Home Page Election 2019 News Opinion Foreign Policy Politics Policy Legislation Lobbying Hill Life & People Hill Climbers Heard On The Hill Calendar Archives Classifieds
Hill Times Events Inside Ottawa Directory Hill Times Store Hill Times Careers The Wire Report The Lobby Monitor Parliament Now
Subscribe Free Trial Reuse & Permissions Advertising
Log In

Raise a glass to Canadian wine

By Asha Hingorani      

Impressing palates for more than 200 years.

Canada's domestic wine industry helps support more than 37,000 jobs and is motivation for more than 3.7 million tourists visiting Canadian wineries each year.
Share a story
The story link will be added automatically.

Sipping on a glass of wine, a pint of beer or a wee dram of scotch has been part of Canada’s culture for the past 150 years. During this time, the value-added production of beverage alcohol from farm to glass has evolved, but its linkages with gastronomy, history, tradition, origin, local quality products and social settings remain a part of everyday life for the vast majority of Canadians.

The wine industry is unique. It is rooted in Canadian soil. The workers can’t simply rip out their vines and move elsewhere. Vintners are bound to the land—the terroir. Our diverse geographical landscape is what sets us apart in the global wine economy. In fact, Canada’s wine industry has a deep history pre-dating Canada’s constitution.

In 1811 in Cooksville, Ont., the first commercial vineyards opened, and in 1871 Vin Villa, Canada’s first estate winery opened on Pelee Island in Ontario. Following the dark ages of prohibition that swept across the country from 1901-1930, in 1932 Calona Wines, the first winery in British Columbia, opened in Kelowna. Forty years later and on the East Coast, in 1972 the first commercial vineyards were planted in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, building a foundation for years of culinary pleasure and tourism to come.

In 1989-1990, the development of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), a regulatory appellation system guaranteeing quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines, was adopted in Ontario and British Columbia. Shortly after, in 1991, Ontario-based Inniskillin became the first Canadian winery to win a major international award in Bordeaux, France, thus placing an international spotlight on Canadian ice wine, now our largest export.

Fast forward to 2017: the Canadian wine industry is made up of almost 700 grape wineries and 1,300 independent grape growers, contributing $9-billion to the national economy. Each grape-growing region is unique, with their own marketing bodies such as the British Columbia Wine Institute, the Wine Association of Nova Scotia and the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario (to name a few) that drive tourism and provide provincial and federal contact.

Grapes and wine are a prime example of success for Canada’s value-added agri-food industry. From vineyard development and grape cultivation to winemaking and bottling, our compounded impact extends well-beyond cellar door sales and employment, with strong links to tourism, retail sales, bars and restaurants across Canada. As a result, the domestic wine industry helps support more than 37,000 jobs and is motivation for more than 3.7 million tourists visiting Canadian wineries each year.

Unfortunately, depending on your geographical location, interprovincial barriers continue to be an obstacle to Canadians wanting to have wine shipped from our wine-thriving provinces. British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia are the only jurisdictions in Canada that have permitted inter-provincial wine delivery.

This means that only 19 per cent of Canadians can legally order award-winning Canadian wines delivered to their out-of-province home. These are wines that are not readily available
in liquor retail stores in their home province.

In its June 2016 report Tear Down These Walls: Dismantling Canada’s Internal Trade Barriers, the Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce identified wine as number three on its top list of barriers to trade, and called for the removal of internal barriers by July 1, 2017. In light of the Canada Free Trade Agreement, finalized in early 2017, provincial premiers have agreed to a working group on the interprovincial trade of alcohol with the goal of creating a more open domestic market. What could be a perfect gift to celebrate our 150th birthday?!

Asha’s wine picks

Politics This Morning

Get the latest news from The Hill Times

Politics This Morning


Your email has been added. An email has been sent to your address, please click the link inside of it to confirm your subscription.

Wilson-Raybould reflects on reconciliation, SNC-Lavalin affair in new book

News|By Palak Mangat
At more than 200 pages, Jody Wilson-Raybould’s book draws on speeches, lectures, and other pieces on Indigenous issues she’s penned over the last 10 years.

Liberals gambling on help from provinces to fulfill new daycare promise

The $535-million pledged won’t cover all of the costs of the Liberals’ promised daycare reforms.

‘I didn’t think it was racist at the time,’ says apologetic PM, confirming he will not step down amid scathing ‘brownface’ Time report

News|By Mike Lapointe
The Prime Minister, who told reporters he only found out the story was breaking hours before, says he's 'going to be asking Canadians to forgive me for what I did.'

Pakistani envoy urges Canada, world to be ‘more forceful’ with India on ‘humanitarian disaster’ in Kashmir

Pakistan has ‘regularly’ raised the issue with Canadian counterparts, says Raza Bashir Tarar, but the ‘festering’ situation in the ‘highly charged’ region is only getting worse.

First debate a dress rehearsal PM hopefuls needed to prepare for prime time, say pundits

One thing is clear, marketing experts say Andrew Scheer will have to be more animated when he debates against Justin Trudeau, especially with his former leadership rival, Maxime Bernier, now in the mix.

Liberal, Conservative campaigns ‘at war,’ Scheer ‘vigorously swinging to land a punch’ on Trudeau: pollster

News|By Abbas Rana
It's only week two of the campaign and already the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, and the Greens have all had to drop candidates over offensive or controversial past remarks.

Powerful Senate committee owes public answers on harassment plans, Meredith report, say Independents

Conservative Sen. Denise Batters says it was necessary to discuss matters in private to protect the confidentiality of victims, while Independents say it would have been possible to strike a balance and be transparent.

Savoie’s new ‘magnum opus’ book argues federal public service has been ‘knocked off its moorings’

News|By Mike Lapointe
A culmination of three years of work, the book takes stock of challenges facing Canadian democracy, including the decline of Cabinet government, centralization of the PMO, and 'fault lines' in the public service.

Arctic policy framework released ‘last minute’ ahead of October election, say experts

News|By Neil Moss
Liberal MP Larry Bagnell says he thinks the timing wasn't due to the federal government's framework on the Arctic and Canada's North being rushed, but rather waiting on territorial partners co-developing the package.
Your group subscription includes premium access to Politics This Morning briefing.