What Makes a Wine a VQA Wine

Wine 101 Product Exploration & Discovery

What Makes a Wine a VQA Wine

An assortment of Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs Wines.

If you're an avid wine drinker or wine enthusiast, you've likely come across wine bottles with a VQA label, but do you know what it means? 

Simply put, all VQA must meet a set of standards to be eligible for appellation labelling. The appellation is located between the VQA letters on the label and states where the grapes are grown. So, when you see VQA on a bottle, it means the wine was produced from 100% Ontario-grown grapes.  

In this blog, you will learn some interesting factoids surrounding VQA as we embark on a journey to explore what sets Ontario wine apart, highlighting the exceptional qualities that make VQA wines shine.  

VQA: Four Fun Facts to Know

A bottle and glass of Inniskillin’s delicious Late Autumn Riesling.
  1. VQA Stands for “Vintners Quality Alliance”: As an independent authority, VQA Ontario oversees the province’s “appellation of origin” system. In essence, it's the guardian of the province's winemaking heritage. Their role is to ensure that wines bearing the VQA label adhere to strict quality and integrity standards.
  2. Setting the Standards: VQA Ontario sets the standards for wine made here, which include strict quality assurance and a label-integrity program. These standards ensure that wines produced in Ontario meet specific quality benchmarks, which are vital in preserving the reputation of the region's wines. 
  3. Pass the Test: Wines are evaluated to see if they meet the VQA standard and are eligible for appellation labelling. This evaluation is a crucial step in guaranteeing the quality of Ontario wines. Each bottle with a VQA label is a testament to the dedication and passion of the winemakers who strive for excellence.
  4. Ask the Experts: To ensure that wines meet the minimum quality standards, ready-to-bottle wines are sent to an expert taste panel. This panel consists of highly trained tasters who have an exceptional palate for wine. They assess the wine's characteristics, flavours, and overall quality. Only the wines that pass this stringent assessment make it to the market with the coveted VQA label.

Discover the Diversity of VQA Wines

A collection of Sandbanks wine.

In Ontario, specific grape-growing regions known as "appellations" have been recognized, each characterized by unique soil and climate conditions conducive to grape cultivation. These appellations of origin are divided into three main Viticultural Areas (VAs): Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, and Prince Edward County.  

From bold and fruit-forward reds to crisp and rich whites, you can find a variety of VQA wines at your neighbourhood Wine Rack, including favourites from Jackson-Triggs, Inniskillin, Le Clos Jordanne, Sandbanks, and Vintage Ink. Let's explore what makes some of these wines so unique and worthy of a place on your wine rack. 

Jackson-Triggs: A Canadian & Award-Winning Favourite  

Jackson-Triggs is a name synonymous with quality and value in the world of Canadian wines. Founded in 1993, Jackson-Triggs has consistently produced premium and award-winning VQA wines with rich flavour and distinct character. As one of Canada’s most awarded wineries, you can find a diverse range of Jackson-Triggs wines – perfect for any occasion – at Wine Rack.  

Inniskillin: Canada’s First Estate Winery Post-Prohibition

Inniskillin is internationally renowned for its award-winning wines and pioneering role in establishing the Canadian wine industry. On July 31, 1975, its founders made history when they were given the first winery license in Canada since Prohibition. Inniskillin is borne from their winemaker's unwavering commitment to crafting wines that authentically express the unique characteristics of the vineyard in every sip. You can find popular and award-winning Inniskillin wines at your neighbourhood Wine Rack, including their iconic and unique Icewines.  

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Le Clos Jordanne: Vision, Tradition, Terroir

Le Clos Jordanne produces ultra-premium, Burgundian-style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, expressive of the unique Jordan Bench terroir. Le Clos Jordanne’s terroir-revealing wines demonstrate that applying traditional Burgundian winemaking techniques to New World terroir, with minimal intervention, yields exceptional results. Le Clos Jordanne’s winemaker, Thomas Bachelder, is internationally recognized and has a specialty in the production of cool-climate Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. You can discover select Le Clos Jordanne wines at Wine Rack.

Sandbanks: Smooth, Fruity, & Locally Grown

Fun fact: Sandbanks is a female-founded winery. What makes Sandbanks wines unique and different is the care and quality that goes into the wines from the vineyard right through to bottling. The wines come out fruity, smooth, and very approachable. From something crisp and light to something full-bodied and smooth, there is Sandbanks wine for any palate. To this day, Sandbanks Baco Noir remains their bestselling and signature wine. You can find their quality, award-winning wines at a reasonable price at Wine Rack.

Vintage Ink: Crafted for Rule Breaking

If you're searching for something truly unique, Vintage Ink brings a distinct flavour that dares to be different. From unconventionally delicious blends to bottles aged with French and American oak, Vintage Ink makes its own rules. Crafted using winemaking techniques that defy tradition, being bold and original is what they do. The hand-illustrated labels are more than mere designs, they're a representation of the passion, creativity, and uniqueness that goes into every bottle. You can shop their six distinctive wines at Wine Rack.

Discover VQA Wines at Wine Rack

A wine enthusiast enjoying some Sandbanks Baco Noir red wine.

As your one-stop-shop, Wine Rack offers a curated selection of local and award-winning wines, seasonal favourites, and exclusives you can’t find anywhere else! Whether you are looking for red, white, rosé, or sparkling wines, our local wine experts can help you find the perfect accompaniment for that special moment or everyday occasion.  

Whether you prefer to shop in-store or online, Wine Rack offers an easy-to-find and easy-to-buy online experience full of surprising discoveries, exceptional value, and convenience. With over 160 locations in Ontario, we’ve got your wine list covered! And with select Wine Rack locations open late and even during long weekends, you can enjoy a convenient shopping experience any time you visit. So, the next time you want to explore quality VQA wines produced 100% in Ontario, you’ll know where to go – Wine Rack!  

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