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How to Understand a Canadian Wine Label

Cracking the Code on Canadian Wine Labels

Similar to American Viticutural Areas in the United States, in British Columbia there are Geographical Indications (GI) / Geographical Indications Viticultural Areas. GI’s are designated wine-grape growing regions with specific geographical, climate attributes, and grape varietal production.

These geographical boundaries define the wine and everything that goes into it. Everything including what grapes can be grown and how the wine is grown and is produced.

Vintners Quality Alliance

You may notice a VQA on your next Canadian wine bottle. That’s a good thing. The Vintners Quality Alliance is the quality control organization modeled after the European Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée and American Viticultural Area categories. 

Essentially that VQA on your bottle means the wine producer has met a specific set standards that guarantees the wine in the bottle is from the wine region listed on the label and that the wine producer has adhered to strict codes of viticultural and vinification standards.

How to Read Wine Labels

Taking it even further, in British Columbia you have BC VQA. 

British Columbia Vintners Quality Alliance is the quality control organization for BC wine. Wines will be labeled BC VQA, a guarantee that you’re sipping a wine that is 100% grown and made in British Columbia. There are a few other requirements to be labeled a BC VQA wine.

  • 95% of the grapes must come from the specific region listed on the label
  • 85% of the grapes must come from the vintage listed on the label
  • 85% of the grapes must be the varietal or varietals listed on the label
Simone Spinner

Simone FM Spinner, CWS MH

Simone FM Spinner is a wine writer, consultant, judge, speaker, and published author. She is a certified sommelier with 13 advanced wine certifications, a bachelor’s and master’s degree in wine studies, and is pursuing her doctorate researching wine, climate change, and legacy. She is the Women of the Vine & Spirits 2020 WSET Diploma scholar.