Ontario's Grape Harvest...
I don't support the change in rules..but look at the reason.
If Ontario wineries and grape growers have their way, you will soon be able to buy a bottle of wine with a local label but no local content.The cold??? Gee, whatever happened to global warming????
That's because the two groups want to shake up wine content rules and tweak LCBO signage in an effort to cope with a winter-ravaged yield.
The goal is to prop up the VQA-approved, 100-per-cent-made-in-Ontario brands. To do that, wineries propose that they should be allowed to devote more of their scarce grapes to those higher-profile, pricier brands and less to their blended varieties.
The plan is to lower the amount of Ontariograpes required for blended brands from 30 per cent to zero. That means that a bottle of wine from an Ontario vintner could be made entirely of foreign grapes.
"We want to try and keep as much high-quality VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wines on the shelf as possible. It's certainly going to help us in terms of brand perception," said Norm Beal, chair of the Wine Council of Ontario, which represents dozens of wineries.
But the vintners and growers only want the change to last one year, to apply to the 2005 vintage bottles that will hit shelves early in 2006. After that, the minimum blend requirements would return to 30 per cent Ontario grapes.
Blended brands typically sell for $7 to $9 per bottle while "Ontario's best" VQA bottles fetch $12 to $20, Beal noted.
To earn VQA designation, an "Ontario" wine must be made with 100 per cent domestic grapes and pass muster with an independent panel of tasters.
"Our stand on that is we want to preserve as many of our grapes for VQA. We've had good growth in that category and we see that as the future of the grape-growing industry," said Ray Duc, head of the Grape Growers of Ontario. "Had we gone to 20 per cent or 10 per cent, we would have blended away a lot of our grapes. The Ontario characteristic would have been completely lost."
The wine council estimates the cold decimated this year's provincial grape crop from more than 50,000 tonnes to about 21,000 tonnes.