The Ontario Government is investing in the province’s small wineries, cideries and distilleries to strengthen the province’s beverage alcohol sector, and ensuring it can continue to grow and meet consumer demand.
Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Ernie Hardeman announced a one-year transition funding of over $15 million dollars. This investment will help small wineries, cideries and distilleries with key business decisions and planning while the government continues to conduct its review of the beverage alcohol sector.
This transition funding will 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.
Minister Hardeman also announced that the government is making further changes to reduce red tape for the sector, making it easier for wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries to market their products:
- Giving wineries, cideries, breweries and distilleries with a “By the Glass” licence the flexibility to extend the allowed 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.
These changes reflect the government’s commitment to providing more choice and convenience for consumers, creating further opportunities for businesses, and reducing regulatory burden on craft producers in the province.
Additionally, these improvements are part of Ontario’s Open for Business approach that focus on helping to grow the industry, including the wine and grape sector, as well as the fast-growing craft beer, cider and distillery sectors.
“Our government’s priority is to make Ontario more competitive, and this includes strengthening the craft producers’ sector,” said Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. “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.”