Grape Growers of Ontario raise a glass to a record harvest

TORONTO, Jan. 15, 2014 /CNW/ - Grape Growers of Ontario are raising a glass to toast the record grape harvest and celebrate this winter's Icewine harvest.

"Ontario's grape harvest set records this past autumn. It's another superb harvest and it's promising in terms of the quality of the grapes," said Grape Growers of Ontario Chair Bill George.

Mr. George's comments came as the Grape Growers of Ontario, joined by Premier Kathleen Wynne and Tracy MacCharles, Minister of Consumer Services, released the harvest results at the Queen's Quay LCBO store in Toronto today, with an Icewine tasting sampled from an "Icewine Luge".  The 2013 harvest is a record-breaking 79,756 tonnes of grapes, valued at $99.7 million.  These grapes will produce enough wine to create the equivalent of 1,134 Olympic ice rink surfaces.

"Ontario's grape growers know that great wine starts with quality grapes," says Mr. George.  "Growers are proud to grow the grapes that go into Ontario and VQA wines."

As well, over 6,000 tonnes of grapes were netted in the autumn and left to be harvested for Ontario's celebrated Icewine production.  Authentic Icewine grapes must be frozen on the vine at a sustained temperature of minus 8 degrees Celsius or lower, and pressed immediately while still frozen. This winter's icy weather has provided several nights of ideal temperatures for Icewine harvest. Celebrate the harvest at the Niagara Icewine Festival from January 10-26 with wine and food pairings, winery discovery passes and family-friendly, outdoor Ice Street Villages. For more information, visit

"Grape growers are optimistic about the success of our industry and attribute that success to our partnership with the Ontario government, the LCBO, our industry partners, and most of all, wine lovers from right across Ontario and the world," says Debbie Zimmerman, Chief Executive Officer, Grape Growers of Ontario.

"I want to congratulate Ontario's grape growers on a record harvest for 2013," said Kathleen Wynne, Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food. "I'm committed to supporting this innovative industry and I encourage consumers to choose Ontario wines throughout the year. Strengthening the grape and wine industry is part of the Ontario government's economic plan to create jobs and support a dynamic and innovative business climate."

Over 14,000 Ontario jobs are tied to the continued success of 100% Ontario-grown wines and the 17,000 acres of vineyards that are now in place across the province. 

(See backgrounder)


About the Grape Growers of Ontario:

The Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization representing more than 500 grape growers of 17,000 acres of vineyards located in one of the cool climate viticulture areas in the world — an area that includes the Niagara Region, Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore and the emerging Norfolk County.

Quick Facts

  • Ontario is the largest wine region in Canada and is on the same latitude as Burgundy in France.
  • Ontario is known around the world for its Icewine.  As a cool climate region, Ontario's growers also excel in the aromatic white varietals of Chardonnay and Riesling, and red varietals such as Merlot, Pinot Noir and Cabernet.
  • Icewine is most often made from Vidal grapes, but there are many selections using vinifera varieties such as Cabernet Franc and Riesling.
  • Ontario's 2013 grape harvest is 79,756 tonnes of grapes with farm gate value of $99.7 million dollars, up from last year's 66,014 tonne crop and $88.6 million farm gate value.
  • Ontario's 2013 grape harvest will produce enough wine to create the equivalent of 1,134 Olympic ice rink surfaces.
  • VQA wine is made of 100 % Ontario-grown grapes.
  • Ontario VQA wine sales have reached almost 16 million litres and $268 million in sales annually and represent more than 10 per cent of the wine sold in the province.
  • About 6,000 tonnes of Icewine grapes have been harvested from the 2013 vintage, which may produce 900,000 – 960,000 litres of Icewine.
  • Over 14,000 Ontario jobs are tied to the continued success of 100 % Ontario-grown wines.*
  • The wine made from Ontario's grapes generates $593 million in wages and $3.3 billion in economic impact.*  
    *Source: 2013 Report, Canada' Wine Economy – Ripe Robust Remarkable", by Rimerman.

LCBO provides a number of supports for Ontario wine.  Details are available at

SOURCE: Grape Growers of Ontario

For further information: Grape Growers of Ontario: Debbie Zimmerman, CEO, 905 401-2471,; Bill George, Chair, 905 984-0994

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Grape Growers of Ontario

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