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Proposed change for Canadian wine labels aimed at reducing confusion

Upcoming changes to wine labels will make it easier for consumers to know where the grapes are actually coming from.
Upcoming changes to wine labels will make it easier for consumers to know where the grapes are actually coming from.

KELOWNA - Upcoming changes to wine labels are going to make it easier for customers to know when they’re buying 100 per cent domestic wine.

The changes pertain to cellared wines, which are wines bottled in Canada, but don’t use 100 per cent Canadian grown grapes. Labels will say 'international blend from imported and domestic wines,' instead of the current wording, ‘cellared in Canada.'

Canadian Vintners Association president and CEO Dan Paszkowski says removing the reference to Canada from the label will cause less confusion for wine buyers.

“The reference to ‘cellared in Canada’ is potentially confusing to consumers, as they might think they’re actually drinking 100 per cent Canadian wine. This is why we’ve agreed to remove ‘Canada’ from the terminology,” Paszkowski said.

The Vintners Association made the request to the federal government after consulation with the public and the wine industry, he says. But due to previously planned changes to modernize food labels — scheduled to become law by the end of 2018 — the wine label change looked like it could be farther away than hoped for.

“2018 is a long way out, so since we already have the green light from the wine industry and members of Canadian society, we’ve asked if the government could fast track our label designation prior to the implementation of that new law,” Paszkowski says.

The government will have to do their own public consultation before the changes can be officially made, but is not opposed to speeding up the process, he says.

“We’re hoping this could start to roll out before the end of 2017,” Paszkowski says.

When it comes to B.C. however, Paszkowski says he hopes retailers will implement the changes to their signage.

“We’ve had challenges in B.C. where private retailers are selling both VQA and blended wines under the B.C. flag, creating further confusion for the consumer.”

The Vintners Association has been working with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to change the labeling surrounding cellared wines in Canada since 2008. According to the Association, the wine industry contributes nine billion dollars to the Canadian economy annually, with domestic and blended wines each making up 50 per cent of the total number.

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