Join me in celebrating Canada's birthday by drinking Canadian wines this coming July 1. I have a few wine recommendations for the holiday weekend that are uniquely Canadian. These wines are from grape varietals or blends that showcase what Canadian wine is all about and how special each region is in Canada. Sure, we make wines that you can probably find somewhere else, but our cool climate terroir with its suitable soils and unique grape varieties, make beauitful wines you just can't find any where else. Our wine production might be small compared to other regions in the world, but our wines are world-class and their winning awards in competitions against some of the best regions in the world. If you're Canadian, be proud of the wines we make in Canada because they are made with passion for our land. If you're not Canadian, pick up a bottle of wine made in Canada to celebrate our nation's birthday and be sure to plan your next wine vacation here to visit one of the most beautiful wine regions in the world.
Wines of the Okanagan Valley British Columbia (BC)
Steven Spurrier said it best, "For me, wine is the three Ps: the place, the people and the product. British Columbia ticks all of these boxes with exuberance, elegance and conviction." Over a million people visit BC wine country every year. Not only because of the excellent wines, but also because of our Canadian charm. The Okanagan Valley is the largest wine region within BC with approximately 8,620 acres planted to vines and 174 licensed wineries.
Evolve Cellars White Effervescence: You don't usually find Pinot Blanc and Chardonnay blended together in a sparkling wine. It's a soft wine with complexity and a hint of sweetness, but all you really need to know is that it's delicious. Celebrate Canada Day by poping the crown cap on this non-snobby bottle of bubbles and raise a glass to the True North!
McWatters Collection Meritage: You won't find this wine just anywhere becuase production for the two McWatters wines (the other is a Chardonnay) equals less than a 1000 cases per vintage. The wine bears the name of Harry McWatters, a strong supporter of quality, truth in labeling, the VQA and education in the Okanagan Valley. Mr McWatters is a well-known wine pioneer in the Valley who has been vital promoting and elevating the quality of British Columbia wines. Meritage is a legally protected name that indicates only noble Bordeaux grape varieties are used in the blend. It's a combination of the words "merit" and "heritage" and is pronounced as such (ie: it is not a French word!)
Alberta (AB) Wines
Alberta doesn't make wine from vitis vinifera... yet. Most people will tell you that the climate is not suitable. However, there are plenty of alternatives to grapes when it comes to winemaking. Albertans are innovative, strong and maybe a little stubborn, too. When an Albertan sees and obstacle, they find a way through it. Such is the case with Spirit Hills Honey Winery near Millarville, Alberta. A family owned and operated winery, offering wines made with local ingredients. Not to be confused with mead, these grape-less wines with various flavour profiles will impress even the most discerning wine palate.
Spirit Hills Wild Rosy Rosé: Made with Alberta’s official flower, the wild rose, the wine has a very light rose petal aroma and flavour with a hint of sweetness. Not only a great patio wine, but exceptionally food-friendly all year round. Silver Medal winner of the All Canadian Wine Championships in Toronto. Served Chilled.
Wines of Prince Edward County, Ontario (ON)
Along scenic country roads and miles of striking shoreline along Lake Ontario and the Bay of Quinte, you’ll find artists studios, antique shops, rolling, white sand dunes and charming small towns. Prince Edward County is quickly becoming one of Canada’s most desired tourist destinations. It has also been making a name for itself in Canadian wine as Ontario’s fastest growing wine region.
Hinterland Whitecap 2017 Method Charmat: Named after the whitecaps of Lake Ontario, the Whitecap is a charmat method sparkling wine. If you like prosecco, you'll love this sparkling wine. Jonas Newman & Vicki Samaras have a small family-run farm in Prince Edward County that produces only premium sparkling wine and cider.
Dog House VQA Red Blend: Three Dog Winery is home to Canada’s first yoga studio/winery, lovingly run by John and Sacha Squair. The Squair’s began their vineyard journey in 2000, and opened their doors to the public in 2014 offering fantastic, affordable wines. The red blend is an easy-drinking, medium body dark fruit flavoured delight. Great value and perfect for a Canada Day BBQ or for sipping while you watch the fireworks.
Nova Scotia (NS) Wines
They make wine in Nova Scotia? Really? Yes, really. There are about 800 acres under vine in 7 different regions across the province, including beautiful vineyards situated in the Gaspereau Valley on the Bay of Fundy. With warm summers, the moderating influence of the Atlantic ocean, and a cooler growing season, the wines of Nova Scotia can rival some of the great wines of the Mosel and Champagne. Fruit intensity and racy acidity in perfect harmony is unmatched in Nova Scotia.The climate and terroir give winemakers an opportunity to showcase unique grape varieties to make fresh and lively wines
Benjamin Bridge Nova 7: I promise you will never drink anything else in the world like the Nova 7. Intense floral aroma and a bucket load of tropical fruit flavours and a crisp clean finish. Remarkably refreshing. It has become a fan favourite, selling out year after year. "The name ‘Nova 7’ encompasses so much of what has made this wine “an East Coast trailblazer”. Nova pays homage to the winemakers’ commitment to a wine that could only be made in the Province of Nova Scotia." (Full quote here.) The number 7 is significant because it was 2007 when the first commercial vintage was released, there are 7 wine regions in Nova Scotia, and 2017 was an outstanding vintage giving the best snapshot of what this Canadian province is capable of in the global wine industry.
Avondale Sky Reserve Marechal Foch: Nothing says Canadian wine like Marechal Foch. A great accompaniment to game so if you're grilling up some venison sausage this weekend, make sure you've got a bottle of Foch on hand. The coolest part of Avondale Sky winery is how they've incorporated pieces of the area into the winerynot only to tell a story of the region, but to save some of these pieces from being destroyed. In particular, the St. Matthews Church from Walton was saved and moved 42 kilometres away, which included a 24 hour ferry ride. The church, buildt in 1844, has been a labour of love for the winery owners and won the Nova Scotia Heritage Trust’s 2011 Heritage Built Award.
Canadian Icewine for Canada Day
This list wouldn't be complete if I didn't include icewine. After all, this is what we're most known for and even though it's not the only style of wine we do, our icewine is second to none. It may have been Germany that made it first, but I would be so bold as to say, now we do it better. If you're not sure what icewine is, basically the grapes are frozen on the vine in order to concentrate the sugars and flavours. It must be hand harvested at night at a temperature of at least -8 C and immediately pressed. It's a decadent wine for a special occasion. I think Canada Day is exactly the right special occasion for a bottle of Canadian icewine.
Stoneboat 2013 Pinotage Icewine: The world's only Pinotage icewine. It opens with sweet honeyed fig on the nose, followed by baked red fruits, raisins, and dried cranberries with a tart finish. I have a bottle of this at home in an older vintage. I've been saving it for a special occasion. I believe this Canada Day will be exactly the right time for this icewine.
Inniskillin Riesling Icewine: You have to get the acidity just right to balance out the sugar in icewine. If you don't, you may as well have a shot of vodka followed by a shot of pancake syrup. And while there's nothing more Canadian than maple syrup, it's not great for doing shots (so I've been told). Acidity is the backbone of wine and especially with a wine as sweet as icewine. The Inniskillin is a classic Riesling icewine with flavours of apricot and honey, that finishes clean and lively.
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