The Ontario Government is investing in the province’s small wineries, cideries and distilleries to strengthen the province’s beverage alcohol sector, and ensuring it can continue to grow and meet consumer demand.
Today, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman, was joined by MPP for Niagara West, Sam Oosterhoff to announce a one-year transition funding of over $15 million dollars. This investment will help small wineries, cideries and distilleries with key business decisions and planning while the government continues to conduct its review of the beverage alcohol sector.
This transition funding will also extend support to the following initiatives:
- The Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Wine Support Program to help Ontario wineries increase competitiveness and innovation. The program supports wineries investing in growing their VQA wine business, including tourism development activities.
- The Small Cidery and Small Distillery Support Program to help eligible businesses grow and scale up their operations.
- Marketing, Tourism and Export Development; Performance Measurement and Research and Development Initiatives.
Minister Hardeman also announced that the government is making further changes to reduce red tape for the sector, making it easier for wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries to market their products:
- Giving wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries with a “By the Glass” licence the flexibility to extend the allowed service hours from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m., seven days a week.
- Allowing authorized wineries to sell their wine at farmers’ markets and return unsold products to their on-site retail store within a 72-hour period. The previous 24-hour period forced wineries to bring products back and forth over the course of the weekend which made retailing at farmers’ markets not economically viable.
These changes reflect the government’s commitment to providing more choice and convenience for consumers, creating further opportunities for businesses, and reducing regulatory burden on craft producers in the province.
Additionally, these improvements are part of Ontario’s Open for Business approach that focus on helping to grow the industry, including the wine and grape sector, as well as the fast-growing craft beer, cider and distillery sectors.
“Our government’s priority is to make Ontario more competitive, and this includes strengthening the craft producers’ sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “By delivering these transition programs, we are recognizing the urgent needs of the industry and helping small and medium-sized wineries, cideries and distilleries scale up, drive tourism, and increase demand for quality Ontario grapes, apples and grains.”
“Ontario’s beverage alcohol sector is an integral part of our province’s economy,” said Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance. “This investment demonstrates our commitment to working closely with the wine and cider industry to identify opportunities for growth for their businesses.”
“Today’s announcement is yet another indicator that our government is making Ontario Open for Business,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “We’re helping the sector by removing obstacles to growth, assisting our businesses as they compete in a global marketplace, and giving hardworking Ontarians greater opportunities for success in the process.”
“I’m proud to be part of a government that is reducing the regulatory burden for the craft wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries sector,” said MPP Oosterhoff. “These changes will help tourism, expand marketing opportunities for small businesses and will assist in keeping and creating good jobs for people right here in West Niagara and across the province.”
“As producers of VQA wines who compete with the best in the world, we love what we do, and we are proud of the jobs and opportunities we are creating to help build Ontario’s agricultural and tourism sectors,” said Len Pennachetti, Chair of Ontario Craft Wineries. “Today’s announcement gives wineries the certainty they need to continue to create top-quality products that consumers want – all while supporting rural economies and small businesses throughout Ontario. We will continue to work with the Ontario government on longer-term solutions that help ensure farmers, workers and winemakers thrive for years to come.”
- The wine and grape sector contributes $515 million to Ontario’s GDP and supports more than 9,000 direct jobs.
- Grape production from almost 500 Ontario growers is used to make award-winning Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines, which had $374 million in sales in 2018-19.
- Recently, Ken Hughes, Special Advisor to the Minister of Finance for the Beverage Alcohol Review, released a report detailing the inconvenience and unfairness of the current beverage alcohol system for everyday Ontario consumers. A key recommendation was to promote competition, establish fairness for everyone and provide new economic opportunities for businesses across the province.