The history of vitiviniculture of Quebec can be traced back to French clergy who experimented with wine production after they settled and had to cater to the spiritual needs of their congregations. The good priests tried to make wine form native vitis labrusca or vitis riparia grape varieties, which the Vikings found on the eastern shores of North America when they arrived around 1000 A.D.
Soon they had to abandon their experiments, as the congregation would not tolerate the unusual, highly acidic and overly fruity wines even for communion.
The commercial history of Quebec’s vitiviniculture starts with Loyalists fleeing the U S A during the American Revolutionary War (1775), and who settled in the Eastern Townships (Durham, Cowansville, St. Alexandre, Havelock and St. Barbe), which still today represents the heart of viticulture of the province. Even the valiant efforts of Loyalist settlers to grow suitable grapes for wine ended up unsuccessful. The extraordinary cold winters (temperatures dipping below – 30 C), killed vines, particularly vitis vinifera grapes that yield fine wines providing climatic conditions during the growing season are sufficiently dry and warm.
Although Quebec’s climate has remained relatively constant since the 16th century, technology, the art of selecting vineyard sites, clonal selection, knowledge, and pruning for low yields continue to improve quality and even survival of vineyards that would have died only a few decades ago.
Viticultural advances are nothing short of phenomenal as are wine making techniques including de-acidification, capitalization, pressing, and aging, just to name a few.
Quebec’s modern vitivinicultural industry started in the 1980’s with Herve Durand, a French oenologist with some cold-climate grape growing experience gained in the USSR settled in the province and decided to plant a vineyard. The vines survived the severe winter as he wisely had decided to bury them before the cold weather arrived.
The first boutique winery Domaine de l’Orpailleur (gold panner) is the largest with 70,000 bottles annual production, whereas the whole industry produces a total of 250 000 bottles from 180 hectares of vineyards planted to a variety of white and red hybrid and vinifera grapes. (SEE bar)
Another famous winery Vignoble les Arpents de Neige is named after the famous quip of an 18th century French official: “ Why bother with a few acres of snow (arpents de neiges)” referring to the province of Quebec.
Most of the boutique wineries cater to the wine drinking population of Montreal, and sell their small production from their stores that are also used as tasting rooms.
To date, 30 boutique wineries operate in the province. Large industrial wineries import bulk wine or grape juice from California, Chile, Argentina, France, Italy, Australia and other countries to process. Resulting wines are price-point efforts offering little more than alcohol and some semblance of taste.
Boutique wineries’ products are low alcohol, pale and acid-driven, occasionally pleasant and fine with creamy dishes and cheeses. Vignoble Chapelle St. Agnes, produces remarkable icewines exuding dried fruit (apples, pears and apricots) aromas, displaying depth of flavour, and balance. All finish with remarkably long aftertaste.
Recently a few red wines from Carone Vineyard in Lanoraie located northwest of Montreal were tasted, which were quite well made and enjoyable.
Over time, with some effort, Quebec’s wineries will produce mid-priced wines reflecting the terroir of the region. It all depends on the determination of a few dedicated vineyardists.
Marechal Foch, De Chaunac, Chambourcin, St. Croix, Seyval Noir, Leon-Millot, Luci Kuhlmann, Cabernet Severnyi, Bacchus, Gamay, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Pinto Noir, Frontenac, Sabrevois, Landot Noir.
White: Seyal Blanc, Louise Swenson, Swenson, Vidal, La Crosse, Prairie Star, Frontenac Gris, Delisle, St Pepin, Vandal-Cliché, Geisenheim 311, 318, 328, Cayuga, Enona, Chardonnay clones, Aurora, Pinto Gris, Vineland 50201, Riesling, Ortega, Siegerrebe, Kay Gray, Mishurinetz, Saperavi, Rkatsiteli
Vignoble Morou, Vignole Sous les Charmilles, Carone Vineyard, Co-op Prodcuteur Viticole Bourge-Royale, Domaine Royanois, Vignoble Angile, Vignoble Isle de Bacchus, Vignoble Le Moulin du Petit Pre, Clos St Denis Verger-Vignoble, Vignoble Angell, Vignoble Cappabianca, Vignoble Clos de la Montagne, Vignoble des Negondas, Vignoble des Pins, Vignoble Detrich-Joos, Vignoble du Marathonien, Vignoble Leojer St. Pierre, Domaine Felibre, Vignoble Les Cante des Vignes, Vignoble des Pervenchers, Vignoble Chapelle St. Angnes, Vignoble de l’Aurore Boreale, Vignoble de Sabliere, Vignoble de l’Ardennais, Vignoble Domaine des Cote d’Ardoise, Vignoble de la Bauge, Vignoble la Cep d’Argent, Vignoble les Blanc Coteaus, Vignoble les Arpents de Neige
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.