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Ontario to deliver $10million relief package to wineries and cideries

A new Winery Agri-Tourism initiative aims to help wine producers in the Canadian province of Ontario to recover from lost sales following the pandemic.

The Ontario government has launched a CA$10million relief programme to support wine and cider businesses that have been impacted by Covid-19.

A one-off grant will be available to eligible wineries and cideries that saw a revenue decline in at least one of their areas of operation – be it decreased tours, tastings or events – or increased costs as a result of having to implement safety measures and social distancing on site.

The support programme is designed to help protect agricultural production and local jobs in rural communities within the Ontario province, which is known for its ice wine, a sweet wine made from frozen grapes, often Reisling or Vidal Blanc.

Many of the 180 or so wineries in Ontario are family-run operations with fewer than 20 employees. They often rely on migrant workers to help harvest the crop, a resource which has also been significantly curbed due to travel restrictions since the start of the pandemic.

“This one-time investment will provide grants to eligible wineries and cideries with on-site stores in 2021, to help them thrive following a tough year,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, minister of finance, in a press release on Monday.

Applications for the programme will be sent out directly to eligible wineries and cideries today.

The appellations of Ontario are overseen by the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Ontario, a regulatory body established in 1989 to protect the quality and consistency of viticulture in the province. The VQA has already put in place a Wine Support Programme to help with the recovery of local wineries, which will now be extended to 2022-2023.

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