Oh Canada! As the consumer learns more about their wine regions, it gets better and better.
Folks sometimes bring up "Cellared in Canada" issue when it comes to Canadian wines...
The "Cellared in Canada" label; When you saw that on a wine bottle it meant Canadian wine producers can import pre-fermented grape must from grapes grown in other countries to produce wines under their own wine label. They’re designated on the label as being made or "cellared" in Canada, even though they may contain no Canadian-grown grapes. Which is very misleading.
Can you imagine wines from Washington State, California, South Africa, Argentina and Chile being called Canadian just. It’s just a good idea to know where the juice come from. But that was the way to get affordable wine too people. It’s just the way it is; sometimes. because they’re “Cellared” inside Canada; meaning basically just stored in the country. It’s just odd. It’s not clear cut to the average consumer and these wines are often sold in government-run liquor stores.
Times are changing, but what’s this really all about…
The "Cellared in Canada" mark was coined in the early days of the Canadian wine industry in the 1980s and during this time grape growers received incentives to pull out existing plantings of Vitis labrusca and replace them with Vitis vinifera, which of is more suitable for winemaking.
So what happened???
There is an advantage to the producer. Wine producers who use the "Cellared in Canada" designation claim that it is a dynamic business component that permits them to compete in the "under $10" price category for table wines
Further, wine can be made at potentially lower production costs using imported grapes when compared with locally grown Canadian grapes and "Cellared in Canada" practice became a necessity due to the fact of the country having way too many grapes planted near the lakes and growers charging inflated prices which makes it hard to compete in the marketplace. That so called “Lake Effect” affects wine quality as well. It has happened in other regions.
A couple very important things came about…
1. On June 30, 1999, the Canadian wine industry announced the formal establishment of Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) of Canada (It’s just had its 15th anniversary). VQA is about place. Which is great. It is comparable to other regulatory classifications in place in countries like France (AOC), Italy (DOC), and Germany (QmP)
2. In the fall of 2009, local and international criticism of the "Cellared in Canada" practice developed. Grape growers in Ontario began complaining and objecting to the practice as a hazard to their means of support and employment, claiming that thousands of tons of Canadian grapes were left rotting on the vine because producers were using imported grapes to make wine labeled as "Canadian"
WINE CONTENT AND LABELLING ACT, 2000 was eventually amended as follows:
A winery that uses imported grapes or grape product in the manufacture of wine shall, in manufacturing all such wine during a year, use an average of 40 per cent of grapes grown in Ontario or grape product produced from such grapes to which no water has been added at any time, for wine that is packaged on or after September 1, 2010.
In Ontario as of April 1, 2014, the wineries which existed prior to 1993 will be allowed to produce "International - Canadian blends" which contain no more than 75% foreign content (meaning that they in fact contain only 25% Ontario wine, which may be from labrusca varieties). Historically, this percentage has fluctuated wildly, due to periodic shortages and surpluses of Ontario grapes, and lobbying by both the grape growers and the producers.
I hope this helps in understanding a little bit more about Canadian wine .