March 15, 2004

Ontario wine industry to develop guide to sustainable practices

The Wine Council of Ontario (WCO) is launching a program aimed at making Ontario's leading wineries among the best in the world in environmental practices. A workshop later this month will begin a year-long process to develop a best environmental practices guide for wineries in Ontario. WCO members will work with experts in the field on this project, which was announced by WCO president Linda Franklin will at "Leading Edge 2004," an environmental and smart growth conference in St. Catharines.

Franklin said the Council intends to assume a leadership role in a number of issues affect Ontarians as a whole as well as the province's wine industry.

"Our members are connected, not only to their friends, colleagues and competitors in the wine business, not only to the land on which they depend, but also to some of the key issues that concern society as a whole: the environment and environmental practices, urbanization of farm land and the need to protect this valuable resource, and the prospects for future economic growth in Ontario," she said.

Noting that the wine growing regions of California, Australia and New Zealand have recently tackled the issue, Franklin added that Ontario wine growers also want to farm and produce wine in "a responsible way, a sustainable way, a way that leaves the land as good or better than they found it." She said a number of WCO member wineries are already actively pursuing environmental sustainability.

"We will continue this work with our members to develop a 'made-in-Ontario' program of best environmental practices. The end product will be a guide and a training program that we know our members will want to sign on to, because they believe that a healthy and sustainable wine industry needs to be based on environmentally-sound practices," Franklin stated.

Ontario's wine regions - Niagara Peninsula, Pelee Island, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County - are spread over 15,000 acres in southern Ontario. Together, they produce 90% of the grapes used in Canadian wine production. More information is available on-line at www.winesofontario.org.

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