Saturday, January 9, 2010

Made in Canada Wine

I've been following the issue of some Canadian wineries importing foreign wine, grapes or juice, then vinifying it, bottleing and/or storing it in Canada and then labelling the wine as having some Canadian origin.

Under the rules of the Competition Act enforced by the Competition Bureau, so long as there was some form of manufacturing or value added by a process in Canada, such as vinification of foreign grape juice, or bottling and storage (cellaring) the product could be marketed as Made in Canada.

Problem here is the grapes/juice or wine being used to make these so called "Canadian Wines" are from foreign sources. The grapes/juice or wine is so cheap that utilizing these sources of materials appear to be hurting the Canadian wine grape producers. This is especially so in Ontario.

A similar problem was happening a few years back with the Canadian diamond industry. People could import rough (raw) diamonds from foreign sources such as South Africa, Brazil, or the Nigeria then cut and polish the diamonds in Canada and in turn market them as Made in Canada. The processing of the diamond in Canada was what allowed them to be labelled as Made in Canada. Many thought these foreign diamonds were in fact Canadian mined diamonds because of the Made in Canada label. Often the label had a maple leaf or some arctic image associated to it which further induced one to believe the diamond was Canadian.

It is probable that the same thing happens with wine that is labelled as made in Canada or Canadian but made with foreign grapes. For instance in many liguor/wine stores the wines are separated by county of origin - U.S, South Africa, Australia, Frace, Canada etc. These wines that are made with foreign grapes but vinified in Canada are typically found in the Canadian section of the store. This furthers ones perception that these are actually Canadian wines despite that the grapes/juice was not produced in Canada.

The Competition Bureau changed the interpretation here and now only allows diamonds produced in Canada to be labelled as Canadian diamonds. See link.

I don't have a problem with the importation of foreign grapes being vinifyed in Canada and sold as wine in Canada or even the foreign wine. I'd just like the labelling to be very specific to ensure that no one mistakes the wine for that made with grapes grown in Canada. If the country of orgin label is not protected for grape production then why bother labelling what country the wine/grapes come from. However, apparently this is not an issue unique to Canada. Search the internet and you'll see.

Perhaps the same should be done with wine as was done with diamonds and that only wine made with grapes produced in Canada could be labelled as being Canadian.