Multi Appellation Labelling
VQA regulations have changed to permit the use of multiple appellations to describe a wine under limited conditions
Under the old VQA rules, wines that blend content from different appellations had to "declassify" the wine to the next largest appellation that applies. For example, a blend of Lake Erie North Shore and Niagara Peninsula grapes could only refer to the appellation Ontario or a blend of Lincoln Lakeshore and Four Mile Creek could use only Niagara Peninsula or Ontario. The rules prohibited the use of multiple appellations to describe a wine.
Effective January 1, 2013, multiple appellations may be listed on a wine label as part of a truthful, accurate description of content for most wines under the following conditions:
- The official appellation for which the wine qualifies must appear on the principal display panel (existing rules)
- The component appellations of the wine may be listed on the label (or in any off-label description) if all components are included in descending order and accurate percentages are listed
- No other reference to an appellation for which the wine does not qualify may be made on the label, signage, advertising, descriptions or other use that is associated with a specific wine
Wines that are declassified to "Ontario" for reasons of brix, hybrid content or method of production are not be eligible to use more specific appellation terms or multi-appellation labelling to declare the content of the wine.
For example, a blend of Lake Erie North Shore and Niagara Peninsula grapes may now state 60% Lake Erie North Shore, 40% Niagara Peninsula in addition to the declaration VQA Ontario VQA. A blend of 10% Lincoln Lakeshore and 90% Four Mile Creek may declare this in addition to the declaration "VQA Niagara Peninsula VQA". Statements such as “this wine contains 50% Prince Edward County grapes and 50% Niagara Peninsula grapes” will be allowed.
The VQA Act and regulations prohibit all use of appellation terms in association with a wine that does not qualify for the stated term. In conjunction with this regulation change, VQA Ontario will be strictly enforcing this requirement to reduce the potentially misleading use of protected appellation terms. Beginning with the 2013 vintage, any and all use of appellation terms on the label or directly associated with a wine that does not qualify for the term will be prohibited. This will require the removal of all descriptive text such as "visit our winery in Beamsville Bench" or “our winemaker hails from Prince Edward County” for wines that do not qualify for the stated appellation. Terms used in recognized postal addresses will continue to be exempt.
New federal rules in effect August 4, 2012
Health Canada has issued further information on the implementation of new allergen labelling regulations which take effect August 4, 2012. Wines that contain allergens such as sulphites, milk, fish, egg or wheat must carry an allergen warning.
It will not be required to list egg, fish and milk allergens used as fining agents if the wine is filtered in accordance with good manufacturing practices. Unfiltered wines treated with these agents will have to list eggs, fish or milk, unless it can be shown that there is no residual protein remaining in the final wine product.
Health Canada has advised that wines carrying a vintage date of 2011 or earlier will be exempt from sulphite or egg, fish and milk allergen labelling. All wines with a vintage date of 2012 or later will have to meet the new labelling rules. Please review the letter from Health Canada (click here) and the related regulations posted on the website of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
For more information read the GUIDANCE FOR THE FINING OF WINE AND THE LABELLING OF FINED WINES (July 2012) document from the Canadian Vintners Association
Update on Proposed Packaging Regulation Changes
These changes are approved and in effect as of July 1, 2012. Please see the updated regulation accessible under “Regulations - Wine Standards” and the Regulation & Changes section below for further detail.
VQA Ontario will recommend to the Ontario government that changes be made to the packaging regulations for VQA wines. The recommendation is subject to a regulatory posting and review process and regulation changes will not take effect unless and until they are approved by the Minister of Consumer Services. A notice will be sent out announcing the effective date, if approved.
VQA Ontario has been discussing expanding packaging options for some time as a result of member requests for change and as part of a long term strategic review of the VQA regulations. We received broad based input from wineries at Annual Meetings in 2010 and 2011 and during a formal request for comment in the fall of 2011. A large majority of wineries support at least a limited expansion of packaging options for VQA wines. This is a significant evolution in the VQA regulations and we are grateful for the feedback and suggestions that many of you provided.
Considering the comments received, and after significant deliberation on the impact of the changes for VQA wines and the appellation system as a whole, the Board of Directors has decided to recommend that a full range of alternative packaging be allowed for wines that are designated with the "Ontario" appellation. No change will be made to glass bottle requirements for wine labelled with a viticultural area, sub-appellation or single vineyard. This will mean any VQA wine could be eligible to use non-glass packages if the wine is labelled only with the Ontario appellation.
This will provide an opportunity for innovation within the VQA framework and the flexibility to participate in markets that may be better served with alternative packaging. At the same time, it recognizes that premium wines of more specific origin are associated with traditional packaging that is more suitable for aging.
The following packages will be allowed after the effective date:
For all VQA wines:
Only for VQA wines that are labelled "VQA Ontario VQA":
- PET containers
- Aluminum containers (lined with appropriate food grade material)
- Multi-layer containers, with or without a box or other outer container (this category includes pouches, bag-in-box, bags enclosed in wood, steel or other outer containers, aseptic packages such as tetra-paks)
- Stainless steel containers (kegs or similar with dispensing systems and closures designed to preserve the quality of the wine)
All packaging will be subject to generally accepted good manufacturing practices and require package performance and closures that are appropriate for wine. A legible and easily understood packaging date will be required on the label of all non-glass packages.
Some things to note:
All wines labelled with viticultural area names (Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, and Prince Edward County), sub-appellations, vineyard names or estate bottled must continue to be packaged in glass bottles. No mention of appellation names other than Ontario will be permitted on the label of a wine in alternative packaging, in any context.
Wines that qualify for a more specific appellation can be declassified to the Ontario appellation. Certain wines, such as Icewine and Traditional Method sparkling wine cannot be declassified to the Ontario appellation so will not be eligible for packages other than glass bottles.
The same wine may be packaged in two different formats, as long as the non-glass format carries the less specific appellation of Ontario on the label.
All packages must comply with VQA labelling regulations and labels must be submitted for approval by VQA Ontario. Packages sold to licensees must be properly labelled.
Federal rules apply to the size of all wine containers. The maximum legal package size for sale to a consumer is 4 litres. For the purpose of sale to a licensee who will resell the wine, sizes up to 20 litres will be permitted for VQA wines.
Regulations & Changes
Amendments to VQA Regulation 406 effect as of July 1, 2012
VQA wines that use the appellation of origin “Ontario” may be packaged in containers other than glass bottles. The change does not apply to wines that use more specific claims of origin regulated by VQA Ontario such as Niagara Peninsula, Beamsville Bench, Lake Erie North Shore or Prince Edward County. These wines will continue to be packaged in glass bottles.
The alternative containers include stainless steel kegs and containers made of aluminum, plastic (PET), or multi layer containers such as TetraPak or bag-in-box. These containers may be used under the following conditions:
- The geographical indication on the container must be “Ontario”
- The date on which the container was filled must appear on the container in plain language format
- The packaging must comply with the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act (Canada)
- The wine shall be packaged in accordance with good manufacturing practices appropriate to the container used
- The container must be closed with a tamper evident seal that preserves the quality of the wine
- Reasonable efforts must be made to monitor the shelf life of the wine and manage inventory to ensure that quality is maintained up to the point of sale
VQA logo now optional on package
Wineries now have the option to label VQA wine bottles (or containers) without the VQA logo on the package if they increase the declared appellation size, including the VQA letters, to a size of 3.2 mm or larger. The appellation declaration must appear on the principal display panel.
Authorized Grape Varieties
Sauvignon Blanc has been added to list of approved varieties for Aromatic Sparkling wines.
For more information please see the full text of Regulation 406.
If you have any questions regarding implementation of these changes, please contact the VQA Ontario office at 416-367-2002 or email us at email@example.com.
Notice from LCBO Quality Assurance Laboratory
Independent Analytical Services
The LCBO Laboratory offers analytical services directly to VQA wineries for purposes outside of the VQA approval process. This might include additional testing for VQA wines that is not covered in the VQA process or testing at stages before or after the wine is in the approval phase. LCBO provides a full analytical service as well as sensory analysis and label review services.
For those using this service, or who may use it in future, please note that LCBO now requires samples be accompanied by a submission form that specifies the client needs for analysis. More information is available at the LCBO Trade webpage.
A special note on Total Acidity tests for the purpose of completing the VI-1 form (export certification for European destinations)
TA tests to be used for export certification should be requested through VQA Ontario so that the test results can be linked to the appropriate VQA wine ID. VI-1 certificates are issued by VQA Ontario and the process requires testing data to be drawn from the VQA Wine Approvals database. Ideally, wineries should request Total Acidity testing at the time of the approval application if the wine is intended for export to Europe. Online requests can also be made after the approval is completed by logging into the general information page for the particular wine.