One of the highlights of visiting the Ontario region and Niagara in particular is a tour of its wine country. A term frequently associated with wines in this region is VQA and several wineries produce and sell wines with the VQA label. It stands for Vintners Quality Alliance and is Ontario’s and British Columbia's wine regulatory authority and appellation system. For the purposes of this article, we will be focussing on Ontario VQA.
Wines that have the VQA label assure the consumer of two important things– high quality and the appellation of origin. This means that the consumers can identify the region where the grapes originate and understand that the wines are made only from Ontario-grown grapes.
VQA Status has to be earned
Most wine growing countries have a system to identify their best wine growing regions and have a framework in place to ensure quality. Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999 enabled VQA Ontario to regulate the wines in their regions according to the framework set by them and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. To receive a VQA label, wines have to undergo extensive testing by this body. If the wineries succeed in meeting all the requirements, they get the permission to put the VQA label on their wines. Consumers know that the wine is of superior quality if it has a VQA label.
VQA Wine Term: Appellation of Origin
Each region has a unique ‘terroir’ meaning ‘sense of place’. The term refers to the fact that the wine produced in a region is a result of several factors – soil, climate, topography, etc., in short it is a product of its environment. This is the reason that wines grown in different regions have their own unique flavours which carry the essence of their place of origin. VQA Ontario guides a consumer on this appellation of origin with its label identifying the geographical location. Appellation is one of the major markers of quality in wine. The three main appellations (grape growing areas) in Ontario are:
- Lake Erie North Shore
- Niagara Peninsula
- Prince Edward County
Smaller areas within these regions are known as sub-appellations.
VQA Quality checks
VQA, as mentioned earlier, is also an indicator of high quality. The system ensures a strict regulatory check on the production of wines. Methods used to:
- produce wine
- wine testing
- labelling standards
and other checks are carried out to ensure that the wines produced are of the best quality.
While VQA Ontario monitors and regulates the wine growing regions, it does not directly market or sell the wines. However, it promotes awareness of the appellation system both within the wine industry and outside, and encourages public understanding of the value and benefits of VQA appellations and wines. It also participates in national and international events and forums for discussion on VQA wines. Ultimately, it plays a major role in helping Ontario’s wine industry, which has a history of more than 200 years, to get recognition for its own unique features and high quality.
As you can see, VQA wine is a primarily a symbol of high quality; when you see a VQA label you know that you are about to enjoy some of the best wine in the world.
The Marriott Fallsview Hotel & Spa has ties to the best wineries in the Niagara Area. You can enjoy amazing, Niagara produced VQA wine in many of our restaurants, our Lobby Lounge and in your hotel room with room service. You can also experience Niagara wineries like a true VIP, with our front of the line access and behind the scene tours of top wineries such as Inniskillin and Trius. For more information on our hotel view our: