New standard to define icewine in Canada

New regulations specifically require products sold as icewine in Canada to be made exclusively from grapes naturally frozen on the vine. (

If it’s not made only with grapes naturally frozen on the vine, it can’t be called icewine.

As obvious as it may seem, a new move to enshrine that notion in the federal Agricultural Products Act is expected to ease and boost exports of Canada’s most lucrative wines and weed out any pretenders claiming to be the real deal.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency announced regulatory amendments were introduced Wednesday creating a new national standard for icewine, requiring any product sold as “icewine,” “ice wine” or “ice-wine” to be made exclusively from grapes naturally frozen on the vine.

The new standard “helps ensure that wine entering Canada adheres to a common definition and it also demonstrates to our trading partners that icewine produced in Canada meets a national standard,” the government said Wednesday.

The new rules specifically ban products from being sold as icewine unless they meet that definition and are certified as such by an entity authorized by the originating province.

Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz added the government’s move — which includes other new mandatory requirements for wine labelling — “will ensure Canada meets our obligations under the World Wine Trade Group Agreement, and represents a tremendous benefit to Canadian wine exporters by providing greater market access for their excellent product.”

While icewine only makes up 1.2 per cent of Canada’s wine exports by volume, it yields 45 per cent of Canada’s total wine export revenue, the government noted Wednesday.

Canadian Vintners Association CEO Dan Paszkowski said the new federal standard “supports established provincial standards, enhances Canada’s trade opportunities, and protects genuine icewine producers from those using unacceptable standards and fraudulent practices in both domestic and growing export markets.”

Quebec’s agriculture minister, Francois Gendron, hailed the federal move in a separate release Wednesday, noting the federal standard recognizes regional differences in climate and growing conditions and will end a “period of uncertainty” for Quebec growers.

Quebec’s own certification process for “vin de glace du Quebec,” which takes effect this year, will “protect the authenticity” of the province’s product and further assure federal officials that provincial systems will guarantee icewine meets the agreed-upon definition, he said.

“Single field”

The federal regulatory package announced Wednesday also includes amendments for Canada’s Food and Drug Regulations and Consumer Packaging and Labelling Regulations, allowing wine manufacturers to place mandatory labelling information anywhere within a “single field of vision.”

The “single field” rule means wine manufacturers will be able to place mandatory labelling information on “any part of the surface of the wine container, excluding its top and bottom, provided that it can all be seen without having to turn the container.”

Such mandatory labelling information on wine containers includes common name, net quantity, country of origin and alcohol content by volume. Other wine-producing countries including the U.S., Australia and New Zealand already allow vintners to place their mandatory labelling information within a single field of vision.

In all, the new labelling rules announced Wednesday “are designed to ease trade with the World Wine Trade Group’s participating countries,” the government said.

Signatory countries in the trade group, along with Canada, include the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay and Georgia. China and Paraguay have also attended WWTG meetings. — Network

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