Industry Corner

Member news & information, regulation changes, winemaker's forums, CCOVI events, etc.

Events and Presentations

2016 VQA Winemaker Forums

The following winemaker forums are being held this winter:

Lake Erie North Shore: March 10, 2016 @ Colio Estates Winery in Harrow

Prince Edward County: March 11, 2016 @ Huff Estates Winery in Picton

VQA Newsletters

Member newsletters available for downloading:
May 2016 
  • Keeping your VQA information current
  • Export considerations
  • VQA certification: A 3-step process
  • Field trip to the Tasting Panel - May 18, 2016
  • Exciting research opportunity
Apr 2016 
  • VQA Ontario: Supporting 15 years Of Ontario Wine Industry Growth
  • 12 months to bottle
  • VQA Progress and Priorities
  • Tips for processing approval applications
Feb 2016 
  • Membership renewal reminder
  • Wine Approval tips
  • Expediting your wine to the Independant Tasting Panel
  • Winery audit preparation tips
Dec 2015 
  • Holiday Season Schedule
  • Late Harvest and Icewine grape registration
  • Ontario Wine Industry benchmarking survey
Oct 2015 
  • Making sure your grapes remain VQA-eligible
  • Ontario Wine Industry survey announcement
  • Planning ahead for December wine testing schedule
Jul 2015 
  • New Board Members announcement
  • South Islands declared new sub-appellation
  • More evidence appellation adds value
Dec 2014 
  • Status of pending regulation changes
  • 2015/2016 Generic VQA marketing program
Oct 2014 
  • Late Harvest and Icewine grape registration
  • Restrictions on the use of trademarks “vqa” and “icewine”
Jun 2014 
  • Changes to LCBO's product listing applications (NISS)
  • Update to "Rules for Approvals" procedures
  • Rule changes approved by Board, awaiting approval by Minister
  • VQA Stickers
Apr 2014 
  • Rule change for consultation - new sub-appellation South Islands and non-glass packaging amendment
  • New Online wine transfer system (WTS) now in effect
Mar 2014 
  • VQA Regulation changes - new icewine minimum residual sugar and new grape synomyms added
  • Rule changes feedback - new sub-appellation and appellation use on packaging
  • 2013 Winery Tasting Report and individual reports
Feb 2014 
  • VQA sales levies decreasing April 1, 2014
  • Changes to late harvest/icewine registration process for next vintage
  • Seminar on VQA labelling, approvals, audits and reporting
  • VQAO Research Survey
Aug 2013 
  • VQAO research survey information
  • VQA harvest requirements
  • Rules on appellation labelling take effect with the 2013 vintage
  • Mandatory sulphites labelling
Jun 2013 
  • Getting the most value from the VQA System
  • Approval fee increase - June 1
Dec 2012 
  • Regulation changes in effect January 1, 2013
  • Multi Appellation Labelling
Oct 2012 
  • Reminder - Late Harvest and Icewine registration
  • Reminder - VQA Sales Reports - fee change
  • Reminder - December approval processing schedule
Sep 2012 
  • Recent rule changes and the wine approval application
  • VQA grape documentation requirements
  • Change to a literage based fee
  • Getting the most from the online Approvals System
  • More on VQA labelling rules
Jul 2012 
  • Regulation Changes in effect July 1, 2012
  • VQA logo now optional on package
  • Sauvignon Blanc added to list of Aromatic Sparkling wines
Dec 2011 
  • Status of proposal to expand VQA packaging options
  • Optional use of VQA Logo proposal
  • Status of Pelee Island appellation changes
Oct 2011 
  • VQA labelling rules – General Guidelines
  • Late Harvest and Icewine Registrations
  • December Tasting Schedule details
Aug 2011 
  • Updated audit requirments â€" SETGO records
  • Wine approvals - process tips
Jul 2011 
  • Regulation changes effective after July 1, 2011
  • Updates to online wine approval system including VI-1 certificate processing
Jun 2011 
  • Pending Regulation Changes
  • Revised policy for adding new grape varieties to VQA list
  • VQA Business Plan
  • Important information for icewine juice producers and buyers
Mar 2011 
  • Coming Events
  • Using VQA Ontario's Online Systems
  • VQA Audit Requirements
Dec 2010 
  • Late Harvest and Icewine Registrations
  • Use of foreign appellations to describe VQA wines
  • Virtual wineries
  • CCOVI lecture series for 2011
Sep 2010 
  • Brix Testing for Grapes that will be Dried Before Fermentation
  • VQAO Board to Conduct a Strategic Review of the Winemaking Regulations
  • New Application Fees for Wine Approvals as of October 1
  • Full Implementation of New Labelling Rules for the 2010 Vintage

Wine and Grape Industry Performance Study

The Ontario Wine and Grape Strategy was renewed by the Ontario Government for five years commencing in 2015/16.

In support of the strategy, VQA Ontario was asked to develop and implement the first annual Ontario Wine and Grape Industry Performance Study. The survey and report were developed by VQA Ontario and Deloitte in consultation with representatives of the wine and grape industry and the Government of Ontario.

The study is aimed at providing benchmarking and performance data to support the reporting commitments of the Wine and Grape Strategy and to improve the industry’s access to sector performance information.

The first wave of the study collected comprehensive information from 106 wineries and 42 non-winery grape growers. The report provides an overview of the financial state of the industry, including the impact of tourism and hospitality.

download the Performance Study.

VQA Regulation Change
– South Islands declared new sub-appellation

July 1, 2015 - a new sub-appellation of Lake Erie North Shore has been created. South Islands are the nine islands in the western end of Lake Erie that comprise the municipality of the Town of Pelee Island. Within the Lake Erie North Shore region, South Islands is Canada’s southernmost wine-growing region.


The minimum requirement for residual sugar in finished Icewine has been changed from 125 g/L to 100 g/L. This change allows wineries to produce slightly less sweet Icewine but all other elements of the production standards for Icewine will remain unchanged. Further information on the standards or technical information on Icewine production can be obtained from the following link

VQA Regulation Change
– Revision of minimum residual sugar for Icewine

March 14, 2014 - VQA Ontario has implemented the following amendment to the production standard for Icewine (VQA Regulation 406)

Revision of Minimum Residual Sugar for Icewine from 125 g/L to 100 g/L


The minimum requirement for residual sugar in finished Icewine has been changed from 125 g/L to 100 g/L. This change allows wineries to produce slightly less sweet Icewine but all other elements of the production standards for Icewine will remain unchanged. Further information on the standards or technical information on Icewine production can be obtained from the following link
( or by contacting the VQA office.

This change harmonizes VQA standards with the recently adopted national guideline and with existing regulations in British Columbia. The change has no impact on Canada’s trade agreements or the export of Icewine to foreign markets.

Multi Appellation Labelling

VQA regulations have changed to permit the use of multiple appellations to describe a wine under limited conditions

Under the old VQA rules, wines that blend content from different appellations had to "declassify" the wine to the next largest appellation that applies. For example, a blend of Lake Erie North Shore and Niagara Peninsula grapes could only refer to the appellation Ontario or a blend of Lincoln Lakeshore and Four Mile Creek could use only Niagara Peninsula or Ontario. The rules prohibited the use of multiple appellations to describe a wine.

Effective January 1, 2013, multiple appellations may be listed on a wine label as part of a truthful, accurate description of content for most wines under the following conditions:

  • The official appellation for which the wine qualifies must appear on the principal display panel (existing rules)
  • The component appellations of the wine may be listed on the label (or in any off-label description) if all components are included in descending order and accurate percentages are listed
  • No other reference to an appellation for which the wine does not qualify may be made on the label, signage, advertising, descriptions or other use that is associated with a specific wine

Wines that are declassified to "Ontario" for reasons of brix, hybrid content or method of production are not be eligible to use more specific appellation terms or multi-appellation labelling to declare the content of the wine.

For example, a blend of Lake Erie North Shore and Niagara Peninsula grapes may now state 60% Lake Erie North Shore, 40% Niagara Peninsula in addition to the declaration VQA Ontario VQA. A blend of 10% Lincoln Lakeshore and 90% Four Mile Creek may declare this in addition to the declaration "VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA". Statements such as “this wine contains 50% Prince Edward County grapes and 50% Niagara Peninsula grapes” will be allowed.

The VQA Act and regulations prohibit all use of appellation terms in association with a wine that does not qualify for the stated term. In conjunction with this regulation change, VQA Ontario will be strictly enforcing this requirement to reduce the potentially misleading use of protected appellation terms. Beginning with the 2013 vintage, any and all use of appellation terms on the label or directly associated with a wine that does not qualify for the term will be prohibited. This will require the removal of all descriptive text such as "visit our winery in Beamsville Bench" or “our winemaker hails from Prince Edward County” for wines that do not qualify for the stated appellation. Terms used in recognized postal addresses will continue to be exempt.

Allergen Labelling

New federal rules in effect August 4, 2012

Health Canada has issued further information on the implementation of new allergen labelling regulations which take effect August 4, 2012. Wines that contain allergens such as sulphites, milk, fish, egg or wheat must carry an allergen warning.

It will not be required to list egg, fish and milk allergens used as fining agents if the wine is filtered in accordance with good manufacturing practices. Unfiltered wines treated with these agents will have to list eggs, fish or milk, unless it can be shown that there is no residual protein remaining in the final wine product.

Health Canada has advised that wines carrying a vintage date of 2011 or earlier will be exempt from sulphite or egg, fish and milk allergen labelling. All wines with a vintage date of 2012 or later will have to meet the new labelling rules. Please review the letter from Health Canada (click here)  and the related regulations posted on the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

For more information read the GUIDANCE FOR THE FINING OF WINE AND THE LABELLING OF FINED WINES (July 2012) document from the Canadian Vintners Association

Amendments to VQA Regulation 406 effect as of July 1, 2012

Alternative packaging

VQA wines that use the appellation of origin “Ontario” may be packaged in containers other than glass bottles. The change does not apply to wines that use more specific claims of origin regulated by VQA Ontario such as Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville Bench, Lake Erie North Shore or Prince Edward County. These wines will continue to be packaged in glass bottles.

The alternative containers include stainless steel kegs and containers made of aluminum, plastic (PET), or multi layer containers such as TetraPak or bag-in-box. These containers may be used under the following conditions:

  • The geographical indication on the container must be “Ontario”
  • The date on which the container was filled must appear on the container in plain language format
  • The packaging must comply with the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (Canada)
  • The wine shall be packaged in accordance with good manufacturing practices appropriate to the container used
  • The container must be closed with a tamper evident seal that preserves the quality of the wine
  • Reasonable efforts must be made to monitor the shelf life of the wine and manage inventory to ensure that quality is maintained up to the point of sale
VQA logo now optional on package

Wineries now have the option to label VQA wine bottles (or containers) without the VQA logo on the package if they increase the declared appellation size, including the VQA letters, to a size of 3.2 mm or larger. The appellation declaration must appear on the principal display panel.

Authorized Grape Varieties

Sauvignon Blanc has been added to list of approved varieties for Aromatic Sparkling wines.

For more information please see the full text of Regulation 406.

If you have any questions regarding implementation of these changes, please contact the VQA Ontario office at 416-367-2002 or email us at

Notice from LCBO Quality Assurance Laboratory

Independent Analytical Services
LCBO logo

The LCBO Laboratory offers analytical services directly to VQA wineries for purposes outside of the VQA approval process. This might include additional testing for VQA wines that is not covered in the VQA process or testing at stages before or after the wine is in the approval phase. LCBO provides a full analytical service as well as sensory analysis and label review services.

For those using this service, or who may use it in future, please note that LCBO now requires samples be accompanied by a submission form that specifies the client needs for analysis. More information is available at the LCBO Trade webpage.

A special note on Total Acidity tests for the purpose of completing the VI-1 form (export certification for European destinations)

TA tests to be used for export certification should be requested through VQA Ontario so that the test results can be linked to the appropriate VQA wine ID. VI-1 certificates are issued by VQA Ontario and the process requires testing data to be drawn from the VQA Wine Approvals database. Ideally, wineries should request Total Acidity testing at the time of the approval application if the wine is intended for export to Europe. Online requests can also be made after the approval is completed by logging into the general information page for the particular wine.