SOURCE: Canadian Vintners Association

Canadian Vintners Association

SOURCE: Vignerons Independants du Quebec

VIQ

February 26, 2015 15:11 ET

Winemakers Reject Quebec Icewine Standard

OTTAWA, ON--(Marketwired - February 26, 2015) - The Canadian Vintners Association (CVA), representing over 90% of all wine produced in Canada and almost 100% of Canada's genuine Icewine production, and Vignerons Indépendants du Québec (VIQ) are deeply disappointed in the Québec government's new Icewine certification system for "Vin de Glace du Québec." The recently announced Québec standard effectively lowers the bar for the production of Icewine in Québec and fails to meet Canadian and internationally accepted Icewine production practices.

Canada is the global leader in the production, sale and export of Icewine, producing 90% of the world's authentic Icewine. To help combat counterfeit products, as well as meet international trade obligations, the Government of Canada passed Icewine Regulation (SOR/2014-10) in February 2014. A key requirement of the federal standard is that Icewine is made exclusively from "grapes naturally frozen on the vine." This is a fundamental in Icewine production, upheld by wine-producing countries around the world and supported by the International Organization of Wine and Vine (OIV). 

"Industry celebrated the passing of the federal Icewine standard last year," stated Dan Paszkowski, CVA President and CEO. "It is shocking that the Québec government and its accrediting body, Conseil des appellations réservées et des termes valorisants (CARTV), is permitting the harvesting of grapes before they are naturally frozen on the vine, falling short of the federal standard and all international standards for Icewine. This risks the reputation of authentic and globally respected Icewine producers from coast to coast." 

In Canada, provincial governments have the responsibility for on-farm production. Unfortunately, the Québec government is allowing grapes to be harvested before the grapes are naturally frozen on the vine. The harvested grapes are then placed in outdoor nets, hanging for weeks or months, until the temperature drops to -8°C or lower. 

"This practice is unacceptable. The VIQ asserts that authentic Icewine production is both possible in Québec and essential for building customer confidence," stated Charlotte Reason, VIQ President, representing more than 40 Québec wine industry members.

Some vineyards argue that the early harvest and netting is required, due to inclement weather and heavy snowfall. Icewine is the most extreme form of winemaking in the world and all Canadian wineries operate in harsh winter conditions to produce a drop of "liquid gold." However, both Environment Canada data and genuine Icewine producers in Québec confirm that it is possible to harvest grapes at temperatures below -8°C with minimal snow cover at harvest.

John Antony, a member of VIQ and winemaker at Chapelle Ste. Agnes, located in Sutton, Québec, states, "Our winery is completely committed to meeting the Canadian and global standards for this iconic product." 

"Icewine is a true Canadian premium wine product, and we will maintain the highest standards and harvest our grapes only when they are naturally frozen on the vine, not clipped from the roots beforehand. Our consumers deserve no less," concluded Mr. Antony.

Canada is known around the world as a leader in the production of genuine Icewine, representing one-third of Canada's annual wine export sales value. It is imperative that the "Vin de glace du Québec" standard be amended to meet the federal definition and international Icewine standards, as inaction will erode consumer confidence and effectively undermine our reputation, with longstanding negative competitive implications for the Québec and Canadian wine industry. 

ABOUT THE VIGNERONS INDÉPENDANTS DU QUÉBEC

The Vignerons Indépendants du Québec aims to promote the production of wine made entirely from the Quebec terroir prohibiting any addition of raw material from outside of Québec (grapes, juice, and juice concentrate), excluding alcohol required for the production of fortified wines, using exclusively artisanal -- non-industrial -- transformation methods. www.viquebec.com

ABOUT THE CANADIAN VINTNERS ASSOCIATION

The Canadian Vintners Association (CVA) is the national voice of the Canadian wine industry, representing more than 90% of annual wine production. CVA members are engaged in the entire wine value chain from grape growing, farm management, grape harvesting, research, wine production, bottling, retail sales and tourism. www.canadianvintners.com

Additional Resources:

Official Government of Québec release on "Vin de glace du Québec" French only
"Vin de glace du Québec" standard (see Section VI) French only
"Vin de Glace du Québec" supporting information 
"Vin de Glace du Québec" production using nets (video) French only
Authentic Icewine Harvest (video)
Government of Canada Icewine Regulations
Canadian Vintners Association Icewine Facts

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