- Created on Thursday, 19 December 2013 18:25
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By CATHY MCCABE
Premier Kathleen Wynne announced Monday that her government is investing $75 million over five years towards their wine and grape strategy after touring the Wine Visitor and Education Centre at the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus of Niagara College.
Wynne, who is also the minister of agriculture and food, said the strategy will include establishing an Ontario wine fund that will “support key winery and vineyard investments.”
“It will make it easier for people to choose Ontario wines by expanding [Vintners Quality Alliance] VQA destination boutiques and pursing new opportunities within the LCBO.”
She said, “The good work we’ve done through the wine and grape strategy over the past five years has helped increase VQA wine sales by 59 per cent.”
Wynne said the government is also going to work with the wine industry on a program for selling Ontario wine at farmers’ markets.
Wynne said the wine industry is a catalyst for tourism and new businesses.
“Your success has helped establish the Niagara Peninsula, Prince Edward County and Lake Erie’s north shore as prime tourist destinations and that translates to jobs and economic activity that benefit all of Ontario.”
Wynne said, “Your sector is an Ontario success story and I’m confident that your next chapter will be even more impressive.”
Niagara College President Dan Patterson said, “We’re very excited about the government’s announcement to increase their support to the wine industry.”
Patterson said the industry is very supportive of their programs.
“They provide advice and assistance and they hire our students.” He said the college runs a series of programs which “equip students with the right skills and knowledge to go and work in the wine industry.”
Jessica Reese, a second-year Winery and Viticulture Technician student, gave the premier the tour around the Centre. Reese said Wynne’s announcement was “wonderful.”
“It’s a great move for the industry to have that kind of investment come in, especially for over a prolonged period of time. It means a lot of change will happen.”
Jim Bradley, minister of the environment, Tracy MacCharles, minister of consumer services, and Eric Hoskins, minister of economic development, trade and employment, were on hand for the announcement.