ontario's wine industry.

As a result, the Ontario Wine Strategy will invest $3 million per year for five years, 2010 to 2014.

This investment will be used for:

  • Marketing activities - including advertising, promotions at the LCBO, awards programs and public relations.
  • Tourism development activities - including the development of enhanced wine route maps and signage, promotion of premier industry events such as Cuvée and the Niagara Wine Festival.

The Wine Council of Ontario will manage the Ontario Wine Strategy investments and work with industry stakeholders, including the Grape Growers of Ontario, Winery and Growers Alliance of Ontario and VQA Ontario to develop an annual marketing plan and report back to the Government of Ontario on investments and activities.

Ontario is proud of the international recognition our VQA wines enjoy. We are committed to helping the province's wine and grape industry build on its successes and evolve into a more competitive sector in the future while reducing unnecessary and cumbersome barriers to innovation and growth.

Grape Sector Support

Starting in 2011, Ontario will also provide $3 million per year to help grape growers transition to the new focus on VQA wines. Transition supports will be provided in alignment with a new varietal plan being developed by the industry.

Viewpoints on Ontario's Plan for the Wine and Grape Industry

"With this announcement, a significant number of Greenbelt farmers and their municipal leaders can now focus more of their energy on how to tap into that massive market and grow jobs as well as grapes. Which is a much, much more exciting thing to think about."

Seaton McLean Closson Chase Vineyards and Chair of the Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association
As quoted in The Hamilton Spectator, October 19, 2009


"By drinking Ontario wine, you're preventing the greenbelt from being paved over and you're kicking back at rampant urban sprawl."

Rick Smith
Executive Director, Environmental Defence
As quoted in the The Globe and Mail, April 17, 2010


"The history of blending foreign juice with Canadian wine is long and complicated. In the 1980s, when the Canadian industry was in its infancy, the government granted wineries permission to use foreign wine while labrusca vines were being pulled up and replaced with vinifera in local vineyards. The practice of blending continued over the years for a variety of reasons, including occasional shortages in grape supply due to bad weather. But the Canadian landscape has changed in recent years. There is a healthy supply of domestic grapes and consumers are embracing locally-made wines as never before."

Konrad Ejbich
Wine, food and travel writer/broadcaster and wine commentator for CBC Radio's "Ontario Today" show
As published on WineSpectator.com, August 28, 2009

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