The Ontario wine industry has been granted some relief from the crop shortage it is facing after poor weather damaged grapes during the winter.

It is thought that the Ontario grape harvest could be over 50% smaller than the year before. Estimates place the crop at under 20,000 tonnes, compared to 46,000 tonnes last year.

As a result, the authorities have allowed winemakers to cut the local grape content in some of their wines. The changes will allow vintners to cut the local grape content for blended or "cellared in Ontario" wines to 1% down from 30%.

It is hoped the move will make sure enough local grapes are available for the premium Vintners' Quality Alliance wines, which have to be made from 100% Ontario grapes.

The relaxation of the laws is for this year only.
 
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, authorities will also allow wineries set up after 1993 to use grapes bought in from abroad for the 2005 crop. Plans also include a new category of wine requiring 85% Ontario grape content, which is expected to be phased in by 2010.