Canadian Wine Regions

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007 at 12:00 am

canada vineyardCanada’s wine industry is continuously growing with the maturity and growth being attributed to the production of high end, quality wines that has been the recent trend in the country’s wine production.

According to reports, more than 358 million liters of wine were consumed in 2005. Although, it seems that most of the wine sales still came from imported wines from France and Italy. Nevertheless, vintners are hopeful that domestic production of wines will soon catch up. The current market demands have been gearing towards quality wines despite their higher prices.

Major wine drinkers in the country belong to Quebec, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Traditionally, Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and the Niagara Region of Ontario are considered the best source of Canadian wines. However, Quebec and Nova Scotia are now being included in the list as main wineries and as emerging newer wine regions in the country.

British Columbia

Located in the western part of Canada, British Columbia has four designated areas where main vineyards are located and wine making is successfully being practiced. The four areas are the Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Vancouver Island, and Fraser Valley.

The Okanagan Valley is by far the largest and oldest region in British Columbia where grapes are grown. Grape growing and wine making in the area goes back to as fas as the mid 1800s. The valley has more than 4000 acres (1500 hectares) of land planted with premium grape varieties, 40 wineries, and a volume of production that makes up for the 95 percent of the province’s wine.

Due to the fact that climatic conditions in valley vary, so do the grape varieties grown here. Red Bordeaux varieties like the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot are usually grown in the southern parts of the valley where the temperature is warmer. Meanwhile, the German varieties Siegerrebe, Sylvaner, Optima and Ortega are cultivated in the cooler northern regions. Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay, however, seem to be cultivated well at the center of the Okanagan Valley.

Similkameen Valley is located west of the Okanagan Valley. The valley has only two wineries and has a mere 195 acre of cultivated vineyards. Similar is the situation in Vancouver Island off British Columbia’s southwest coast. The island has an estimated of 135 acres of land dedicated for grapes planting and wine making. Meanwhile, Fraser Valley so far has only one grape winery to speak of. This area is well suited to grow Sylvaner, Optima, Gewürztraminer and even Pinot Noir.

Ontario

Most of Canada’s homegrown wines can be found in Ontario. The region boasts of 15,000 acres of wine grape vineyards which produces wines that ranges from dry table wines, to sparkling wines, dessert wines and fortified wines.

With a great climate, vineyards in Ontario are able to cultivate more than 60 varieties of classic European grapes. Grown in the area include the main white vinifera varieties like Riesling, Chardonnay, Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc as well as the vinifera reds such as the Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Areas in Ontario where vineyards and winemaking industry is concentrated is in the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, and Pelee Island.

Quebec and Nova Scotia

In the meantime, there about 30 wineries in Québec, 350 acres of vineyards, and a wine volume of production reaching 25,000 cases per year. Most of the wines in Quebec are whites and the rest are reds, digestifs, sparkling and dessert wines.

Admittedly, Nova Scotia is more known as a fishing area rather than a winemaking region. Nevertheless, the 26 vintners in the region that manages more than 325 acres of vineyards are beginning to make their mark as one of the country’s main source of quality wines. Grown in the area are mostly French hybrid varieties but you can see a few Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties here and there.