Monday, March 29, 2010

What In Blazes Is VQA?

If you enjoy wines from Ontario, chances are you will come across the VQA Ontario designation. What exactly is it?

In short, it is the label of quality, similar to the systems in use in European counties. Quality wine in France is marked AOC and in Italy DOCG. The Vintners Quality Alliance Act was approved in Ontario in 2000. The VQA label indicates that the wine meets certain standards in production and marketing. The VQA system was established:

•To establish, monitor and enforce an appellation of origin system that allows consumers to identify wines on the basis of the area where the grapes are grown, the methods used in making the wine and other quality standards;

•To control the use of specified terms, descriptions and designations associated with the VQA appellation system – by both VQA wines and non-VQA wines made in Ontario;

Ontario has four primary Viticultural Areas or appellations of origin: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island and Prince Edward County. Within the Niagara Peninsula appellation, decades of grape growing experience and extensive geographical research has identified ten distinct growing areas. These sub-appellations include areas on the plains close to Lake Ontario and the benchlands of the Niagara Escarpment. There are nine appelations in Canada and they account for 98% of the fine wine produced in the country.

VQA Ontario’s long term strategic goal is to build a strong and credible appellation system, supported by quality and label integrity, and to raise the recognition and knowledge of each of Ontario’s wine appellations and their unique features.

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