Canadian Wines Get Chance to Shine

By MacPhee-Sigurdson, Ben | Winnipeg Free Press, December 31, 2016 | Go to article overview

Canadian Wines Get Chance to Shine


MacPhee-Sigurdson, Ben, Winnipeg Free Press


There are several reasons to be excited about Canadian wine, and as it stands, all signs point to homegrown wines getting a major boost in 2017.

First off, the theme region for the 2017 Winnipeg Wine Festival is "Wines of Canada," meaning there will be a whole bunch of new Canadian wines making their way into the province this spring. Arriving with those wines will be winemakers, winery owners and export managers in Winnipeg pouring and explaining their wines to the thirsty masses at the fest.

I'm a big advocate of Canadian wines, and heading into 2017 I'm more optimistic than ever. This year alone I judged Canadian vino at the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada, the Judgment of B.C., the B.C. Wine Awards and at the local iteration of Gold Medal Plates. In short, I tasted a lot of Canadian wines this year -- a number somewhere in the hundreds.

So trust me when I say, yet again, there's reason to be fired up about wine made in this country.

In B.C., the Okanagan Valley continues to produce stellar wines that vary greatly based on where they originate -- from lighter whites and reds from the north around Kelowna to bigger, richer wines coming from Osoyoos and everything in between. Changes are afoot to designate more Vintner's Quality Alliance (VQA) sub-appellations in the Okanagan Valley, meaning a label will eventually specify all the grapes came from the Naramata Bench region (or Osoyoos, or Okanagan Falls, etc.) in addition to mentioning the Okanagan Valley. Regardless, some of the country's best Syrahs are made throughout the valley.

But look beyond the Okanagan Valley and there are more gems to be found from British Columbia. Producers in the Similkameen Valley continue to ramp up the quality of their wines, while there are some pretty good lighter wines being made on Vancouver Island as well. Here's hoping more land in Manitoba soon.

Ontario producers, meanwhile, continue embracing the hand they've been given by Mother Nature as well; winemakers are doing a killer job making wines that thrive outside of warmer/Mediterranean climates. Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay and sparkling wines still lead the charge, with Riesling in particular highlighting the diversity in climate and soil among Niagara's sub-regions. It would be nice to see more Cabernet Franc from Niagara making its way here, as well as wines from the Prince Edward County located at the east end of Lake Ontario.

The last time the Winnipeg Wine Festival featured Canadian wines, the theme was "Wines of Ontario/Wines of B. …

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