FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2019
Prince Edward County –Wineries, cideries and distilleries in the Quinte region will benefit from Ontario’s investment in a one-year transition fund of over $15 million to support its beverage alcohol sector.
Today, Todd Smith, the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and MPP for Bay of Quinte, welcomed Minister of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman to Sophiasburgh’s Three Dog Winery to announce the funding. It will allow wineries, cideries, and distilleries to continue to grow and meet consumer demand while the government reviews programs supporting the sector.
“Prince Edward County’s burgeoning wine industry and craft beverage producers across the Quinte region have become tremendous drivers of economic development and tourism for this part of Ontario,” said Smith. “I’m pleased that Minister Hardeman has come through with this vital transitional funding while our government reviews additional measures to help this sector grow and thrive.”
Hardeman indicated the transition funding would 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.
In addition to the funding, Hardeman noted the government is proposing further changes to cut red tape for the sector, making it easier for businesses to market their products by:
- Giving wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries with a “By the Glass” licence the flexibility to extend their service hours from 9 a.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.
“Our government’s priority is to make Ontario more competitive, and this includes strengthening the craft producers’ sector,” said Hardeman.
“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.”
These changes reflect the government’s commitment to improving choice and convenience for consumers, creating more opportunities for businesses, and reducing regulatory burden on alcohol producers in the province.
Additionally, these improvements are part of Ontario’s Open for Business approach that focus on support to help grow the industry, including the wine and grape sector and the fast-growing craft beer, cider and distillery sectors.
- 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.
- VQA Wines (www.vqaontario.ca)
- Ontario Craft Cider Association (www.ontariocraftcider.com)
- Ontario wines at farmers’ markets (www.ontario.ca/travel-and-recreation/buy-ontario-wine-local-farmers-market)
- Responsible hosting (www.lcbo.com/content/lcbo/en/learn/responsible-hosting.html)