Proposal

Proposed amendments to wine standards rules contained in Ontario Regulation 406/00 under the Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999.

Regulation Number(s):
Ontario Regulation 406/00
Instrument Type:
Proposal
Bill or Act:
Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999
Summary of Proposal:
The Ontario Wine Appellation Authority (OWAA), also known as Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario, is designated as the administrative authority responsible for the administration of the Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999 (the "Act") and its regulations. Under the Act, the OWAA has authority to make wine standard rules which are contained in Ontario Regulation 406/00.

The proposed changes would:

1. Add a new regional appellation and amend the boundaries of Niagara Escarpment.

• This proposed change would create a new regional appellation named "West Niagara" and amend boundaries of the existing Niagara Escarpment regional appellation to include St. David's Bench.
• Under this change, "West Niagara" would include the Niagara sub-appellations Beamsville Bench, Creek Shores, Lincoln Lakeshore, Short Hills Bench, Twenty Mile Bench and Vinemount Ridge. As a result, the new "Niagara West" regional appellation would encompass all sub-appellations west of St. Catharines. This is consistent with the existing regional appellation "Niagara-on- the-Lake" that encompasses all sub-appellations east of St. Catharines.
• Amending the boundaries of the "Niagara Escarpment" regional appellation to add St. David's Bench would better align the "Niagara Escarpment" appellation to the physical boundaries of the escarpment. Overall, these changes will make the Niagara appellation framework similar for the east and west areas of Niagara and more consistent with consumer perceptions, tourism and marketing conventions linked to regional travel.

2. Amend the labelling rules for regulated terms.

• This proposed change would amend the labelling rules for regulated terms to permit Cuve Close and Charmat Method Sparkling wines to use all appellation terms instead of Ontario only. Currently, sparkling wines using the Cuve Close or Charmat Method of tank fermentation must be declassified to VQA Ontario.
• The proposed change would permit these sparkling wines to be labelled with the viticultural and sub-viticultural area, vineyard designation and estate bottles if the wine otherwise meets the requirements of those designations. This change would provide wineries with the flexibility to label Cuve Close and Charmat wines with appellations more specific than Ontario.

3. Amend the list of permitted grape varieties.

• This proposed change would amend the list of permitted grape varieties to add Frontenac Noir, Frontenac Gris and Frontenac Blanc to the list of hybrid grape varieties permitted to be used in varietally labelled wines. As well, the grape variety Hibernal would be moved to the list of hybrid varieties permitted to be used in varietally labelled hybrid wines.
• These proposed changes would increase choice among VQA varietal wines while retaining transparency for consumers for hybrid grape content. The number of hybrid grape varieties would be increased but all existing rules that apply to wines containing hybrid grapes would remain.
Analysis of Regulatory Impact:
There are no new or increased administrative or compliance costs to regulated entities associated with this proposal.

These proposed changes would provide more flexibility to OWAA member wineries, including flexibility to label wine made from grape grown across all western Niagara sub-appellations with a region smaller than Niagara Peninsula; to blend grapes from all Bench sub-appellations under the Niagara Escarpment label; and to label Cuve Close and Charmat wines with appellations more specific than Ontario.

Additionally, the proposed changes to add to the list of permitted grape varieties would expand access to the VQA system for wineries growing cold hardy and sustainable grape varieties and would also provide opportunities for wineries to develop new products
Further Information:
Proposal Number:
24-MPBSD008
Posting Date:
May 21, 2024
Comments Due Date:
July 5, 2024
Contact Address:
Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
Public Safety and Operations Policy Branch
56 Wellesley St. W. 6th Floor, Toronto, ON M7A 1C1
Comment on this proposal via email