The Wine Council of Ontario (WCO) was incorporated in June 1974 by 8 winery owners to advocate for the success and growth of the Ontario wine industry.
The Ontario wine industry has grown rapidly over the past few decades. By 1993, there were only 17 wineries in Ontario, however this number has increased substantially (31 wineries in 1995, 50 in 2000, 75 in 2005) and today there are more than 120 wineries located across the province.
The WCO currently represents the interests of 85 winery properties from Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island, Prince Edward County, and the Niagara Peninsula.
Members benefit from the WCO's strong ties with the Ontario and federal governments. Some of the most significant laws and policies that the WCO has advocated for include:
- Establishment of the VQA appellation system
- Sunday Shopping at wineries (as part of an overall tourism focus)
- Ability for wineries to sell directly to licensees/restaurants
- Expanded opportunities for small wineries at the LCBO
- Federal excise tax relief for domestic wines
Marketing initiatives are also a key function of the WCO and critical to the growth of the entire industry. Building the "Wine Country Ontario" brand and creating positive changes in consumer behaviour and support for locally grown and crafted wines is a primary goal.
Membership to the WCO is open to all licensed Ontario-based commercial wineries producing grape wines.