Building on a Strong Foundation

Release Date: 
Friday, March 30, 2012

Good government policy supports growth of Ontario wine

ST. CATHARINES, Ont. — Ontario’s grape and wine industry has been building a solid foundation for a robust, strong future under a government policy that supports and promotes this important industry, says the Grape Growers of Ontario.

The Ontario government plan to Strengthen the Ontario Grape and Wine Industry has enhanced promotion for VQA wines, increased consumer access to VQA wines at the LCBO, improved signage and labeling for all Ontario wines and established a minimum domestic grape requirement at 40% of winery purchases and 25% in the bottle — but that minimum standard is set to expire in 2014.

“When the provincial government introduced new policy and regulations for the Ontario grape and wine industry in 2009, it also introduced more stability to an important economic driver in the province,” says Debbie Zimmerman, Chief Executive Officer of the Grape Growers of Ontario. “Good government policy works, and is welcome in times of austerity when it has minimal impact on the bottom line. The government’s policy directive is a self-supporting initiative that has made Ontario’s grape and wine industry stronger.”

At a recent conference, Thomas Homer-Dixon from the Balsillie School of International Affairs noted that the Ontario grape and wine industry contributes $10,000 to the provincial economy for every tonne of grapes grown and sold. In comparison, a tonne of oil produced from the oil sands contributes only $700 to the Canadian economy.

“We live in an Ontario where imported wines still dominate our market, commanding three-quarters of the market share in the LCBO, yet each litre of imported wine contributes less than a loonie of added value to the economy,” says Bill George, Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario. “We need the province to maintain its content regulations in Ontario wines until we have realized sufficient growth in VQA wines to sustain the industry.”

Simply put, there has been solid growth in the Ontario grape and wine industry and the changes of 2009 have given it a strong foundation, but content regulation needs to be maintained to allow the industry to continue to be a significant contributor to the Ontario economy.

“We can see that this good government policy is working,” says Zimmerman. “We need more time to fully realize its benefits.”

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About the Grape Growers of Ontario:

The Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization representing more than 500 grape growers in one of the cool climate viticulture areas in the world — an area that includes the Niagara Region, Prince Edward County, Pelee Island, Lake Erie North Shore and the emerging Norfolk County. About 90% of the grapes grown in Ontario are used for commercial winemaking, with the remaining 10% used for juice, jams, other grape products and home winemaking.

Quick Facts: Ontario Grape Purchases
2010

Grapes Purchased - 53,747 tonnes
Farm Gate Value - $69.4 million

2011
Grapes Purchased - 64,495 tonnes
Farm Gate Value - $78.7 million

It is estimated that every litre of Ontario VQA wine sold generates $12.29 of economic activity while a litre of imported wine contributes less than a loonie to the economy.

Since 2009, VQA sales have increased in the LCBO by 1.2 million litres, the equivalent of 1,800 tonnes of grapes. A grape over-supply has been reduced by 95% since 2009.

For more information, please call:

Debbie Zimmerman, CEO
905 401-2471

Bill George, Chair
905 984-0994