Canada experienced a boom in its wine production, at the end of the 20th century.
Despite this late outburst, the first explorers had discovered the presence of wild vines on the Île d’Orléans, Québec, as early as 1535. It was named “Bacchus Island” after that.
It was the French settlers who first developed the vines on the territory, under this continental climate with extreme temperatures; where you can experience very hot summers and polar winters.
If Canada had once a bad reputation of poor quality wine producers, the success of Canadian wines in international competitions testifies to the qualitative growth of its production.
In Canada, the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) is the equivalent of the French AOP or the Italian DOC.
In 2020, the Canadian vineyard extended over more than 12,000 hectares.
The 2 major premium wine regions are :
- Ontario: The main wine region in Canada.
Production is concentrated in the Niagara Peninsula, where the climate is relatively tempered by the presence of the Great Lakes. There are mostly Chardonnay and Riesling.
You can also find hybrids such as Seyval, Maréchal Foch (hybrid of Pinot Noir and Gamay), Chaunac (which gives dark and full-bodied wines) and Vidal.
- British Columbia: The Okanagan Valley is the most important. The most common varieties are Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
The climate in Ontario is quite ideal to produce the famous Icewine, a true nectar.
The method of vinification of ice wine consists of concentrating the sugar and acidity in the grapes as much as possible before harvesting. The grapes must be harvested at a temperature of at least -7° after having frozen on the vine in a natural way.
Vidal makes wines of very good quality and the Riesling of great finesse.
Following the trend, some winemakers even decided to produce red ice wines, with Cabernet Franc!