Starting May 1, VQA wines will be sold at markets across the province.
As of this Thursday, you’ll be able to grab a bottle of Niagara Reisling and a bushel of Ontario rhubarb at one and the same place, thanks to a new program that will allow the sale of Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines at Ontario farmers’ markets. VQA wines are made entirely from Ontario-grown grapes.
About 20 wineries are already slated to set up shop, says Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Mark Cripps. In order to participate, wineries have to apply for a special permit through the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario—the body that’s implementing the two-year pilot program.
Patrons aren’t the only ones likely to appreciate this new arrangement. Robert Chorney, executive director of Farmers’ Markets Ontario, cites the limited space available on LCBO shelves as one reason Ontario vineyards will benefit from extra farmers’ market revenue. Local wineries, he says, “need all the help they can get.”
Chorney acknowledges it’s still not clear how many farmers’ markets will end up participating—but some will have local wine in stock this weekend. Starting May 3, you’ll find Southbrook Vineyards at the St. Lawrence Market and Tawse Winery at Evergreen Brick Works.