Have you heard the news? According to the Canadian Vintners Association, we could soon see some clarification on the issue of Cellared in Canada (CiC).
Not sure what the issue about Cellared in Canada is? We’ll simply put it’s where a producer makes wine using foreign grapes but markets it as Canadian wine. The real issue with this is the price point. These wines normally retail for less than $10 while wines made using 100% Canadian grapes from local estate wineries cost at least double that price.
If you’ve been in a local liquor store lately you’ve most likely seen one of these wines on the shelf. They’re usually in the same aisle as wine made from local estate wineries, the difference is that they cost significantly less. Take Copper Moon, for example, a bottle of its Sauvignon Blanc retails for anywhere from $8 – $10, while a Sauvignon Blanc from a local estate winery most likely retails for $24 or more.
The confusion around these wines stems from the fact that the average consumer has no idea that these wines are not being made using Canadian grapes. Producers use the “Cellared in Canada” label to make it seem as though these wine are in fact Canadian wines.
These same producers argue that this is the only way they can compete with international wines in the under $10 category. They argue that size of scale in the Canadian wine industry makes grapes expensive and as such, they need to be able to continue to purchase inexpensive foreign grapes to compete.
The small estate wineries argue this practice is misleading to consumers and actually harms the reputation of Canadian wine.
Personally, I tend to agree that it’s a misleading practice. I don’t have an issue with producers making this wine, but don’t think it should be labeled as Canadian wine.
And now it looks like we might be getting a solution to this very issue. In the fall of 2016, the Canadian Vintners Association oversaw a series of meetings in Toronto and Penticton with various industry participants to discuss this issue. The direct result of these meetings was the recommendation that a new label “International Blend from Imported and Domestic Wines” be adopted and replace the current “Cellared in Canada” label.
In January the CVA released a statement titled: “Canadian Blended Wine Industry and Labelling Overview“, in which it confirmed that it had submitted this new recommendation to the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food in December of 2016.
While the Cellared in Canada label will remain in place in the interim, there is some hope on the horizon that it will be a thing of the past.