Ontario Vineyard Improvement Program Guidelines

The Ontario Vineyard Improvement Program (OVIP) was launched April 2011 and is a 4 year program to assist the wine grape industry to make vineyard improvements. This initiative is in line with the industry varietal plan of December 2010 entitled, Aligning the Ontario Grape Supply and Demand: A Varietal Plan for the Grape and Wine Industry Final Report.

These guidelines pertain to the Producer Support Component (PSC) of OVIP. The PSC focuses on wine grape growers by providing direct financial support for eligible vineyard improvements to eligible wine grape growers. OVIP also has an Industry Support Component (ISC) to support projects of benefit to the grape growing sector as a whole.

The PSC will be delivered by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) with assistance and support from Agricorp and the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO).

Table of Contents

  1. Program Timelines
  2. Applicant Eligibility
  3. Determination of Funding Cap
  4. Eligible and Ineligible Vineyard Improvements
  5. Considerations for Applicants
  6. Payment Stacking Policy
  7. Application Process
  8. Additional Requirements for Applicants Accepted Under OVIP
  9. Schedule A

Program Timelines

A project year aligns with the provincial government’s fiscal year from April 1 to March 31 and is referred to as “Year”. An “Intake” is the period of time during which OMAFRA is accepting applications. Please see below for details about the program years and intake dates.

Year 1 - April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012
Intake 1- August 2, 2011- October 21, 2011

Year 2 - April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2013
Intake 2- December 15, 2011-March 31, 2012

Year 3 - April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014
Intake 3- December 17, 2012-March 29, 2013

Year 4 - April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015
Intake 4- to be determined

The program is first-come, first-served where funds are approved to the government’s maximum annual allocation. Once annual funds are allocated, the remaining applications in the same intake will be included in a priority queue for future intakes. Assessments of these applications will occur once the next intake opens. For this reason, there is no need to resubmit the same application.

The program will be accepting applications for Year 3 during Intake 3, opening December 17, 2012. The scheduled end of Intake 2 is March 29, 2013.

If the demand for funding exceeds the amount available, OMAFRA may decide to close Intake 3 early .

Applicant Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for funding, applicants are required to meet ALL of the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be a sole proprietor, corporation, partnership or unincorporated association. Articles of Incorporation need to be available upon request;
  • Be an active grower and have marketed wine processing grapes or late harvest juice within the past two years, or is a wine grape grower with established vines who can demonstrate a clear plan to market wine grapes within two years of applying to the PSC;
  • Hold a Farm Business Registration number or an OMAFRA-accepted equivalent;
  • Hold a GGO Number;
  • Have a Premises Identification number for the vineyards included in the application;
  • Must own or lease wine grape acreage. Applicants leasing wine grape acreage are eligible to apply on the condition that the landowner provides written consent to OMAFRA by signing Part E: Landowner's Consent Form of the application form.

Determination of Funding Cap

Under the PSC, the Government of Ontario will reimburse up to 35 per cent of eligible vineyard improvement costs up to a maximum funding cap per applicant. The cap for each applicant is determined at the time of application and equals $1,000 for each acre under production of hybrid or vinifera wine grapes (classes 5 to 10f).

The maximum funding that each eligible grower can receive, calculated at the rate of $1,000 per acre of established wine grapes farmed by the applicant at the time of application, is capped at a maximum of 100 acres or $100,000 per applicant. Growers can apply to more than one intake to use up their funding cap, but the maximum funding for any one recipient over four years is $100,000.

Chart of Funding Calculation Examples
Classes 5-10f Wine
Grapes Currently
Under Production
Calculation for
Maximum Funding
Maximum Funding
(net of HST)
Maximum Eligible
Costs at
35% Funding

Applicant Contribution

50 acres
50 x $1000/acre
Approx. $142,850
Approx. $92,850
100 acres
100 x $1000/acre
Approx. $285,700
Approx. $185,700

For the purposes of the calculation, each acre of wine grapes will be assigned to only one applicant. If two or more applicants co-farm wine grape acreage, and there is a dispute as to which applicant should be assigned the wine grape acreage for the purpose of calculating the funding cap, the land will be considered part of the landowner’s wine grape acreage.

Each acre of wine grapes (classes 5 to 10f) used to calculate an applicant’s funding cap can only be counted once in any given program Year.

Assessing Wine Grape Acreage to Determine the Funding Cap

Wine grape acreage for the PSC will be calculated on the basis of growing acreage registered by the applicant in VITIS, the electronic vine management database. Applicants who do not have some, or any, of their wine grape acreage (owned and/or leased) registered in VITIS may make a request to Agricorp and/or to GGO to have their vineyard information added to the database.

In signing the application form, applicants will authorize OMAFRA staff to have view only access to VITIS data. If an eligible applicant acquires additional wine grape acreage during the course of the program that would qualify for an increased funding cap (not exceeding the $100,000 maximum), the applicant will be eligible to apply for additional funding in a future intake.

If, after applying for funding under the program, an eligible applicant ceases wine grape production on acreage that was used in the calculation of the applicant’s funding cap, or sells/leases out that wine grape acreage, this will not affect the amount of funding the applicant is able to access in the program Year in which they were approved to receive funding.

If the same applicant applies again in a future intake, the funding cap will be reassessed based on the acreage at the time of that application. If the new cap is less than the OVIP funding already provided, no additional funding will be approved. If the new cap is higher then the funding previously provided, the applicant can apply for funding in the amount of the new cap less the amount of any funding previously received.

Any new owner/lessee of wine grape acreage will not be able to use that same acreage for the purposes of accessing funding for the remainder of the OVIP. You may apply for an exemption to this stipulation by contacting OMAFRA.

A sample calculation is provided in the table below:
Year Maximum Funding
Cap (based on eligible
acres at time of application)
Funding Received Remaining
Funding Cap
1 50 acres x $1000/acre=
$20,000 $30,000
2 Applicant sells 25 acres;
25 acres x $1000/acre=
New cap minus funding
received $25,000 -
$20,000 = $5,000


Eligible and Ineligible Vineyard Improvements

A detailed list of eligible vineyard improvements and ineligible costs is provided in Schedule A. It is important to note OMAFRA will review Schedule A on an annual basis and may revise it to better assist growers in meeting the goals and objectives of the program.

Eligible improvements for the PSC include the following:

  • Wine Grape Vine Removal
  • Vineyard Preparation
  • Vine Trellis Systems
  • Consultation with a Viticulture Expert
  • Improved Viticulture Practices
  • Reducing Cold Injury
  • Improved Irrigation
  • Pest Management
  • Improved Weather Sensing

Eligible Costs

Vineyard improvement costs may be eligible for reimbursement in one of two ways:

  • Actual cash outlays documented through invoices, receipts and proofs of payment (net of HST) (see Schedule A for more details)
  • Flat rate cost activities subject to verification by an Agricorp Adjuster. This may include work performed in the vineyard by a third party or the applicant. (See Schedule A for more details)

In order to be eligible, costs must be incurred in the Year in which the application is approved. Work must be completed on the vineyard indicated in the application. All vineyard improvements may be subject to verification by an Agricorp Adjuster or other auditors. OMAFRA will have the sole discretion to determine eligibility for program funding.

Ineligible Costs

The following costs are considered NOT ELIGIBLE for reimbursement under the PSC. A more detailed list is included in Schedule A.

  • Costs associated with completing the Application Form, Claim Form or any other program-related forms;
  • Costs associated with project planning, supervision, or administration;
  • Purchase of general farm equipment (e.g., manure spreader, tractor);
  • Materials in a farm's inventory;
  • Purchase of jointly-owned equipment;
  • Lease or rental costs of machinery and equipment (unless included in cost per acre limits).

Equipment Policy

Eligible equipment costs are those purchases of equipment solely-owned by the recipient and considered essential to undertaking the improvements that have been approved.

Recipients must retain ownership of all machinery and equipment purchased at a cost of $5,000 or more, funded under OVIP for a period of four years after purchase.

Used equipment purchases may be eligible for funding under the following conditions:

  • Equipment is purchased at fair market value;
  • Equipment is purchased from an authorized dealer;
  • No previous owner has received cost share funding for the purchase of the equipment under any program funded in part or in whole by the Government of Ontario.

Recipients will be required to provide invoices for all machinery and equipment purchases, new and used.

Considerations for Applicants

Eligible costs must be incurred by the recipient in the same Year in which the application approval is assigned. Funding cannot be carried over from one year to the next; therefore, applicants should only apply for improvements that can be realistically completed and expensed in the same Year of approval. The complete list of eligible
Vineyard Improvements is outlined in Schedule A of this guideline.

The following list of considerations is intended to assist applicants in making decisions about which vineyard improvements to include in a single application:

  • All vineyard improvements (goods and services) must be undertaken and completed by March 31 in the Year to which the application is assigned.
  • All eligible costs relating to the improvements must be incurred by the recipient by March 31 in the Year to which the application is assigned.
  • If a recipient does not spend all of the funding in the approved Year, the residual amount remains part of the overall approved funding cap (unless the recipient ceases production, sells or transfers eligible acreage).
  • Recipients who under-spend in the approved Year must reapply in a future intake to spend the remainder of their allocation. A new application must be approved evaluating:
      • eligible acres for a revised funding cap (if applicable);
      • the proposed vineyard improvements that are still eligible for reimbursement.

Applicants for Year 3 funding who incur expenditures prior to application approval do so at the risk of not being reimbursed if:

  • the application is not approved;
  • all terms and conditions are not satisfied;
  • funding is not available.

It is important to note the payments received by successful applicants to the Ontario Vineyard Improvement Program will be considered as income for tax purposes.

Payment Stacking Policy

OVIP applicants may not receive grant funding under any program financed in part or in whole by the Government of Ontario for the same vineyard improvement(s).

In particular, applicants should take care not to receive or apply for funding for the same vineyard improvement(s) under OVIP as under the VQA Support Program administered by the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation.

Applicants are required to declare all sources of federal, provincial and/or municipal funding, including the program(s) under which the funding is being provided, in relation to their vineyards.

Application Process

1. Complete and Submit an Application Form

We encourage applicants to review the OVIP website for program information, forms and other resources at www.ontario.ca/improvingvineyards

OMAFRA staff will be available to answer program questions by calling: 1-888-588-4111

A complete application submission will include:

  • Signed Application Form
  • Vineyard Improvement Plan

If the submission is incomplete, OMAFRA reserves the right to deem it ineligible for review and approval. There is no guarantee that OMAFRA will provide applicants with a grace period to remedy deficiencies.

The Program is first-come, first-served and applications for Intake 2 will be time and date stamped simultaneously from all sources commencing on Monday, December 17, 2012 at 10:00 a.m.

Completed applications may be submitted in one of four ways:

  1. By email: ovip@ontario.ca
  2. By fax: (519) 826-3398
  3. Regular mail or in person at:

    Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA)
    Rural Programs Branch
    1 Stone Rd. West, 4th Floor
    Guelph, ON N1G 4Y2

  4. In Person at the following OMAFRA Regional Office locations:

    Advisory Services Building
    Box 8000, 4890 Victoria Avenue North
    Vineland, ON L0R 2E0
    Phone: (905) 562-4147
    Fax: (905) 562-5933

    Box 587, Blueline Road & Highway # 3
    Simcoe, ON N3Y 4N5
    Phone: (519) 426-7120
    Fax: (519) 428-1142

    Agronomy Building
    Box 400, 120 Main Street East
    University of Guelph, Ridgetown Campus
    Ridgetown, ON N0P 2C0
    Phone: (519) 674-1690
    Fax: (519) 674-1564

    R.R. # 3, 95 Dundas Street East
    Brighton, ON K0K 1H0
    Phone: (613) 475-1630
    Fax: (613) 475-3835

For more information about our partners in OVIP, visit the websites below:
Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO)
Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA)

2. Application Review and Approval

Submissions are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis. Intake 3, opening on December 17, 2012 will cover Year 3.

OMAFRA staff will review completed Application Forms, verify the applicant's eligibility, wine grape acreage and calculate the applicant's funding cap.

For Intake 3, once all available funding has been allocated for Year 3, remaining applications will be put into a priority queue These applicants will be at the front of the queue for Year 4funding.

Applications placed in the queue will be assessed for approval when the Intake opens for the next Year for which funding is available.

Please note that all applicants should apply on the relevant application intake date, or as soon as possible thereafter, to maximize their opportunities to be considered for the program.

There is one exception that may require an applicant to reapply to the program. If an approved applicant does not complete the improvements in the approved Year, the applicant may re-apply in a future intake to complete the work, provided that those improvements are still eligible for funding. It should be noted that these
applications still require review and approval, and will be considered after all other new applicants are approved, and if there is still funding available.

3. Offer to Proceed

Once an application is approved, OMAFRA will send an Offer to Proceed to the successful applicant (Recipient) outlining the terms and conditions of the funding, including the list of vineyard improvements approved for reimbursement.

Recipients must pay strict attention to the eligible invoice dates, and adhere to the project claim submission deadlines; otherwise, costs may be considered ineligible for reimbursement.

The recipient must sign the Offer to Proceed and return it to OMAFRA.

4. Claims Process

Upon the completion of one or more approved vineyard improvements, recipients are required to sign and submit a completed Claim Form in order to obtain reimbursement for eligible costs.

It is important to note that OVIP does not fund cost over-runs; the approved funding in any Year cannot be exceeded.

Recipients must complete, or appoint an appropriate designate to complete, the two- day Growing Your Farm Profits Workshop offered by the Ontario Soil and Crop Improvement Association (OSCIA). Growers are strongly encouraged to complete the workshop before applying for OVIP funding, but it is recognized that this may not be practical in all cases.

To find out when and where the workshops are being held, visit the OSCIA calendar here.

Vineyard improvements are subject to verification by an Agricorp field adjuster at OMAFRA's discretion.

Vineyard improvement work may need to be verified while the work is being completed and prior to payment.

The claim submission will include the following where applicable:

  • Copies of invoices and receipts for the work undertaken or equipment purchased;
  • Equipment serial numbers and a detailed description of equipment purchased;
  • Proof of completion of the Growing Your Farm Profits Workshop by the Recipient or Recipient's designate.

5. Performance Measures

In order to serve you better, a completed Performance Measures Questionnaire needs to be submitted before final payment is released. This will enable us to continuously improve the OVIP and the industry as a whole.

Additional Requirements for Applicants Accepted Under OVIP


As a condition of OVIP funding, recipients are responsible for complying with all applicable federal, provincial and municipal laws and regulations.

Failure to comply in any material respect with applicable laws and regulations may result in disqualification from receiving OVIP payments and may require the repayment of any funds received under OVIP to Ontario.

The Government of Ontario, including its ministries and public bodies, are not legally responsible for the consequences if OVIP recipients fail to comply with any applicable laws and regulations.

Information Sharing, Compliance, Audits and Site Inspections

As a condition of OVIP funding, recipients must agree to authorize ministry use of data collected under the Grape Growers of Ontario’s electronic vine management system (VITIS) to enable individual funding caps to be calculated, to provide data for use in verifying applications and to measure performance.

As a condition of OVIP funding, recipients must agree to provide project financial information and permit access for audits, which may include site inspections, to be conducted by OMAFRA and/or its agent(s).

As a condition of OVIP funding, recipients must agree to share information on file with the Government of Ontario, or any of its agencies, in relation to any program which the Government of Ontario has funded, in whole or in part, for the purpose of ensuring against funding duplication and identifying funds that may be owing to the Province under any other provincial funding program.

Once applicants are approved for funding, recipients must comply with the terms and conditions as outlined in these guidelines, the Application Form and the Offer to Proceed.

All signatories to an Application Form are responsible for ensuring the truth and accuracy of all information provided to OMAFRA and/or its agent(s). Any signatory to an Application Form who provides false or misleading information to OMAFRA and/or its agent(s) may be disqualified and required to repay any payments received under OVIP.

OMAFRA will seek to recover any payments from recipients who received a payment under OVIP that they were not eligible to receive in accordance with OMAFRA’s recovery policy and all applicable Acts and Government of Ontario directives regarding the collection of debt. Should a recipient have any pre-existing debts owing to Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Ontario, OMAFRA may recover against that pre-existing debt through a set-off against any payments a recipient may be eligible to receive under OVIP.

Note that OMAFRA reserves the right to revise these guidelines from time to time. It is recommended applicants confirm they have the most recent version of the program guidelines prior to making an application.

Schedule A


    Improvement Category


    Eligible Vineyard Improvements

    Claim Method and Cost Allowance


    Wine Grape Vine Removal


    Removing wine grape vines/stumps/roots from trellis and disposal; trellis, posts, and wire may also be removed and disposed or left in place, where practical

    Flat eligible cost rate of $3067 per acre; must be verified by Agricorp at time of removal


    Vineyard Preparation


    Tile drainage materials and installation

    Receipt-based claim for materials and installation from licensed contractor only; must be verified by Agricorp at time of installation






    Land grading

    Flat eligible cost rate of $850 per acre or receipt based claim; must be verified by Agricorp at time of grading




    Land preparation for planting -  ploughing, discing, cultivating, cover crop seeding

    Flat eligible cost rate of $300 per acre or receipt based claim; must be verified by Agricorp at time of preparation


    Vine Trellis Systems


    Posts, wires and anchor materials

    Receipt-based claim





    Installation of trellis posts, wires and anchors

    Flat eligible cost rate of $1.50 per meter to a cap of 60% of material costs or receipt based claim. Installation measured end post to end post of new rows; must be verified by Agricorp at time of installation


    Consultation with a Viticulture Expert


    Consultation with a viticulture expert (please contact the GGO to obtain a list of qualified viticulture experts)

    Receipt-based claim – GGO approved list of qualified viticulture experts only



    Improved Viticulture Practices


    Mechanical pre-pruning machine

    Receipt based claim




    Mechanical leaf remover, vine trimmer or hedger;

    Receipt-based claim




    Soil amendment spreading machine (side dressing-type equipment for compost or mulch, but not manure spreaders)

    Receipt-based claim




    Weed control equipment other than sprayers

    Receipt-based claim




    Sub-soiling equipment, Soil Aerator, Roto-tiller

    Receipt-based claim




    Purchase of drift reduction sprayers, 4 row sprayer or equipment modification for improved spray application

    Receipt-based claim




    Prunings shredder (not mowers)

    Receipt-based claim




     Specialized Equipment (*tractor (see below), dump wagon, tote bin, grape harvester, 3 point hitch, harvester attachment that removes stems and leaves)

     Receipt-based claim



     0509 Installation of a GPS guidance
    system on vineyard
     Receipt-based claim


    Reducing Cold Injury


    Purchase and installation of wind machine or like equipment

    Receipt-based claim from qualified contractor




    Relocating stationary wind machine

    Receipt-based claim from qualified contractor; must be verified by Agricorp at time of relocation




    Hilling up vine equipment

    Receipt-based claim





    Insulating fabric for winter
    protection (including motor)

    Receipt-based claim


    Improved Irrigation


    Purchase of trickle irrigation equipment, including flow meter (mandatory)

    Receipt based claim





    Installation of trickle irrigation system

    Flat eligible cost rate of $0.40 per metre of grape row; will be subject to Agricorp





    Catchments basin

    Receipt based claim



    Pest Management



    Non acoustical pest management systems (bird netting, night guard retrofit , electric fencing)

    Receipt-based claim


    Improved Weather Sensing


    Purchase or modification of sensing/monitoring equipment related to wind machine operation (including transition to natural gas)

    Receipt-based claim from a qualified contractor




    Purchase  of soil moisture sensors and like equipment

    Receipt-based claim




    Purchase of purpose-designed software to manage weather data

    Receipt-based claim




    Equipment to measure plant moisture stress (pressure bomb)

    Receipt-based claim

Tractor Specifications:

  • Crawler tractor
  • Tractors 25 to 125 hp (pto)
  • Outside tire width adjustable to 78" or less
  • 2wd or 4wd
  • Should be able to accommodate front three point hitch and pto
  • Must have rear three point hitch and rear 540 or 1000 pto
  • Minimum 2 selective control valves

Ineligible Costs
Ineligible costs include, but are not limited to:

  • Cost of new vines
  • Cost of planting new vines
  • Any winery specific equipment
  • Purchase or rental of land and buildings
  • Purchase of jointly-owned equipment
  • Purchase of used machinery and equipment other than from an authorized dealer
  • Lease or rental costs of machinery and equipment (unless included in cost per acre limits)
  • Purchase of general farm equipment (e.g., manure spreader, tractor)
  • Materials in a farm's inventory
  • Costs for on-going testing in the vineyard
  • Pesticides or other pest control chemicals or substances
  • Purchase of general purpose computer software
  • Direct wage subsidies for employees
  • Debt restructuring, fundraising or financing costs
  • Meals, entertainment and alcohol
  • Costs incurred prior to April 1, 2012
  • Costs incurred at times outside the eligible invoice dates
  • Costs associated with completing the Application Form, Claim Form or any other program-related forms
  • Costs associated with project planning, supervision, or administration
  • Normal or on-going business costs
  • Legal costs
  • HST

For more information:
Telephone: 1-888-588-4111 or
Email: ovip@ontario.ca

For more information:
Toll Free: 1-877-424-1300
E-mail: ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca
Author: Firstname SPACE Lastname SPACE HYPHEN SPACE Title/Affiliation
(eg. John Doe - Crop Specialist/University of Guelph)
Use a SEMI COLON to separate multiple entries:
(eg. John Doe - Crop Specialist/University of Guelph; Jane Doe - Crop Specialist/OMAFRA)
Creation Date: dd SPACE fullmonth SPACE yyyy
Last Reviewed: dd SPACE fullmonth SPACE yyyy