With volumes down, Ontario grape growers are banking on quality
With two tough winters at their backs, Ontario grape growers are positive about the quality of the 2015 crop. At a December 4 news conference, Bill George, Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) chair, announced 52,888 tonnes of grapes harvested with a farmgate value of more than $62.38 million. Included in this tonnage are juice grapes and 4,317 tonnes left hanging on the vine for premium icewine.
These numbers are down significantly from the 2013 record harvest of 80,548 tonnes. However, individual grape growers are sharing stories of the quality of not only white varietals but the reds. Technologies such as wind machines and vineyard pruning are helping growers fight climate change.
Grape Growers of Ontario represents 500 active grape growers in three designated viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County. The industry has high levels of volunteerism and civic engagement, with calculations of 79,000 hours annually to the benefit of local communities. The statistic was sourced from a study by Betsy Donald, Queen’s University and Donald-Morrow Research titled “The Growers and the Vines: people and places behind Ontario wines.”
Several grape growers – Bill Schenck, Jamie Slingerland and Matthias Oppenlaender – testified to the involvement in their communities. These individual stories speak to the leadership skills gained in various volunteer activities which are then shared with agriculture.
Did you know?
• 10.6% of wine sold in Ontario is VQA made of 100% Ontario grapes
• 32.0% of wine sold in Ontario is International Canadian Blend
• On average, it takes the juice of 107 grapes to make one glass of wine
Ken Hunter, Hunter Farms, Niagara-on-the-Lake, delivers Cabernet Franc grapes to the crush pad of Fielding Estate Winery, Lincoln, Ontario on October 30, 2015. Photo by Glenn Lowson.