I recently returned from the library. I went to pick up a wine book I had on order. No, I may not be in school anymore, but I still love to read and learn more about this thing called wine....
And while I was leaving the library, I became entranced with the number of fallen leaves. Not because they had fallen off the tree, but because they were maple leaves. It didn't matter the size or the colour, it was the symmetry of the leaf itself, and the fact that every time I see one, I see the country where I was born, raised, and live my life. That's Canada, and that same maple leaf is on our flag.
Canada is a bit behind as far as making wine. We are a cold continental climate after all. Not overly conducive to growing grapes and making wine. There are a few pockets in this vast country though that make some outstanding wine.
Even though we've been producing for over 200 years, it wasn't the Vitis vinifera that was being planted. Other native species like the Vitis labrusa and Vitus riparia were being used, along with various hybrids. This didn't seem to be what worked for Canadians.
Later, there came a demand for sweet, fortified wines, followed by a shift to drier, low alcohol table wines. At the same time, there were significant improvements in wine-making technology; including access to better grape varieties and disease-resistant clones, and systematic research into viticulture. It was found that Vitis vinifera could indeed be successfully grown in Canada.
Now that you've had your history lesson, let me tell you this: I wish, I wish, I wish...that Canadian wines were more affordable. I think we are one of the few countries who pays a LOT of money for wine from their own back yard. Of course, there are factors involved in WHY we pay so much, but I won't get into that in this posting.
If I lived in Spain or Italy, or even Chile and Argentina, I can guarantee you, I'd be drinking some fantastic wines for prices lower than dirt. That being said, there are more than a few Canadian wines I recommend to people when they come to buy. And they're not opposed to spending $30 (or more). Considering that some fabulous wines from Spain run about $15-$17, I wonder why they choose to spend that much. I think it's because they've been to that back yard...they've taken the time to visit the vineyards in the Okanagan Valley (or perhaps the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario). They've taken the time to taste them, to savour them, and to bring a little piece (or a bottle :)) back with them.
In the end, it's come down to this: folks love their Canadian wine, and they choose to spend the money and buy it because it's from Canada.
Here are some of my favourite Canadian wines:
Grey Monk Pinot Gris - fresh and fruity with balanced acidity
Mt. Boucherie Pinot Noir - easy drinking and soft tannins
Burrowing Owl Syrah - beautiful and full bodied with lots of black fruit and pepper
Black Hills Summit Reserve - Bordeaux blend made in the style of French Bordeaux
Therapy Vineyards Pink Freud Roset - clever labelling; fresh strawberries!