VQA stands for "Vintners Quality Alliance". It is Canada's sign of approval of quality wine by a governing body.
Most wine regions have their own governing body of winemaking standards to measure the quality of that region's wine. For example, winemakers in Italy are subject to the approval of the DOC, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata, and the DOCG, or Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita. In France, the governing body is the AOC, or Appellation d'Origine Controlee.
In Canada, to be considered for VQA status, the winemaker first has to apply. The wine submitted must meet all regulations set out by the Vintners Quality Alliance. A few examples of these regulations include strict label guidelines - labels stating "Product of British Columbia" must be produced from 100% BC grown grapes; wines bearing the name of a specific region (known as the viticultural area) must contain grapes of which 95% are from that specific area; wines of a particular vintage date must be at least 85% from that particular year of harvest. After regulation standards are met, the wine undergoes a taste test screening by a panel of judges.
In the screening, six specially trained people blind-taste each wine and rate them for various qualities. Wines that lack certain qualities or contain obvious faults are eliminated. If a wine passes the screen test, it is given VQA status.
In Canada, wineries are not obligated to follow VQA standards, but within British Columbia, they must follow regulations of the BCWA (BC Wine Authority). To find out more about VQA wine standards, visit the links below.
Links to check out:
Vintners Quality Alliance Ontario