Vintners Quality Alliance

Vintners Quality Alliance

Vintners Quality Alliance, or VQA, is a regulatory and appellation system which guarantees the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made under that system. British Columbia VQA wine is produced from 100 percent British Columbia grapes under an audit system currently administered by the British Columbia Wine Institute. In Ontario, VQA wine is produced from 100 percent Ontario grapes under an audit system administered by the Vintners Quality Alliance - Ontario.

The VQA system allows for sub-appellations, by which the grapes for wines are sourced from extremely specific geographical locations with different soil and climate. This is in accordance with the concept of terroir. Wine quality and prices may increase with increasing specificity of origin of the grapes.


In addition to the requirements regarding sources of grapes, VQA wines may be made from vinifera varieties and those hybrid varieties which have been approved by the Vintners Quality Alliance. In BC, VQA wines are made primarily with vinifera grapes while Ontario uses a range of vinifera and notably permits the use of Vidal. This varietal is commonly used in the production of Canada's most famous wine abroad, Icewine, and is accepted by the international Icewine standards set out by Austria, Germany and Canada. As Canada's highest quality wines, VQA wines may be made with grapes from relatively small agricultural yields per vine (which increases quality), they meet specific sugar or brix levels at harvest, and are regulated in terms of the use of additives during wine production. There are also standards regulating the use of certain types of packaging and closures.

To receive the VQA designation, wine must undergo testing by the Vintners Quality Alliance in British Columbia or Ontario. Qualifying wines usually have the VQA symbol on the neck capsule or label, although some wineries minimize its presence on the label, leading to ambiguity regarding the wine's origin.


Ontario appellations and sub-appellations

Total production for Ontario appellation wines is approximately 20,000 tonnes.
* Ontario provincial appellation - Wine is made from grapes grown anywhere in Ontario.

*Regional Appellations:
** Regional Appellation - Lake Erie North Shore
** Regional Appellation - Pelee Island
** Regional Appellation - Prince Edward County
** Regional Appellation - Niagara Peninsula (includes all appellations below, Canada's largest)
***Collective sub-appellation - Niagara Escarpment (includes the 3 sub-appellations below)
****Sub-appellation - Short Hills Bench
****Sub-appellation - Twenty Mile Bench
****Sub-appellation - Beamsville Bench
***Collective sub-appellation - Niagara-on-the-Lake (includes the 4 sub-appellations immediately below)
****Sub-appellation - Niagara River
****Sub-appellation - Niagara Lakeshore
****Sub-appellation - Four Mile Creek
****Sub-appellation - St. David’s Bench
***Sub-appellation - Vinemount Ridge
***Sub-appellation - Creek Shores
***Sub-appellation - Lincoln Lakeshore

The new viticultural area known as Prince Edward County has finally received recognition and VQA status on June 11, 2007 by the Ontario Ministry of Government Services. Many consider it to be an area which will play a small but unique role in Ontario's wine industry with many wineries opening in the last few years.

British Columbia appellations

(total production for 2006 20,000+ tons) For complete appellation descriptions and map go to the British Columbia Wine Institute
* British Columbia provincial appellation - Wine is made from 100% British Columbia grapes.
** Regional Appellation - Okanagan Valley
** Regional Appellation - Similkameen Valley
** Regional Appellation - Fraser Valley
** Regional Appellation - Vancouver Island
** Regional Appellation - Gulf IslandsThere are no sub-appellations in the province of BC.



* British Columbia Wine Institute (the regulatory role is being transferred to the new British Columbia Wine Authority, which will be a government body).
* Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario, is a regulatory agency of the Province of Ontario that administers the Ontario VQA Act.

Marketing & Advocacy

* British Columbia Wine Institute
* Wine Council of Ontario

Other organizations

* B.C. Grape Growers Association (represent independent growers).
* Association of B.C. Winegrowers (represents smaller and fruit wineries).
* Grape Growers of Ontario (represent growers and negotiate the prices of grapes).
* Ontario Wine Producers Association

ee also

* Canadian wine
* non-appellation Canadian wines

External links

* [ Canadian Vintners Association]
* [ VQA Ontario]
* [ British Columbia Wine Institute]
* [ Grape Growers of Ontario]
* [ B.C. Grape Growers Association]
* [ Wines of Ontario]
* [ The Association of B.C. Winegrowers]

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