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Disaster averted as government extends needed funding for Ontario Wine Country

Ontario’s grape and wine industry received some welcomed news in Thursday’s budget from the Ontario government — the VQA wine support program and COVID recovery funding were both extended.

Note: Also in this report, how you can join the #30DaysofVQA celebration in May.

Ontario committed to expanding funding for the VQA support program through 2024/25, renewed the $10 million COVID recovery fund for wine and cider, and vowed to continue working with the wine industry to ensure long-term success.

Ontario wine

“Our winery members are grateful to the Ontario government for today’s budget announcement,” said Carolyn Hurst, above, chair of Ontario Craft Wineries. “Renewing the COVID recovery fund for another year will provide much needed help and relief to Ontario wineries who have been hard hit by the economic impacts of the pandemic.”

The COVID recovery program helps Ontario wineries address the challenges posed by COVID. Wineries will be able to use these funds to invest in many activities including promotion, market development and tourism recovery. The industry looks forward to continuing to work toward a focused long-term strategy so that wineries can continue to increase capital investment in local production, expand vineyard plantings, buy more grapes, hire more Ontarians, and expand rural economic development, a news release stated.

“Wine Growers Ontario is thankful that the government has committed to increased funding for the VQA wine support program and ensuring that the program is there for our industry for three more years”, said Del Rollo, chair of Wine Growers Ontario. “Focused, long-term funding is a huge relief to Ontario wineries.”

Increased funding to Ontario’s VQA wine support program will enable investments in marketing, labour, and capital. The multi-year commitment will also help Ontario wineries make multi-year plans for investment in promotion and marketing at the LCBO, a key partner in the future health of our industry.

“Our made in Ontario, locally grown and produced grape and wine industry is rooted in the land and we thank Minister Thompson and Minister Bethlenfalvy for recognizing the importance of Ontario grape growers and their vineyards as the foundation of the domestic value-chain”, said Matthias Oppenlaender, chair, Grape Growers of Ontario. “We welcome the additional stability and certainty for our sector that will come from today’s budget, which supports our wineries, encourages the purchase of Ontario grapes for our domestically grown wines, and has signaled the right direction for our industry for the long term.”

Celebrate 30 days of VQA in May

Wine Country Ontario is urging fans of VQA wines to celebrate their love for all things local with the launch of the #30DaysofVQA campaign on Instagram and Twitter.

There are plenty of ways consumers can celebrate #30DaysofVQA this month; here are a few suggestions:

New travel guide

Explore Ontario Wine Country from home with the 2022/23 Wine Country Ontario travel guide.

The new guide launches on May 4 and is a valuable tool for discovering new VQA wineries or revisiting old favourites. Click here to be among the first to see the new travel guide. You can also pick up a copy in the Early Summer Edition of LCBO Food and Drink Magazine. This new edition features 145 VQA wineries from across Ontario’s wine regions!

Celebrate mom with VQA

Whether you’re planning dinner at her favourite restaurant or brunch at home, don’t forget to toast the mothers in your life with a glass of Ontario wine. Click here to see how Ontario VQA wineries are helping you treat mom with special events, gifts, and promotions.

Celebrate Chardonnay Day on May 26

Join the party on May 26 — International Chardonnay Day — a day devoted to one of the most well-loved varieties in Ontario. Open a bottle of your favourite VQA Chardonnay and share what you’re sipping on social media as Chardonnay lovers both local and worldwide come together to celebrate this well-loved grape. The International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4C) returns to Niagara this year – stay tuned to @coolchardonnay for details on the return of the i4C events you love and some fresh new twists.

Note, information for this post was provided to Wines in Niagara