This month, we’re travelling from New Zealand to explore top producing wine regions of the world at home. Viticulture in Canada is about 2,000 years old. The regulatory body is called Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) which provides a degree of quality assurance to consumers. Canada leads the world in ice wine production but also creates wonderful wines both in quality and quantity. Let’s visit the top two wine producing regions here, the Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley.
First, we’ll go to the world renowned Niagara Peninsula region in Ontario. It’s located on the southwestern shore of Lake Ontario and also on the northeastern shore of Lake Erie. Most vineyards are located around Lake Erie and Lake Ontario which help moderate the continental climate. Summers are long, warm and sunny followed by cold winters, making it perfect for ice wine production.
Soils are comprised of well-drained glacial till and lacustrine sediments under gentle slopes which is ideal for winegrowing. Vines are located on the north slopes so they enjoy uninterrupted sunlight throughout the growing season. The Niagara Escarpment, which is a limestone ridge, helps protect vineyards from cold coming from the south.
Most whites are made with Chardonnay and Riesling but Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Vidal Blanc and Gewürztraminer are also made. Most reds are made with Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir but Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are also important.
Let’s visit a few wineries in Prince Edward County, Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Escarpment and Niagara on the Lake. We’ll take our time because there are so many wines to experience here. Be sure to try some ice wine on this tour because it’s a treat!
On our last wine tour, we’re coming home to central British Columbia and the Okanagan Valley region.
It’s virtually surrounded by mountain ranges which provide protection from western maritime influences of the Pacific Ocean and northern Arctic winds. Most vineyards are located near beautiful Okanagan Lake, which is a tourist destination.
Soils are comprised of glacial deposits like sand, clay and rock, which means vineyards are well-drained. The area, which has desert-like conditions, enjoys a warm continental climate. Because humidity is low, the air cools quickly at night and this allows grapes to ripen slowly, developing a balance of acidity and sugars.
Most whites are made with Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Riesling but other varietals are also grown. However, Viognier, Gewürztraminer, Ehrenfelser, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Pinot Blanc and Bacchus are grown, some being used to create rare blends. Most reds are made with Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon but others are also grown. For example, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Marechal Foch, Malbec, Petit Verdot and Zweigelt. The area also makes some very popular Bordeaux blends.
Let’s visit a few wineries in the Golden Mile Bench, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Falls and lastly the Skaha Bench. Similar to Ontario, we’ll take our time because there are so many wines to experience here.
Steveston Winemakers carries an amazing Okanagan Meritage which was our top seller in 2019. Also, a wonderful BC Pinot Noir and a beautiful Ontario Sauvignon Blanc. If you like ice wines, Riesling and Vidal are on our menu.
I hope you enjoyed our last tour, which took us to two of my favourite wine regions of the world. There are many other regions in these two beautiful provinces as well as 7 other provinces.
This is the last article in this blog series. Please share by clicking on the share icon on the upper right corner of your screen. Thank you for joining me on this tour of top wine producing regions of the world.