Food In Canada

Ontario announces plan for domestic grape, wine industry

By Food in Canada staff   

Business Operations

Ontario’s Ministry of Consumer Services has announced a plan that it says will help the domestic grape and wine industry.

The announcement was posted on its website on Oct. 13.

Cellared in Canada wines controversy

The wine industry in both Ontario and B.C. has been the source of controversy over the last few weeks, reports the blog, The Wine Case.

The controversy surrounds the issue of Cellared in Canada (CIC) wines. Cheaper foreign grapes make up 70 per cent of the content in these wines, yet they are often sold as “Canadian.”

Other issues with CIC policies and wines, reports the Niagara Grapevine Uncorked, include content disclosure, labelling, LCBO shelving practices, the establishment of VQA-only stores and CIC production entitlements.

The Uncorked article went on to explain that it was a NAFTA agreement that “enabled wineries licensed before 1993…to gain certain marketing privileges. Only those wineries can produce CIC wines or sell their wines (VQA, CIC, non-VQA, fruit) through Ontario wine shops. That leaves more than a hundred Ontario wineries at a marked market disadvantage. The use of imported wines and grape juices in CIC wines also negatively impacts Ontario grape growers and the international image of Ontario VQA wines.”

B.C. to help consumers identify wines

In B.C., reports the Winnipeg Sun, the province’s agriculture minister announced earlier in October that wines made with foreign grapes will be moved out of the B.C. products section in government-run liquor stores.

“New selling regulations for the stores are an attempt to ensure customers know which wines are produced using only B.C.-grown grapes and which involve foreign content,” the article said.

Ontario’s plan

In Ontario, the Ministry of Consumer Services has a plan that it says will build on the success of the industry and give grape growers time to transition.

One parts of its plan will require a short-term increase in wineries’ overall CIC content from 30 per cent to 40 per cent Ontario grapes.

The plan also includes:

• Renewing the successful VQA wine support program to promote sales of VQA wines through LCBO stores across the province.
• Increasing consumer access to VQA wines at the LCBO.
• Renewing the marketing program for Ontario VQA wines.
• Ensuring clearer labelling and signage for all Ontario wines.
• Increasing the levy on blended wines sold in wine retail stores to finance supports for Ontario’s growing VQA sector.
• Asking the Ontario Farm Products Marketing Commission to examine how grape pricing and marketing can be improved.
• Providing support to grape farmers that will encourage growth of VQA-quality grapes and support a new grape varietal plan between now and 2014.
• Putting greater emphasis on VQA wines by introducing legislation to eliminate the domestic content requirement for blended wines in the Wine Content and Labelling Act, 2000 by 2014.

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