Hailing from the Southwest originally, my family was more likely to head across the border to Mexico for vacation than trek northward. And yet now that I'm living in Boston and the Canadian border is not terribly far away, I've never been. That's not to say I haven't heard of the wonderful wines they are producing - particularly their ice wine. Yes, note the operative words: "heard of". From what I understand, it's impossible to buy Canadian wines here in the US. I'm not sure if this is just wrapped up in legalities on either side of the border or if there just isn't enough wine to go around. Perhaps a little of both. Needless to say, it seems Canada is a sneaky, sleeping giant when it comes to wine. In the western most region of the country, British Columbia, they experience a climate much like our own Washington State. Lake Okanagan keeps winter freeze at bay and otherwise there are parts of BC that are so dry it could be considered a desert. The summer temperatures are much more reasonable than you might expect and, in fact, allow some great early-ripening grape varietals to thrive. Not to mention the fact the acidity in their wines are destined to be high - yea refreshing, clean, wines (think New Zealand)!
On the other side of the country Ontario is an ever up-and-coming region in itself. Ice wine (aka "liquid gold") is a guarantee every year. It is a semi-continental climate in those parts, with fantastic support (i.e. more temperate conditions) offered by the vast lakes in the region. Vines do surprisingly well, particularly those producing varietals like Riesling. Pinot Noir is considered a grape with great potential in the Price Edward county, where limestone soil is a natural partner for the Pinot family.
Why is Canada on my radar today, this News/Events/Trends Friday? Well, Wines & Vines reported this week the Canadians are banding together to get their wines ready for export. They don't produce much, but what they do produce is noteworthy. They are eager to become more of a player on the international wine stage. Check out the article to learn the latest first hand.
What's your knowledge of Canadian wines? Have you been so lucky to have a sip?