Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Truth About VQA

When you are looking a at wine in the LCBO, or anywhere else for that matter, and you see that VQA logo on a bottle of wine and what does it mean?

For many of you it may be a bit of reassurance that the wine will be a least of a good quality in nature. Right?

Before I answer the question, let me give you some more background.

VQA in Ontario is a regional or Appellation system that clearly identifies that areas in Ontario where wines are produces. VQA also has some requirements on the varietal and contents to make a VQA wine.

There are 4 main regions in Ontario when it comes to VQA. Peele Island, Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Peninsula, and Prince Edward County. For a detailed map take a look here.

VQA also has an operating committee that consists of 12 members that represent all the wineries in Ontario, from small to large. This committee basically decides how the wine industry in Ontario works, or at least to make a VQA wine.

There is also a list requirements on wine standards that must be met to be designated as a VQA wine.
From the type of bottle, no addition of water, accurate labels and 100% Ontario grown grapes.

Every VQA wine meets the following standard:

  • Wine must be made from 100% fresh Ontario grown grapes — no concentrates are permitted - Grapes used must meet a quality standard for each variety (measured by natural sugar content in the ripe grapes)
  • No water can be added in the winemaking process
  • Labels must be truthful and accurately represent the wine in the bottle
  • All wines except for sparkling wines must be vintage dated and meet vintage requirements
  • All wines must be packaged in glass bottles with cork, synthetic or approved screwcap closures
  • All finished wines are evaluated by an expert taste panel and a laboratory analysis and must meet minimum quality standards before release

In addition, regulations establish detailed standards for specific claims of origin and for each individual style and type of wine. Wine-making standards are described in full in regulations made under the VQA Act.

There are a lot more details about VQA that I won't get into. I'll let you learn more about it from their website.

So back to my original question. If an Ontario wine is a VQA wine, does that make it a good quality wine?

The short answer is NO.

Just because an Ontario wine is labeled VQA, it doesn't make it good. This is just like the many wines from other countries that have been labeled according to their country's system, such as AOC in France and DOC in Italy that aren't good.

Please don't get me wrong, there are many wines in Ontario that have come a long way since they started in the industry, but there is still a long way to go.

I do drink Ontario wines. I am very specific on where they come from, and how they are produced. We could be a leader in the world market and are in some areas, such as Ice Wine. There really isn't a country that can compete with us on that one. We are in Canada after all!

I do say keep drinking Ontario wines, but be specific. Find the good producers and support them. This will hopefully get the message that the others need to pull up there socks.

Enjoy a glass.


  1. Excellent post! Very much worth reading for all wine drinkers.

  2. Thanks so much and thanks for reading!


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