Regulatory and institutional developments in the Ontario wine and grape industry
Richard Carew,1 Wojciech J Florkowski2
1Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre, Summerland, BC, Canada; 2Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Georgia, Griffin, GA, USA
Abstract: The Ontario wine industry has undergone major transformative changes over the last two decades. These have corresponded to the implementation period of the Ontario Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Act in 1999 and the launch of the Winery Strategic Plan, "Poised for Greatness," in 2002. While the Ontario wine regions have gained significant recognition in the production of premium quality wines, the industry is still dominated by a few large wine companies that produce the bulk of blended or "International Canadian Blends" (ICB), and multiple small/mid-sized firms that produce principally VQA wines. This paper analyzes how winery regulations, industry changes, institutions, and innovation have impacted the domestic production, consumption, and international trade, of premium quality wines. The results of the study highlight the regional economic impact of the wine industry in the Niagara region, the success of small/mid-sized boutique wineries producing premium quality wines for the domestic market, and the physical challenges required to improve domestic VQA wine retail distribution and bolster the international trade of wine exports. Domestic success has been attributed to the combination of natural endowments, entrepreneurial talent, established quality standards, and the adoption of improved viticulture practices.
Keywords: Ontario, wine, quality standards