If you think about it, the Niagara wine industry is quite young in comparison to those in Italy or France, where wine has been in production for over 400 years. It’s only really been since the 1970s, that the Niagara region has become the home of Ontario’s winemaking. Thanks to the perseverance of Inniskillin Wines, who in 1975 was the first winery to receive a winery license since 1929, our region’s economic capacity and impact have dramatically increased.
There are over 120 wineries in the Niagara region and in the Niagara peninsula alone, the wine industry has a nearly $4 billion economic impact according to the latest studies. Plus the number of wine-related tourists that visit Niagara is over two million a year. For comparison, the industry contributes $10,000 to the economy for every tonne of grapes grown and sold, compared to $700 for every tonne of oil produced.
In the past ten years, we have only seen the demand for Ontario and Ontario VQA wines increase. With the expansion of licensed wine distributors and the growth of independent wineries, our reach is ever-expanding further into Ontario and Canada. In 2018, studies showed that Ontario was the country’s leading grape producer, accounting for about 60%-70% of all Canadian production. Additionally, the province-wide, the grape and wine sector generates more than 18,000 jobs in Ontario. Wine is a big business with a huge impact.
What do we see for the wine industry in 2020?
A lot like the renaissance Napa Valley went through about 30 years ago, Niagara is poised for major changes. With new governments and people in power, changes are being made to many of the tax structures that are important to Niagara wine manufacturers. If industry leaders get their way, a change in the tax structure to align with the VQA sector in British Columbia, which is thriving, would be great news for small and medium Ontario wineries.
We love to see our industry grow and continue to thrive in Niagara. If you are looking to learn more about the deep history and wine industry, our tours are perfect for you. Our trained Wine Smart guides are not only well-versed in the wine itself but are immensely passionate about the industry as a whole and can open your eyes to the importance of the Niagara wine region. Book your tour today!