Industry Corner

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

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VQA Newsletters

Member newsletters available for downloading:
Mar 2022 
  • Pecorino grape now permitted
  • Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario Certified program
  • Pet Nat Forums
  • Enter IW/LH harvest information
  • Membership renewals due
Feb 2022 
  • LCBO Sample Deliveries New Location Feb 14
  • Wine Approvals important processing information
  • Membership renewals for 2022-23
  • Monthly Sales Reporting changes
  • Phasing out of old VQA logo
Jan 2022 
  • Monthly Sales report changes
  • Approvals for purchased bulk wine
  • Appassimento regulation change posted for public comment
  • 2022 Calendar updates
Dec 2021 
  • Lab sample deliveries
  • Appassimento rule change posted for public comment
  • New chair for Standards Development Committee
  • Label Review quick checklist
Nov 2021 
  • Icewine, LH, SFW registrations
  • December testing schedule
  • Reminder of fee increase
Oct 2021 
  • Approval Fee Increase Nov 1
  • Appassimento Regulation status
  • Exports to Taiwan
  • New Rack Card coming from WMAO
Sep 2021 
  • Minimum Average Brix Chart
  • New variety Glera approved
  • Call for images and video showcasing Ontario Appellations
  • New Wine Testing Coordinator
Aug 2021 
  • 2021 new Board members
  • Audit Program rollout
  • Reminder on approval procedures
Jul 2021 
  • AGM Reminder
  • 2021 Board Election Nominations
  • 2021 Annual Report Highlights
  • New Director, Audit & Compliance
Jun 2021 
  • AGM Announcements
  • VQA Winery Audit Program
  • Principal display panel rules
May 2021 
  • Wine Appellation Authority Member Handbook
  • Staff changes at the Appellation Authority
  • A note on Finished wines - Sparkling
Apr 2021 
  • 2021/22 Membership fee waived
  • Tasting Panel transition to Appellation Authority
  • VQA submission reminders
  • Ontario Craft Wine Conference 2021
Mar 2021 
  • Membership Renewal and Profile Updating
  • Hiring Wine Approvals & Testing Coordinator
  • VQA Year End Clean Up
  • New Wine Approvals "Search" Function
Feb 2021 
  • Wine Approval scheduling reminder
  • Charmat Method Sparkling wines
  • Pétillant Naturel
  • Sales in Non-standard containers
  • For wineries exporting to the USA
Jan 2021 
  • 2021 Resolution: Set yourself up for success – Tasting panel
  • Icewine Reminder
Dec 2020 
  • December Wine Approvals Timing
  • 2020 Holiday Office Hours
  • Icewine Reporting - New Procedures
Nov 2020 
  • November 15 registrations reminder - IW, LH and SFW
  • 2020 Holiday Tasting Schedule
  • VQA Invoice handling tips
  • Use of VQA terms before releasing a wine
Oct 2020 
  • Minimum Brix Late Harvest
  • VQA Tastings update
  • Additional labels for VQA wines
Sep 2020 
  • Minimum Brix Charts
  • Skin Fermented White refresher
  • Vin De Cure/Appassimento rule change request for comment
  • Industry survey: Impact of Covid-19 on your winery business
Aug 2020 
  • AGM Zoom meeting details
  • Changes to Shipping form
  • Effervescent wine category
  • Certificate of analysis clarification
  • 5th Wine & Grape Performance study now available
Jul 2020 
  • COVID-19 Operations update
  • AGM date - Aug 13
  • How to request a regulation change
Jun 2020 
  • July Holiday taste scheduling
  • AGM Postponed
  • Skin Fermented White Refresher
May 2020 
  • COVID-19 Operations update
  • VQA Services website - Geo-fencing notice
  • Monthly sales reports - final notice
Apr 2020 
  • COVID-19 Operations update
  • Traceability and lot codes
  • Mandetory upload of monthly sales reports
Mar 2020 
  • Renewing your membership online
  • Updating personnel profiles
  • Traceability and lot codes
Feb 2020 
  • Getting faster wine testing results
  • Mandetory lot codes on all wines
  • Lunch & Learn in Norfolk
  • Petillant Naturel style
Jan 2020 
  • 2020 Resolution: A Successful Audit
  • Benchmarking study closed
  • Update on paying VQA invoices
  • Lot Codes required for Non-vintage wines
Dec 2019 
  • Benchmarking study due Dec 6!
  • Uploading Monthly Sales Reports
  • VQA Staff contact info
  • Holiday Hours
Nov 2019 
  • Lunch & Learn Nov/Dec 2019
  • 2019 Benchmarking Study reminder
  • New VQA logo FAQs
Oct 2019 
  • 2019 Benchmarking Study launch
  • New Federal labelling rules
  • Lunch & Learn sessions
Sep 2019 
  • Ontario Wine Masterclass
  • Lunch and Learn - LENS
  • Introducing new VQA Logo!
  • New Digital VI1 forms
Aug 2019 
  • Winemakers forum - working with hybrid grapes
  • 2019-20 Board of Directors
  • 2019 Annual Report
  • Supplementary approvals explained
Jul 2019 
  • AGM/Wine Symposium/Awards Dinner
  • VQA Board Elections
  • VQA Office and phone information
  • Shipping samples directly to LCBO
Jun 2019 
  • VQA Office is moving!
  • Top five things you need to know about VQA invoices and reporting
  • What appears on your Certificate of Analysis and on our Wine Search feature
May 2019 
  • 2018 Wine and Grape Industry Benchmarking Study
  • Appellation Research Study
  • Understanding blending rules for table wine
April 2019 
  • 2018 Tasting Report available
  • New CFIA Export Certification Process
  • Label check list
March 2019 
  • Update your online profile
  • Upload your Monthly Sales Reports
  • Managing invoices from VQA Ontario
  • Independent Tasting Panel
February 2019 
  • Membership fee reduced!
  • Announcing PEC Winemaker's Forum
  • Proposed Regulation Changes - Marquette and Non-Vintage table wines
January 2019 
  • Set yourself up for success at the tasting panel
  • Office Staff update
  • The Authority prevails at the Ontario Divisional Court
December 2018 
  • Listing of coming deadlines
  • Revised Rules for Approvals
  • Uploading Monthly Sales Reports
November 2018 
  • Benchmarking Study now!
  • Registering Icewine, Late Harvest & SFW grapes!
  • Advertising VQA wine before approval
October 2018 
  • Feedback for proposed regulation changes
  • Ontario Wine & Grape Benchmarking Study coming soon!
  • VQA Online Services enhancements
September 2018 
  • Online payment now available
  • Recruiting Independent Tasting Panel
  • Pre-registration of Skin Fermented White wines and Icewine
August 2018 
  • 2018-2019 Board of Directors
  • 2018 Annual Report Highlights and link
July 2018 
  • Consumer protection = accurate and verified label claims
  • VQA Research project - 3rd year request
  • Tips for the month - VQA logo on packaging
June 2018 
  • Welcome new VQA Wine Approvals Co-ordinator
  • VQA Research Project call out
  • Tips - Navigating the Wine Approvals System; Minimizing processing times
May 2018 
  • By-law amendments for ratification at the Annual Meeting
  • Calling all Pet Nat producers!
  • Conjunctive labelling – unlocking the value in your appellation
  • Know your obligations – Sales
April 2018 
  • Know your obligations as a VQA member - membership and wine standards
  • Tips for submitting wine approvals
  • Set yourself up for success at the tasting panel
March 2018 
  • Pétillant naturel
  • VQA turns 30 this year
  • Link to article "Appellation tastings – an insider’s riposte"
February 2018 
  • LCBO and VQA fees explanation
  • Online Security Alert for .com website
  • Description of VQA Services coming enhancements
  • Callout for anyone interested in hosting a Winemakers forum
January 2018 
  • PEC Winemakers Forum in January
  • Summary of updates to online system
  • VQA Wine Research Project - sample request

News Releases

New VQA Logo released

9 September 2019
VQA Logo

The Wine Marketing Association of Ontario (WMAO) has recently completed a 2-year project to redesign and modernize the VQA logo. Led by industry marketing professionals, the project aimed to create a more contemporary logo with a strong connection to authenticity, origin and quality while retaining brand equity in the existing logo. The design process included consumer research to ensure the logo appealed to WMAO’s principal target audiences. The new logo will debut in WMAO’s activities beginning in September and LCBO’s Period 7 VQA promotion campaign.

Use of the VQA logo on VQA wine packaging is optional, but to ensure consistency if used, the manner in which the logo appears is regulated under Regulation 406 of the VQA Act. If you plan to use the logo in association with a particular wine – on packaging, POS materials or advertising – please refer to the September 2019 version of the VQA Medallion Graphics Standards Manual. Required artwork is also available from WMAO and VQA Ontario on our website. For the purpose of new label approvals, the old logo will be accepted during a transition period to be determined.

Wine and Grape Industry Performance Study

26 April 2019

The fourth annual industry survey conducted by VQA Ontario and Deloitte on sector health and profitability is now available.

Download the 2018 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 2015 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 report provides an overview of the financial state of the industry, including the impact of tourism and hospitality.

Download the 2017 Wine and Grape Industry Performance Study.

Download the 2016 Wine and Grape Industry Performance Study.

Download the 2015 Wine and Grape Industry Performance Study.

New Booklets and Brochures available

There are several new VQA-related items now available in our library regarding VQA's milestones and future goals. Feel free to browse our Library as an excellent source for learning about VQA Ontario.

VQA Regulation Changes

VQA Regulations can be viewed in detail at: ( or by contacting the VQA office.

August 12, 2019

New VQA rules adding the Marquette grape variety and permitting non-vintage table wines take effect August 12, 2019.

The Minister of Government and Consumer Services has approved an amendment to VQA wine regulation, adding new grape variety, Marquette, to the list of approved grape varieties and allowing for the production to non-vintage dated table wines. In both cases, these wines will be classified as “VQA Ontario” and not designated with smaller appellations of origin.

"We are very pleased the Minister has approved Marquette for use in VQA wines and extended the option of blending wine across vintages to allow for non-vintage VQA table wines. These changes provide new tools for Ontario winemakers who are striving to make the best wine possible, year in and year out in our unique climate," said Brian Schmidt, Chair of the Board of Directors of VQA Ontario.

These changes resulted from separate requests submitted to VQA Ontario by Ontario wineries. Following a technical review and stakeholder consultation, VQA Ontario recommended the amendments to the Minister for approval. The regulatory changes take effect immediately, allowing wineries to apply for VQA certification for Marquette or non-vintage table wines for existing and future inventory.

Marquette is a red grape cultivar that was developed in Minnesota through a breeding program to develop quality wine grapes. It is established in Ontario, notably in emerging wine regions and established a track record in producing quality wines. It is winter hardy and exhibits high disease and pest resistance.

Historically, VQA regulations have required all wines except Sparkling and Fortified wines be labelled with a vintage date and be sourced from at least 85% of grapes grown in the declared vintage. The amendment permits wineries to blend multiple vintages together and omit the vintage date from the label. If a vintage date is declared, the wine must meet the minimum 85% content requirement. This change allows wineries more flexibility to ensure quality and consistency across production cycles.

For further background information please view the following article.

July 1, 2017

New VQA rules creating a category for skin-fermented white wines take effect on July 1, 2017. The requirements are as follows:

  • The wine must be made entirely from grapes that are fermented with the skins present and on skins for at least 10 days
  • The wine must be made from white or pink grape varieties
  • In addition to the usual label requirements (vintage, variety if hybrid), the words "Skin Fermented White" must appear on the front label at least 2 mm in size adjacent to the variety name
  • If no varieties are shown on the front label, "Skin Fermented White" must be at least 3.2 mm in size
  • If the wine is bottled with lees and this is declared on the label, turbidity limits will not applied for the purpose of the chemical analysis

March 8, 2017

Changes were made to Sparkling Wine rules. These changes retain existing requirements for both Traditional Method and Cuve Close/Charmat wines and replace the Aromatic category with a more flexible category for basic Sparkling wines. In brief, the new Sparkling Wine category:

  • Must be carbonated exclusively through fermentation (no artificial carbonation)
  • Has no minimum time on lees or aging requirements
  • Can be made from any grape variety on the VQA list of approved varieties, subject to the mandatory label declaration for hybrid grapes
  • Can use the Ontario appellation only
  • Cannot reference the method of production unless it meets all requirements for either Traditional Method or Cuve Close/Charmat Method

July 1, 2016

Amendments to the VQA Regulation remove the prohibition on placing the VQA logo or letters on wine closures (e.g., corks), and lower the minimum brix level of all vitis vinifera Muscat grape varieties from more specific appellations than Ontario from 18.0° to 17.0° brix.

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

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.

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.

January 1, 2013

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.

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.