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Ontario wine industry eyes substantial growth in tourism, investment and jobs

Ontario winemakers and grape growers see a future where their products will be the leading choice among wine consumers in this province, with more than three million tourists visiting Ontario’s wine regions each year to enjoy world class wines and hospitality, a Wine Marketing Association of Ontario news release says.

Ontario’s VQA wine and grape industry’s newly released 2030 Vision anticipates substantial growth in this important sector of the provincial economy, fuelling increases in investment, market share, jobs and related tourism.

“The growing recognition of the quality of Ontario VQA wines, the excellence of our wine country tourism experiences and the opportunities for growth will combine to take our world class industry to another level, with premium wine at the centre of a thriving economy and culture,” say Del Rollo, chair of Wine Growers Ontario.

Ontario wine

Among the projected growth targets within the next seven years, the 2030 Vision foresees:

• More than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ontario’s grape and wine production, tourism and hospitality sectors;
• Annual Ontario VQA wine sales of more than half a billion dollars (up from $385 million per year currently), with all-channel share of Ontario’s wine market growing by 20 per cent (from current 13 per cent);
• Three million annual visitors to Ontario’s wine regions (up from 2.6 million today);
• A 75 per cent increase in capital investment by Ontario wine producers, with 4 million new vines planted over 20,000 acres.

A summary of Ontario’s VQA Wine & Grape Industry – 2030 Vision is available here.

To accomplish those goals, the industry will invest in and nurture Ontario wine culture, the news release says.

Two foundational factors will drive the evolution over the coming eight years, according to the news release:

• First, success will occur when the consumer is the singular focus, exceeding their wants and their needs.
• Secondly, establish a unified industry voice to advocate for improved consumer and producer outcomes — with governments, with regulators and with sales channel partners.

Those two VQA industry initiatives are the foundation that will support success in having a more engaged consumer, delivering increased sales and a more financially sustainable and successful VQA industry, the news release says.

 “Are these ambitious goals? They are, but they are absolutely achievable,” says Carolyn Hurst, chair of Ontario Craft Wineries. “To get there, we need to come together – the grape and wine industry, our culinary and hospitality partners, and government.”

VQA wines are made with 100 per cent Ontario-grown grapes. Ontario has 18,000 acres under vine and has grown to 191 VQA wineries, concentrated in the Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore. Advanced cool-climate viticultural research and technologies support emerging wine regions across the province of Ontario in Norfolk and Haldimand Counties, Central Ontario and Georgian Bay, Huron Shores and Eastern Ontario.

The Ontario wine industry contributed $5.5 billion annually to the province’s economy. In 2019, 22,000 full time equivalent jobs were supported in the agriculture, food and beverage, hospitality, tourism, education, and research sectors.

“From Niagara to Prince Edward County, to the Lake Erie North Shore to the emerging new regions, now is the time for Ontario to truly take its place as one of the world’s great wine destinations, respected globally, and enjoyed and celebrated locally,” Hurst said.

About the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario

The Wine Marketing Association of Ontario is dedicated to promoting the VQA Wines of Ontario – both the vintners and the unique qualities of our authentic VQA wines that are made exclusively from 100% Ontario-grown grapes. Wine Country Ontario is dedicated to promoting Ontario’s wine-growing regions – from the wines and wineries themselves to the complete experience of each destination: local cuisine, year-round activities, and warm hospitality. Wine Country Ontario is a brand trademark of the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario.

— Information provided by the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario