Our 2023 Annual Report Is Now Available
Grape Growers of Ontario represent farm families producing processing grapes on over 18,000 acres of vineyards in Ontario, Canada.
Previous annual reports
Click HERE to view the June 2023 newsletter which includes important industry updates on the following initiatives, and more!
- Bill 97 and the proposed Provincial Planning Statement
- Wine Sector Support Program
- 2023 Sustainability Certification
- Spotted Lanterfly signage and online training
- Wine Sales Update
- Research Spotlight
- Upcoming Events
- Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Tailgate Party - June 17th
- i4c July 20-23rd
- Finding Fairness in Farm Transition Workshop with Elaine Froese - August 14th
- Annual General Meeting - Wed. April 5, 2023
- 2023 Sustainability Certification
- Underused Housing Tax
- Update for SAWP and TFWP Employers
- Ontario Wine Appellation Authority March News & Updates
- Upcoming Webinars and Events
- Wine Sales Update
Tuesday, April 19, 2022
Long-standing commitment to produce high-quality, Ontario-grown grapes remains key for Canada's award-winning wine industry
ST. CATHARINES, ON, April 19, 2022 /CNW/ - Ontario grape growers have been perfecting the art of grape growing and bringing a range of benefits to local, provincial and national economies for 75 years. After more than two unpredictably difficult years, with ongoing challenges looming, this pivotal milestone is especially meaningful for the 500 grape growing families throughout the year.
Established in 1947, with one viticulture region, Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) has developed deep roots in Ontario's economy and communities now spanning three main Designated Viticulture Areas – the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, and Prince Edward County – as well as emerging regions such as Norfolk and Huron Counties. Ontario's grape growing families are the backbone for the agricultural economy across the province and the uniqueness of the grape growing industry cannot be underestimated.
"Grape Growers of Ontario has a long history of working with our growers, industry partners and government to overcome adversity, paving the way for a thriving grape and wine industry that has contributed over $4.4 billion annually toward our local economy." – Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair
"Grape Growers of Ontario was established to promote sustainable growth by remaining rooted in its commitment to our grape growing families and our industry partners. We look forward to highlighting the industry' accomplishments throughout the year as part of our 75th celebrations" – Debbie Zimmerman, CEO.
"Ontario's grape and wine industry is a Canadian success story, thanks in large part to the leadership of Grape Growers of Ontario. With hard work, cutting-edge innovation and care for the environment, Ontario growers and wineries have transformed the industry into a world-renowned wine region and economic powerhouse for Ontario and Canada. The Government of Canada has a proud history of partnership with Ontario's grape and wine sector and we will continue to work with GGO to drive a competitive and sustainable industry for the future.– The Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
"Ontario's vineyards are a source of pride for Ontario's economy and are known worldwide for their high-quality products. Grape Growers of Ontario's 75th anniversary is a shining legacy, built on quality, determination and resilience."– The Honourable Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Throughout the year, GGO will spotlight our dynamic and vibrant grape growing industry with its founding characters and their stories, while promoting the third and fourth generation young growers who are investing in the future of this bright industry. We encourage everyone to stay tuned to our social media channels for contests, stories and other ways to help us celebrate this important milestone.
About the Grape Growers of Ontario
Established in 1947, the Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization that represents over 500 actively producing grape growers of 18,000 acres of vineyards in the province's three designated viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County, and emerging regions.
SOURCE Grape Growers of Ontario
For further information: Debbie Zimmerman, CEO, Grape Growers of Ontario at (905) 401-2471.
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Tuesday, April 26, 2022
April 26, 2022 (St. Catharines): Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario, is pleased to announce the organization's 2022/23 Board of Directors, including the re-election of Chair Matthias Oppenlaender. Kevin Watson, Niagara-on-the-Lake grape grower and long-time Board Director, was elected Vice Chair.
The Board and all grape growers thank Bill Schenck who stepped down as the representative from St. Catharines on the Growers' Committee and the Board of Directors for the last thirteen years, including the last six as Vice Chair. Bill has been a respected and extremely active member of the organization, participating on many Committees, including Chair of the Governance Committee and the Irrigation Committee, and Vice Chair of the Canadian Grapevine Certification Committee.
Matthias with his wife Monica and their five children, live in Niagara-on-the-Lake where they farm over 800 acres of certified sustainable vineyards. Matthias was elected Grape King by his fellow grape growers in 2006, and the following year was elected to the Grape Growers of Ontario’s Growers’ Committee and to the Board of Directors. In 2009 Matthias was elected Vice Chair of the Board, a position he held until first being elected Chair in 2016. In addition to the GGO Board of Directors, Matthias is the Chair of Ontario Grape and Wine Research Inc. (OGWRI), a for-profit joint Board of growers and processors established in 2007 to determine, guide and fund the research priorities of Ontario’s grape and wine industry. He is also the Treasurer of the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN). CGCN a national not-for-profit corporation established by provincial industry associations from Ontario, BC, Nova Scotia and Quebec to advance the Canadian grape and wine industry with a sustainable supply of certified propagative grapevine material.
Kevin Watson and his family have been involved in Ontario's grape and wine industry since 1978, farming approx. 100 acres of certified sustainable vineyards. Kevin was first elected to the Growers' Committee in 1999 until 2003, including one year as a Director (2002-03). In 2007 Kevin was named Grape King, and was re-elected to the Growers' Committee and the Board of Directors the following year, a position he has held until being elected Vice Chair in 2022. Kevin is the GGO representative on both the F.A.R.M.S and Ontario Wine Appellation Authority (VQA) Board of Directors, and is active on the GGO's Advisory and Metrics Committees. In addition to the vineyard, Kevin, his wife Cathy and their two children also operate an onsite home winemaking and barrel business, Watson's Barrels & Winemaking Supplies.
The Board of Directors includes representation from across Ontario including Steve Pohorly and Erwin Wiens of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Jim Morrison and Doug Funk Jr. of Lincoln, Brock Puddicombe of Winona, Robert Peck of Prince Edward County, Murray Wilson of Harrow and newly elected Joe Schenck of St. Catharines. Joe is an experienced grape grower, and is currently building a winery in Vineland called King and Victoria. He is involved in the community, having sat on the Executive Board of both the Jordan Lions Minor Hockey and Niagara North AAA Hockey Association.
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For information contact:
Debbie Zimmerman, CEO
Thursday, April 28, 2022
Ontario’s Grape and Wine Industry Thanks the Ontario Government for Extending the VQA Wine Support Program and Renewing the COVID Recovery Funding
NIAGARA, ON, April 28, 2022 - Today the Government of Ontario committed to expanding funding for the VQA Support Program, extending the program through 2024/25, renewing the $10M COVID Recovery Fund for wine and cider and to continue working with our industry to ensure our long-term success.
“Our winery members are grateful to the Ontario government for today’s budget announcement”, said Carolyn Hurst, Chair of Ontario Craft Wineries. “Renewing the COVID Recovery Fund for another year will provide much needed help and relief to Ontario wineries who have been hard hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic.”
The COVID Recovery program will provide $10M this year to Ontario wineries to help them address the challenges posed by COVID. Wineries will be able to use these funds to invest in many activities including promotion, market development and tourism recovery. We look forward to continuing to work towards a focused long-term strategy so that wineries can continue to increase capital investment in local production, expand vineyard plantings, buy more grapes, hire more Ontarians, and expand rural economic development.
“Wine Growers Ontario is thankful that the government has committed to increased funding for the VQA Wine Support Program and ensuring that the program is there for our industry for three more years”, said Del Rollo, Chair of Wine Growers Ontario. “Focused, long-term funding is a huge relief to Ontario wineries.”
Increased funding to Ontario’s VQA Wine Support Program will enable investments in marketing, labour and capital. The multi-year commitment will also help Ontario wineries make multi-year plans for investment in promotion and marketing at the LCBO, a key partner in the future health of our industry.
“Our Made in Ontario, locally grown and produced grape and wine industry is rooted in the land and we thank Minister Thompson and Minister Bethlenfalvy for recognizing the importance of Ontario grape growers and their vineyards as the foundation of the domestic value-chain”, said Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair, Grape Growers of Ontario. “We welcome the additional stability and certainty for our sector that will come from today’s budget, which supports our wineries, encourages the purchase of Ontario grapes for our domestically grown wines, and has signaled the right direction for our industry for the long term”.
About Ontario’s Grape and Wine Industry
Ontario’s grape and wine industry supports over 18,000 jobs in the province and welcomes over 2.4 million visitors to wine country every year.
For more information, contact:
Debbie Zimmerman, CEO Richard Linley, President Aaron Dobbin, President & CEO
Grape Growers of Ontario Ontario Craft Wineries Wine Growers Ontario
905-688-0990 ext. 225 905-562-8070 ext. 225 905-562-9426
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Grape Growers of Ontario celebrate economic contributions of the domestic grape and wine industry at Ottawa event
“Niagara Day on the Hill” hosts Parliamentarians at a showcase of Niagara region as a world-class tourism destination
Ottawa, ON (May 18, 2022)– Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) alongside Niagara’s Members of Parliament, today welcome Parliamentarians in showcasing Niagara as a world-class tourism destination and the positive impact our domestic grape and wine industry has on the economy. This event is part of GGO’s ongoing 75th anniversary “Rooted in Canada” celebrations that underscores the deep roots grape growers have in the country and the contributions they make to the local, provincial, and national economy.
At “Niagara Day on the Hill” Ontario grape growers and winemakers will have the opportunity to meet with Members of Parliament (MP) from across Canada to highlight the importance of the grape and wine sector for Canada’s economy – the industry welcomes 3.7 million tourists annually and generates $9 billion in economic activity including $1.1 billion in tax revenue and $1.5 billion in tourism-related impact.
In about a month’s time, the excise duty exception on 100% Canadian wine will end. Since its introduction in 2006, it has helped small Canadian wineries grow by encouraging the production of 100% Ontario wine and increasing demand for Ontario-grown grapes. The federal government has committed to assist the Canadian wine sector and their 2021 budget outlines a $101 million two-year Canadian winery support program to support wineries in adapting to ongoing and emerging challenges, in line with Canada’s trade obligations. The details of this program will determine the fate of the domestic grape and wine industry.
“We have enjoyed a long and successful partnership with the Government of Canada that has helped foster a resilient and successful domestic industry, however, without continued government investment, our industry and the economic contributions it brings are at risk.” said Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario. “We have a collective interest, with the government, in the continued growth of the Canadian grape and wine industry. Every bottle of 100% Canadian wine contributes $90 to the economy compared to just $15.73 from a bottle of imported wine.”
“Our fantastic grape and wine makers have become such an important part of Niagara’s landscape over the last several decades. Who can imagine traveling through Niagara without the beauty of our vineyards or without our magnificent wineries dotted throughout the countryside. We are a grape and wine-producing powerhouse in Canada and I will continue to work to ensure Niagara continues to be a leader in the industry. I’m proud to be among those welcoming all of Canada to experience the best of what we have to offer during Niagara Day on the Hill.” – Vance Badawey, M.P. for Niagara Centre
“Niagara is one of the most beautiful regions in the country and we have been blessed with a rich history and geography, making us a destination known throughout the world. A unique and strong element of that identity comes from Niagara being this country’s leading grape and wine region, and my parliamentary colleagues and I are so proud and fortunate to represent it. Our grape and wine sector are key contributors to our local economy, supporting our local farmers and providing jobs, and I look forward to continuing to work with all members of the House of Commons to ensure the success of our region and this most important industry, in the years ahead.” – Tony Baldinelli, M.P. for Niagara Falls
“I’m proud to represent an area that accounts for nearly 93% of Ontario's grape-growing volume. The Niagara region is also one the most attractive tourist destinations in Canada, with nearly 20 million visitors annually, many of whom visit our excellent wineries each year. As such, the contribution of Ontario’s Grape Growers cannot be understated: they produce some of the best grapes in the world, create thousands of jobs and have a tremendous positive impact on the economy. – Dean Alison, M.P. for Niagara West
“Niagara Day on the Hill is a fantastic opportunity to showcase one of Canada's top tourist destinations and everything it has to offer. The wine, agriculture, tourism, and scenery of the Niagara region is world class and has a substantial impact on Canada's economy.” – Chris Bittle, M.P. for St. Catharines.
About the Grape Growers of Ontario
Established in 1947, the Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization that represents over 500 actively producing grape growers of 18,000 acres of vineyards in the province’s three designated viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County, and emerging regions.
For more information contact: Debbie Zimmerman, CEO, Grape Growers of Ontario at (905) 401-2471.
Monday, October 31, 2022 - St. Catharines, ON: The Grape Growers of Ontario with the Honourable Speaker of the Legislature and MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills, Ted Arnott, hosted the 43rd Annual Wine Tasting event at Queen’s Park on Wednesday, October 26th. The following have been chosen as the official wines of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly for 2023:
Red Wine: 2017 Cabernet Syrah by Kacaba Vineyards and Winery
White Wine: 2020 White Ferox by Fabian Reis
Sparkling: Borealis 2021 Method Charmat
“As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Grape Growers of Ontario and choose the official VQA wines of the Legislative Assembly for the coming year, we thank Speaker Arnott and appreciate the Members of Provincial Parliament for their continued support of Ontario’s grape and wine industry,” said Matthias Oppenlaender, Chair. “New this year to the tasting event was a winery who primarily produces sparkling wines, and we congratulate Hinterland Wine Co. on their Borealis 2021 Method Charmat being selected at Queen’s Park.”
“The wines showcased at this event reflect the connection between 100% Ontario grown grapes and the winemakers who craft them. We congratulate all of Ontario’s wineries on producing top-quality VQA wines, and thank the seven wineries who participated in this year’s tasting,” said Debbie Zimmerman, CEO.
"Kacaba Vineyards and Winery is proud that our 2017 Cabernet Syrah has been chosen as the official red wine of the Ontario Legislature for 2023,” says Michael Kacaba, Owner. “We work diligently to produce top quality 100% Ontario grown wines and this is a testament to our hard work. I would like to thank the members of the Ontario Legislative Assembly for selecting our wine.”
“We are thrilled to have our 2020 White Wine selected as the official white wine of the Legislative Assembly for 2023. As one of Ontario’s newest wineries, this is a very special honour that showcases our commitment to producing high-quality wines made from 100% Ontario grown grapes. Thank you from our team at Ferox by Fabian Reis. Cheers!” Fabian and Stephanie Reis, Owners, Ferox by Fabian Reis.
"We are honoured to have our Borealis 2021 Method Charmat rosé selected as the inaugural official sparkling wine at Queen's Park for 2023,” says Vicki Samaras, Owner, Hinterland Wine Co. “Named after a rare pink aurora Borealis spotted in 2003, this 100% Ontario grown Cabernet Franc based wine is your locally made answer to pink Prosecco.”
Members of Provincial Parliament gathered to select the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s official VQA wines to be served at legislative functions throughout 2023. Participants tasted and marked their preferences on a voting ballot to determine which wines would be selected from seven Ontario VQA wineries. The Grape Growers of Ontario thank the Honourable Speaker Ted Arnott and look forward to continuing the tradition of the Legislative Wine Tasting.
The Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization that represents over 500 actively producing farm families of 18,000 acres in the province’s three viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County, and emerging regions across Ontario.
Who can receive a GGO number?
Any individual or company who has grapes planted within Ontario with the intent to sell for processing
Restrictions on grower numbers:
APPLICATION PROCESS FOR GGO NUMBER
GRAPE GROWER REGISTRATION FORM (PURCHASE OF EXISTING VINEYARD)
GRAPE GROWER REGISTRATION FORM (NEWLY PLANTED VINEYARD)
Please review OMAFRA's Cost of Production report and ensure you have a contract prior to planting.
To process wine, juice or Icewine:
Application for a Licence to Process Grapes
Application & Guide for a New or Transferred Manufacturer’s Liquor Licence
Winery Retail Store Information Guide
Application for an On-Site Winery Retail Store Authorization
Municipal Information for a Retail Store Authorization (this form has to be completed and sent with the Application for an On-Site Winery Retail Store Authorization)
Sampling Guidelines for Liquor Manufacturers
VQA Membership Application Form
To press Icewine or late harvest grapes for juice (for the intent to sell):
1a. An Icewine or late harvest juice processing number is required from the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO). It is mandatory for all estimate tonnage to be reported to the GGO via an electronic weigh bill.
1b. Icewine or late harvest juice needs to be registered with VQA.
All grape growers and processors can order a personalized farm gate sign by filling out the application form and submitting to firstname.lastname@example.org or by fax to 905-688-3211.
Signs come in two sizes: 24” x 30” and 24” x 36” (includes VQA symbol), and can be ordered with stainless steel bracket and hardware for hanging.
Please call (905) 688-0990 ext. 224 for more information.
2022 Transition Planning Webinars:
Financing Solutions - Erich Weber, OMAFRA
Legal Considerations of Estate Planning - Erica Blythe, Martin Sheppard Fraser LLP
Income Tax Considerations - Jack Kingma, Grant Thornton
Skilled workers and leaders are always needed in agriculture - on the farm, in the field, barn, processing plants, restaurants, at equipment dealers and even in boardrooms.
Ontario Federation of Agriculture has shared a list of agricultural scholarships and bursaries to support youth with an interest or passion in following a career in ag: https://ofa.on.ca/resources/agricultural-scholarships/
Please let us or OFA know if there additional scholarship or bursary opportunities available.
Check our our YouTube channel for webinars, and industry events and updates! https://www.youtube.com/user/GrapeGrowersOntario
Viticulture Webinar Series
Started in 2018 by Grape Growers of Ontario and Brock University's Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the webinar series focuses on current viticulture topics with experts in the field from bud survival to irrigation timing.
The Importance of Crop Yield Estimation
Ontario Grape and Wine Research Inc.
Canadian Grapevine Certification Network
Ontario Wine Appellation Authority
Wine Marketing Association of Ontario
Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Vineland Research and Innovation Centre (VRIC)
Niagara Agriculture Municipal Learning Network (NAMLN)