Vintners Quality Alliance

Vintners Quality Alliance, or VQA, is a regulatory and appellation system which guarantees the high quality and authenticity of origin for Canadian wines made under that system in British Columbia and Ontario. It is similar to regulatory systems in France (AOC), Spain (DO), Italy (DOC), and Germany (QmP). The VQA system allows for sub-appellations, by which the grapes for wines are sourced from extremely specific geographical locations with different soil and climate. This is in accordance with the concept of terroir.[1]

The VQA label on a bottle of Canadian icewine.

In addition, there are other classifications of wine in Canada. British Columbia has a category known as "Wines of Distinction", Nova Scotia has "Wines of Nova Scotia" and Quebec has "Vins du Québec". All must be 100 percent made from grapes grown in British Columbia, Nova Scotia or Quebec, respectively. Cellared in Canada is a completely separate category.[2]


An Ontario vineyard in the Niagara Peninsula regional appellation.

In addition to the requirements regarding sources of grapes, VQA wines may be made from Vitis vinifera grape variety and approved hybrid varieties. In British Columbia, VQA wines are made primarily with vinifera grapes, while Ontario uses a range of vinifera varieties and notably permits the use of Vidal, particularly in the production of some of Canada's icewines.[3]

VQA wines may be made with grapes from relatively small agricultural yields per vine (which increases quality), they meet specific sugar or brix levels at harvest, and the use of additives is regulated. There are also standards regulating the use of certain types of packaging and closures. To receive the VQA designation, wine must undergo testing by the regulating bodies. The VQA logo does not have a standard location on the bottle, and for some VQA wines the producer has chosen not to display the logo at all. If a consumer wishes to purchase wine from 100% Canadian grapes, extra care must be taken to ensure that the wine is what they believe it to be, and not an "International Canadian blend" (formerly known as "Cellared in Canada").


Ontario appellations and sub-appellationsEdit

Total production for Ontario appellation wines is approximately 20,000 tonnes.

  • Regional Appellations:
    • Regional Appellation - Lake Erie North Shore
    • Regional Appellation - Prince Edward County
    • Regional Appellation - Niagara Peninsula (includes all appellations below, Canada's largest)
      • Collective sub-appellation - Niagara Escarpment (includes the 3 sub-appellations below)
      • Collective sub-appellation - Niagara-on-the-Lake (includes the 4 sub-appellations immediately below)
        • Sub-appellation - Niagara River
        • Sub-appellation - Niagara Lakeshore
        • Sub-appellation - Four Mile Creek
        • Sub-appellation - St. David’s Bench
      • Sub-appellation - Vinemount Ridge
      • Sub-appellation - Creek Shores
      • Sub-appellation - Lincoln Lakeshore
Vineyard in the Okanagan regional appellation of British Columbia.

British Columbia appellationsEdit

(total production for 2012 27,000+ tons)

The Golden Mile is Sub-appellation of the Okanagan Valley



Canadian wine from British Columbia.

Marketing & AdvocacyEdit

Other organizationsEdit


  1. ^ J. Robinson (ed) "The Oxford Companion to Wine" Third Edition pg 759 Oxford University Press 2006 ISBN 0-19-860990-6
  2. ^ G. Hamiliton "Sale of cheap imports as B.C. wines called 'scandalous'[permanent dead link]" National Post Vancouver Sun, September 20th, 2009.
  3. ^ J. Gordon (ed) Opus Vino pg 126-130, DK Publishing New York 2010, ISBN 978-0-7566-6751-1

External linksEdit