VQA Wine Coming to Farmers' Markets This May

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ontario Encouraging Consumers to Buy Local

April 27, 2014

Ontario is making it easier for consumers to pair local food with local wine by allowing Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines to be sold at farmers' markets starting May 1. 

The two-year pilot program is part of the Ontario government's local food strategy to increase demand for the good things that are grown, made and harvested in the province. VQA wines are crafted entirely from Ontario-grown grapes and must adhere to rigorous winemaking standards.

The province is implementing this initiative through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to ensure that wine sales are conducted in a socially responsible manner.

Supporting a successful agri-food sector is part of the government's economic plan that is creating jobs for today and tomorrow.  The comprehensive plan and its six priorities focus on Ontario's greatest strengths - its people and strategic partnerships.



"I want to ensure our government is doing everything it can to support the good things that are grown and made in Ontario. This project is a great opportunity to connect people with the world-class wine that is made in this province along with all of the other delicious local food found at our farmers’ markets."
- Kathleen Wynne
Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food

"Enhancing access to the province’s wines increases options for Ontario’s consumers and helps the wine and grape industry grow its reputation, locally, across Canada and globally. It will also help the province promote a variety of prime tourist destinations."
- Jim Bradley
MPP for St. Catharines

"Sales of VQA wines at farmers' markets create another needed opportunity for Ontario's wineries to connect with consumers — in this case closer to home side-by-side with our farmers. We encourage Ontarians to use the opportunity of matching their local food with local wines crafted from 100 per cent Ontario grapes. What grows together, goes together."
- Hillary Dawson
President, Wine Council of Ontario

"The wine and grape industry in Ontario is very excited by this opportunity to expose more consumers to our world class VQA wines through farmers' markets. We are certain that this new initiative by the government will prove to be very successful with Ontarians across the province and enrich the unique local experience of farmers' markets."
- Patrick Gedge
CEO and President of the Winery and Grower Alliance of Ontario

"The Grape Growers of Ontario welcomes this new retail opportunity to offer 100 per cent Ontario grown VQA Wines at Ontario's farmer's markets. The Government of Ontario has taken an important step to improving access for consumers to Ontario VQA wines."
- Bill George
Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario

"We are very excited to be able to feature VQA wines on this season’s list of local products that will be sold at our markets and others across Ontario. It will be a great addition for our customers who come to get their vegetables, fruits, bread, cheese, and a bottle of VQA wine. Unique to the Stratford Farmers' Market, this will provide another opportunity for tourists that visit Stratford to do one-stop shopping for their riverside dining pleasures."
- Martin Ritsma
Manager, Stratford Farmers’ Market



  • Allowing VQA wines to be sold at farmers’ markets is part of the province’s renewed Wine and Grape Strategy.
  • Launched in 2009, the strategy has supported significant growth in the sector, including doubling the number of VQA wineries, creating 2,000 direct jobs, record grape production, and the development of prime tourist destinations, from the Niagara Peninsula to Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore.
  • According to an industry study, Ontario’s wine and grape industry contributed $3.3 billion to the province’s economy in 2011.
  • Ontario is the largest wine region in Canada and shares the same latitude as the Burgundy Region in France.
  • VQA wine sales in Ontario have increased by $100 million since 2008 — from $168 million in 2008 to $268 million in 2013.
  • There are approximately 200 farmers’ markets and 140 VQA wineries in Ontario.