By all account, Canadian wine quality has improved immensely in the last four decades, both in Ontario and British Columbia. What took European countries several centuries to achieve, Canadian winemakers have been able to accomplish in a relatively short time. This is mostly due to investment, market forces, marketing efforts, improved education and communication with traditional producers, and wine knowledge in general.
While the country is huge, there are only two small areas of land suitable for viticulture – Ontario and British Columbia. Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Price Edward Island also produce wine but in relatively small quantities.
In Ontario, the Niagara Peninsula is the largest region, followed by Lake Erie North Shore, Prince Edward County, and Pelee Island.
The Niagara peninsula now has several sub-appellations based on climatic data.
British Columbia’s wine regions are the Okanagan Valley, Vancouver island, Vancouver Coast and the Fraser valley. The Vancouver Island Appellation has the following sub-appellations – Cowichan valley, Saanich Peninsula, Gulf Islands, Comox Valley and the Okanagan Valley is subdivided into Kelowna, Naramata, Thompson, Okanagan Falls, Oliver Osoyoos and Black Sage Bench, and Similkameen Valley.
More and more capital is being invested in vineyards, education and wineries, as entrepreneurs realize the per capita consumption is still relatively low (approximately 10 litres), but potentially very lucrative.
In the past only two large wine organizations dominated the market. Competition between them was negligible and quality questionable at best,
Toda, Ontario alone boasts close to 150 wineries, with British Columbia approximately 100. Most are small to medium-sized wineries and compete on quality.
While Canadian wine quality has noticeably improved, there exist still millions who prefer imported brands, which is lamentable. Local industry should always have preference over imported merchandise, so long as the quality is high or even acceptable.
Romans established that maxim long ago, and all Europeans follow it to this day. They used to say: Your country is wherever you make a good living.”
If you are in Piedmont, do not dare ask for a Tuscan or Sicilian wine. The same holds true in France, except Paris.
All wine lists in wine producing European countries and elsewhere in
the world feature local wine.
I wish all restaurant patrons in Canada would ask for Canadian wines first.
Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia do not produce enough to meet domestic consumption, but free provincial wine trade and low taxation would help alleviate some difficulties wineries encounter.
Several wineries in Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia produce very fine red, white and sparkling wines.
Nova Scotia’s Benjamin Bridge Winery markets a fine sparkling wine made form locally grown grapes.
Next time you shop for wine, request VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) from anyone of the following wineries (See bar).
Do not confuse VQA with those that are labelled Cellared in Canada which means up to 85 per cent of the wine in bottle consists of inexpensive imported bulk wine.
British Columbians are fond of their province’s wine. The government allows stores that sell only VQA wines.
Ontario should follow that policy.
Recommended Ontario wineries:
Flat Rock Cellars, Vineland Estates, 13th Street Winery, Tawse Wines, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery Hidden bench Estate Winery, Foreign Affairs Estate Winery, Chateau des Charmes Winery, Malivoire Wines, Colaneri Estate Winery, Reif Estate Winery, Coyote’s Run Estate Winery, Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery, Cattail Creek Estate Winery, Lailey Vineyards, Marynissen Estate Winery, Pillitteri Estate Winery, Ravine Vineyards Estate Winery, Southbrook Vineyards, Stratus Winery, Closson Chase Estate Winery, Huff Estate Winery, Norman Hardie Estate Winery, Rosehall Run Estate Winery, Pelee Island Winery, Smith and Wesson Estate Winery Springwood Shores Estate Winery, Alvento Winery, Calamus Estate Winery, Fielding Estate Winery, Mike Weir Wine, Peninsula Ridge Estate Winery.
Recommended British Columbia wineries;
Cedarcreek Estate Winery, Gray Monk Estate Winery, Sandhill Estate Winery, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Dirty Laundry Vineyard, Laughing Stock Vineyard, Gehringer Brothers Estate Winery, Blasted Church Vineyard, Domaine de Chaberton, Domain Combret Estate Winery, Hester Creek Estate Winery, Red Rooster Winery, Osyoos Larose Estate Winery, Nichol Vineyards Estate Winery, Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.