Description 1 of 2

 

Canada’s wine-making history is relatively short. Beginning in the early 1800s, some of the early European settlers experimented with planting vinifera species from their home country, but these often succombed to vine diseases in the heat and humidity of summers, and froze to death in the frigid winters. However, indigenous grapes could withstand these conditions. European varietals were still being tested, but labrusca and riparia grapes and their hybrids such as Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Baco Noir, Concord, Niagara, Duchess and Maréchal Foch made up the majority of the wines. Suffice to say, these were not the stuff of global acclaim. 
 
In the early 1900s, Canada saw a sweeping temperance movement that enacted a Prohibition in most of the provinces from 1901 in Prince Edward Island, ending for most of the country in 1930 (Prince Edward Island finally relented in 1948). This had similar consequences and blackmarket equivocations as the American one. 
 
It wasn’t until after the World Wars and the consumer shift from preferring sweet wines to drier styles that the Canadian wine industry stepped things up. In the 1960s, better technology in wine-growing and production allowed local wine-makers to work with better quality, cool-climate vinifera grapes. Riesling, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier could be planted and maintained for whites. Reds consist of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Gamay Noir, Merlot and Syrah. 
 
Through the latter part of the 20th century into the 21st, Candian wines saw vast improvements in production and quality. Wine societies were formed in the provinces to support and promote the local wine industries. 
 
Ontario Rieslings were the first to garner attention for their excellence. These are produced in every style from dry to sweet, including Botrytis (“noble rot”) dessert wines and Icewines from frozen late harvest grapes. The Vidal grape is also suited to late harvest wines and Icewine styles and has become a notable regional specialty. 
 
Cabernet Franc has become the starring red grape throughout most of Canada, finding its own expressions in different regions. While it is only used as a blending grape in Bordeaux, as in the Loire, Cabernet Franc is capable of high quality solo work as a single varietal release. These range from medium-bodied fruity and herbal versions to styles with denser cassis and chocolate characteristics through extended oak ageing. 
 
Gamay Noir is the specialty of Ontario. These range from young, fruity wines in the carbonic maceration style of Beaujolais Nouveaux to those with more extensive ageing and richer flavors. Bordeaux varietals and blends are also popular in Ontario and British Columbia. 
 
Niagara specializes in Pinot Noir. This region is styling itself to become a North American Burgundy, with expressions of this varietal showing great range, along with its white Burgundian counterpart, Chardonnay.
 
The major wine-growing regions of Canada are:
 
*British Columbia: includes Okanagan Valley, Similkameen Valley, Fraser Valley, The Gulf Islands, and Vancouver Island.
*Ontario: includes Pelee Island, Niagara Peninsula, and Lake Erie North Shore.
*Québec
*Nova Scotia ~Amanda Schuster
– Description from Amanda Schuster

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Description 2 of 2

Canadian wines are experiencing new heights of domestic and international recognition. Much of this attention has to do with the phenomenal success of Canadian Icewine, but impressive table wine production is not limited to frozen grapes. In British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, thriving local wine industries produce a diverse range of styles of wines using a combination of Vitis Vinifera and hybrid grapes. The volume of domestic table wine production has seen significant growth over the last decade. Between 1995 and 2002, according to the Canadian Vintners Association, table wine production in Canada increased by 33% from 56,721,492 litres to 75,861,630 litres. Just under 10% of this is labeled as VQA, but this represents a three fold increase over the same time period. The VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) is the standard, modeled after European appellation of origin systems, used by Ontario and British Columbia to regulate the production of wine. In Canada, wine production, distribution, purchasing and sales of all alcoholic products are regulated by the individual provinces, although the federal government’s Department of Industry regulates the packing and labeling of wines and other alcohol. The unfortunate result is a fragmented industry with few national standards. Until a national standard which is fair to all the wine growing regions is created, many of the wines using the Canadian appellation will continue to be a misrepresentation of the style of wines created in the country from domestically grown grapes. – Description from Appellation America (view original content)

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