RECENT RULE CHANGES AND THE WINE APPROVAL APPLICATION
Recent changes to the VQA regulations are reflected in the wine approval application form and process.
If you intend to use containers other than glass bottles, these need to be specified at the time of the application (the application form will be updated shortly) and you will need to submit more than one label if needed. VQA labelling rules apply to all containers, including those destined for licensees or wholesalers, whether re-fillable or not.
Keep in mind that a wine application where stainless steel keg or tetra-pak is selected as a container option will not pass the label review if a compliant label or labels are not submitted for each container. For example, the same label for both containers may be acceptable but if you intend to bottle a wine under the appellation Niagara on the Lake and also distribute it in another type of container under the Ontario appellation, two labels must accompany your application.
If you intend NOT to use the VQA logo on the container, this option must be declared on the application and a compliant label with the appellation text at least 3.2 mm high will be required for approval.
Other logo selections on the application form include capsule, neckband, sticker, or on the label. If capsule, neckband or sticker is selected, you do not need to include the artwork with the submission and the otherwise compliant label will be approved with a note that the logo must appear on the container in the correct size and colour. It is the winery's responsibility to ensure that this is done. If you select front or rear label and the logo does not appear on the artwork submitted, the label will not be approved.
VQA GRAPE DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENTS
VQA rules require that documentation be provided from GGO on all grapes used in VQA wines. The only acceptable "weigh slip" for VQA purposes is a print out from the electronic SETGO system administered by GGO. Records must include at least the identity of the grower, vineyard location, grape variety, tonnes, brix (as independently tested) and date of harvest. Please note that handwritten slips or any documentation generated outside of the GGO system will not be accepted. Grapes that are not properly registered in SETGO will not be eligible for use in VQA wines.
CHANGE TO A LITERAGE BASED FEE
VQA Ontario is changing its sales levy from a bottle based fee to a literage fee. Effective with your report due on November 10th 2012 (for sales made in the month of October), the fee will be $0.05 per liter. LCBO will be providing an updated Excel worksheet to all wineries in the near future. Please do not use it for any reports filed for sales occurring before October 1, 2012.
Please make sure this information (and the new forms when you get them) are forwarded to your accounting staff.
GETTING THE MOST FROM THE ONLINE APPROVALS SYSTEM
VQA Ontario has been operating its online wine approvals system for just over 3 years. We have generally received positive feedback about the systems usability but here are some tips based on frequently asked questions.
Even though the system is online, it is not quite paperless. Please don't forget to print two copies of the completed application and send on to VQAO with your payment and include the other in the box with the wine samples. Missing forms cause delays.
Each user should have their own ID. Two people logged on at the same time with a shared ID will cause the system to become unstable and it will not work properly. Sharing a password is also not secure and could mean that consultants or employees that are no longer with you can access your account. Remember - your account contains sensitive information. The designated "admin authority" can create new IDs within your company.
A useful tool in the system is the main grid. Clicking on "Wine Approvals System" will show a list of wine applications. You can filter which applications are displayed by checking "in progress", "approved", "not approved" etc. If you are missing some wines, check to see if the filters are turned on and hiding them!
Clicking on a Wine ID number will give you more information about the wine. The landing page for each wine contains tabs to access status or results on tasting, lab tests and label reviews. From this landing page you can view and print summary forms (the certificate of origin) and the Certificate of Analysis, resubmit the wine or order export forms for the European Union. Please note that Certificates of Analysis are not uploaded for wines that are not approved but you may make a special request to VQA Ontario to receive the lab data for these wines. You can also edit the application up until the time the samples have been received by the LCBO.
From the main grid you can click on any checkmark or "x" to go directly to the details for that result. We encourage you to look at the label review for all wines – including those that pass – since comments are often made on the label about non-critical issues such as federal compliance, syntax or spelling errors.
The main grid is displayed in order starting with the most recent Wine ID. You can sort by any other column by clicking on the column title (brand, category, vintage etc.).
MORE ON VQA LABELLING RULES
Labelling rules are an important part of the VQA system. Understanding these requirements and how they apply to specific wines is a major factor in avoiding compliance notices from VQA Ontario. Marketing staff should also be aware that the same rules apply to all descriptions of a wine, including descriptive text used in signage, shelf talkers, print ads, web copy and other promotional materials. Some illustrations of uses that are NOT permitted: Any use the word "Niagara" in descriptive text that relates to a wine that cannot be labelled with a Niagara appellation, such as a Vidal table wine; Any use of "Icewine" as a comparative descriptor for a Late Harvest wine, such as "like Icewine but less sweet".
VQA regulation 406 sets out the requirements for use of all regulated label terms, including those prohibited for use on non-VQA wines (appellation names, some wine names) and additional requirements for terms and descriptions related to content or process. We encourage you to consult the regulation regularly at http://www.vqaontario.ca/Regulations/Standards . You could also review VQA Ontario's labelling guidelines for an explanation of basic labelling rules and how they are applied in practice http://www.vqaontario.ca/Regulations/Packaging