Ontario is the largest wine producer in Canada making wineries an important part of Ontario’s beverage industry. Ontario wineries account for over 2% of the food and beverage manufacturing sector’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) footnote 1. Products are sold through the LCBO, grocery and winery retail levels.

2020 Key indicators

In 2020:

  • the wineries sector was responsible for $288 million in GDP, which is a decrease of $38 million over the last five years footnote 1
  • there were 315 wineries businesses in Ontario, which is a decrease of 3.7% over the last five years footnote 2
  • there were over 4,000 people employed in the wineries sector. Employment in this sector has increased by 7,373 or 1.5% over the last five years footnote 3
  • there were $13.1 billion in exports and $21.5 billion of products imported into the province. The United States is our main export market, followed by China and Hong Kong footnote 5

Ontario at a glance

Ontario’s appellations of origin are unique and home to many wineries across the province. They are identified as Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County which are accompanied by physical land characteristics that influence viticultural practices allowing for wineries to flourish.

Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization that represents over 500 grape growers of 17,000 acres of vineyards in Ontario. In particular, the organization represents all of Ontario’s processing grape growers in the three designated Viticulture Areas such as Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County and other emerging areas footnote 107.

Ontario Craft Wineries (OCW) is the representing voice of the Ontario Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wine industry. As an industry partner, the OCW leads the growth and profitability of Ontario’s respected VQA wine sector through strategic partnership and authoritative trusted advocacy footnote 108.

The Vintners Quality Assurance Ontario (VQA) is an independent regulatory body that sets the standards for quality grape growing and winemaking in Ontario. The VQA implements a strict quality-assurance and label-integrity program to ensure that the wine is made local from 100% Ontario-grown grapes footnote 109.

Wine Growers Canada (WGC) is an advocacy group that works to create a policy and business environment that support the entire wine industry and their respective wine regions. WGC is dedicated to make valuable economic contributions that allows for continued prosperity in the Canadian wine industry footnote 110.

Investment activities

The Government of Ontario provided a one-time $10 million grant in 2021 to help wineries that were impacted by COVID‑19 safety measures. The Winery Agri-Tourism COVID‑19 Relief Initiative fulfilled this commitment by providing one-time grants to eligible wineries with on-site retail stores in September 2021 footnote 111.

Niagara College leveraged $20 million in funding to work on 190 unique projects with industry partners and a total of 240 projects and services were completed during 2020 footnote 112.

Wineries across all segments invested primarily in new machinery and equipment, facility modifications/upgrades and land acquisitions footnote 113.


Trends in this sector include:

  • alcohol brands experimenting with production processes to create trendy flavours to attract consumers in 2020 footnote 114
  • innovation being derived from consumer demands to recreate the “restaurant experience” at home by offering food pairing ideas along with wine suggestions footnote 114
  • leading VQA growth varietals in 2020 including: Pinot Grigio (22%, $3.1 million), Cab/Merlot (23%, $3.9 million), VQA Rose (44%, $3.7 million) footnote 115
  • wines being promoted in a “truly better” manner by differentiating themselves into a lifestyle, showcasing food pairings and being celebrated through the use of premium ingredients footnote 114