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What is VQA?

Vintners Quality Alliance is an appellation of origin system similar to France’s Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and Italy’s Denominazione d’Origine Controlata. In Ontario, VQA was launched in 1988 as a voluntary system of designating quality standards in winemaking. A provincial bill establishing the VQA Act was passed into law in the Ontario legislature on May 4, 1999.

VQA Ontario serves as the wine authority to monitor and administer the Act’s rules and regulations that affect all areas of quality control in the production of fine wines made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes. Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario (VQA Ontario) is an independent regulatory organization that administers the VQA Act and its regulations through an agreement with the Ontario government.

Participation in the VQA system is voluntary but only those wines approved by VQA Ontario may bear labels with regulated terms and descriptions. These include geographical terms such as the designated Viticultural Areas (DVA) "Niagara Peninsula," "Lake Erie North Shore," "Prince Edward County" more specific terms like "Estate Bottled" and terms that are linked to regulated production processes such as "Icewine."

For more information visit www.vqaontario.com

To designate Ontario as its origin, a wine must:

  • be made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes of approved varieties
  • meet minimum sugar levels for grapes at harvest as set for each grape variety
  • be made from a minimum of 85% of grapes grown in a single vintage and indicate the vintage year on the label


To be labelled as a designated Viticulture Area (VA), a wine must:

  • be made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes
  • be made only from approved Vitis vinifera varieties
  • be made from at least 85% of grapes grown in the named area
  • meet minimum sugar levels at harvest as set for each grape variety
  • be made from a minimum of 85% of grapes grown in a single vintage and indicate the vintage year on the label

Only wines that carry a viticultural area designation may carry the additional designation of estate bottled or the name of the specific vineyard where the grapes were grown. For a vineyard designation, 100% of the grapes must come from a single vineyard. For an estate-bottled designation, the wine must be entirely grown, made and bottled on a single estate.