The trusted INDEPENDENT AUTHORITY on Ontario wine appellations.

Wine Grapes

VQA is the starting point for every authentic wine of origin and quality in Ontario. The Ontario Wine Appellation Authority is the regulatory agency responsible for the integrity of local wine appellations, enforcing wine composition and labelling standards, and ensuring consumers have the information they need to make an informed choice when buying VQA certified wines.


Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario, now known as the Ontario Wine Appellation Authority, was incorporated in 1998 for the purpose of administering legislation establishing a quality based appellation system in Ontario.  The corporation was established under a Board of Directors representing the soon to be regulated wineries, sector stakeholders and the Ontario government.

The original VQA concept and framework was created by a group of Ontario wineries in 1988 and had been successfully implemented as a voluntary industry program.  With significant growth in the Ontario wine industry, moving the program into a regulated environment was an important step.  Government regulation and industry stewardship combined to provide more structure through independent oversight, strengthen enforcement and build trust with consumers and our trading partners.    

The Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999 was proclaimed on June 29, 2000 by the Honourable Robert W. Runciman, then Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations.  Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario was designated as the “Wine Authority” and assumed administrative and legal authority to regulate the use of specified designations, terms and descriptors used by Ontario wineries.  

Two full time staff were hired in early 2000 to set up the program infrastructure.  Forty four wineries registered by June of that year and the first VQA wine was approved under the VQA Act on July 10, 2000.  

For more history see Wine Country Ontario


The VQA Act sets the framework by which standards for the production of VQA wine and appellations for wine growing regions are established. The Ontario Wine Appellation Authority has the following operating objectives:

  • To establish, monitor and enforce an appellation of origin system in accordance with the Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999 that allows consumers to identify wines on the basis of the area where the grapes are grown, the methods used in making the wine and other quality standards; 
  • To regulate the use of specified terms, descriptions and designations associated with the VQA appellation system when used to describe any wines made in Ontario; 
  • To act as the Wine Authority under the Vintners Quality Alliance Act, 1999, and to participate in discussions with government and other stakeholders which relate to quality wine standards; 
  • To inform, educate and work with the grape and wine industry, governments and the public to promote the value and benefits of appellations and VQA-approved wines.

The Ontario Wine Appellation Authority’s long term strategic goal is to build a strong, credible and relevant appellation system, supported by quality standards and label integrity, and to raise the recognition and knowledge of each of Ontario’s wine appellations and their unique features.

Overhead (high-angle) view of a vineyard with green leaves and trees on a bright sunny day with a clear blue sky. Lake Ontario and Toronto are visible in the background.

Find out more about how the Ontario Wine Appellation Authority is governed, corporate strategy and the relationship with the Ontario government.