Success of Government Grape Wine Strategy Hailed as Grape Growers Look to the Future

Release Date: 
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ontario’s Grape Growers Call on Government to Keep Moving Forward Together

As the Grape Growers of Ontario celebrate their 65th anniversary, their CEO Debbie Zimmerman used the kick-off of this year’s Grape and Wine Festival to acknowledge the importance of another anniversary they say has been integral to the industry’s recent success.

“Next month will mark the third anniversary of the implementation of Ontario’s Grape and Wine Strategy,” Zimmerman noted.  “The success of this policy has fuelled our industry’s success.”

A key component of the Strategy introduced by then Consumer Minister Ted McMeekin was an increase in wineries’ overall Cellared in Canada content to 40 per cent Ontario grapes, together with a 25 per cent per bottle minimum (down from 30 per cent).

“This year has been a banner year for Ontario’s grape and wine industry, but it hasn’t always been this way.  Three years ago, Ontario farmers were faced with no market for their grapes and dropped over 6,500 tonnes on the ground. The actions of Minister McMeekin and the McGuinty government have helped turn our industry around, but the job is not done,” Zimmerman said.

As those policies reach their time for review Zimmerman looked positively to the future.  “Our message to the government is clear: we can’t turn the clocks back, we need to continue moving forward together.  The continuation of the minimum content standard will allow us to build on recent gains and create even more jobs in rural communities across the province.”


Backgrounder attached

Debbie Zimmerman, CEO
Grape Growers of Ontario, 905-401-2471


The Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization representing 500 grape growers in one of the cool climate viticulture areas in the world — an area that includes the Niagara Region, Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore and the emerging Norfolk County.

  • Average Brix (a measure of sugar content) in grapes produced, exceed VQA standards by over 18% over the last three years
  • Wine grape purchases have increased from 44,356 tonnes in 2009 to 62,028 tonnes in 2012
  • VQA table wine sales have increased by 27% by volume at the LCBO, Winery Retail Stores & Direct Delivery since 2009, however sales of imported table wine have also increased 27% by volume
  • Balance has returned to the industry with surplus grapes reduced by 95%
  • Imported bulk wine, used for blending, has increased from 16  million litres in 2009 to 25 million litres in 2011