I finally picked up the spring issue of LCBO’s Food and Drink magazine today. And I actually got a chance to flip through the whole issue – front to back. I love reading the articles and I always get inspired to try new recipes. One of the featured wines, 20 Bees Growers’ White, boasts 100% homegrown (Ontario) grapes. This reminded me of a conversation I once had with a friend who told me that wines marked “Ontario wine” can contain up to 90% imported grapes. I thought that sounded ridiculous, figured it was exaggerated and didn’t put too much thought into it. Until today. So I decided to look into and figure it out, once and for all.
Here’s the scoop (from Grape Growers of Ontario):
- If a wine is labelled VQA, it is always 100% Ontario grapes, specifically, in Niagara Peninsula, Pelee Island, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County.
- At one point in time, a wine could be labelled “Ontario” with up to 90% imported grapes. That was to compensate for a grape shortage. That was back in 1993.
- If the wine is labelled “Product of Canada”, it contains at least 75% Canadian grapes.
- If the wine is labelled “Cellared by/in …”, it contains at least 30% Ontario grown grapes.
The only wines that are guaranteed to be local (to Torontonians) are the VQA ones. That’s what Josh and I drink most of the time, specifically the ones for which I get bonus Airmiles. That’s another reason for us local eaters to buy VQA. (Do you VQA? Why, yes, I do!)
On a side note, there is also an article about Ontario wineries that are going “green” - “The Greening of Ontario”. Wineries are reducing their environment impact by using alternatives to pesticides, reducing bottle weight, reducing waste and using geothermal energy to heat/cool buildings. There are even organic wines! It’s always nice to learn of different industries going “green”.