Ontario funds wine grape improvement project
The provincial government of Ontario, Canada, will provide $12 million over the next four years to help wine grape growers improve their vineyards.
Money from the Ontario Vineyard Improvement Program, announced June 28, can be used to help growers transition their vineyards to more popular grape varieties; purchase irrigation systems, bird netting, and other equipment; install measures to mitigate frost and cold damage; and consult with viticultural experts.
The program was welcomed by the Grape Growers of Ontario.
Ontario has more than 15,000 acres of wine grapes, located mostly on the peninsula between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie.
Twenty years ago, Ontario began a massive shift from Lambrusco and hybrid vines, replacing them with vinifera, the traditional varieties of Europe. That move, too, was backed by a federal/provincial Grape Adjustment Program. Today, 62 percent of Ontario’s grapes are vinifera. By law, Lambrusco grapes cannot be used in table wines made in Ontario.
Michigan, Ontario’s neighbor to the west, has about 17,000 acres of grapes, but fewer than 2,000 of them wine grapes. New York, to the east, has about 32,000 acres of grapes, split two-thirds juice and one-third wine varieties.
The Ontario wine industry is about the same size as Oregon’s.