Our wine industry is just an infant compared other wine regions. However, in the last 30 + years we have gone through a revolution.
In 2017, it was reported that Canada has 734 wineries across the country. We have a national consumption of 496 million litres of wine annually and I am sure that the average has increased considerably during the pandemic.
In 1955 T. G. Bright in Niagara released a 100% Chardonnay from its experimental vineyard. It is the first pure Vitis Vinifera to be released in North America east of the Mississippi. Wines were made prior to 1955 however they were with either native grapes or grapes other than Vitis vinifera.
Canda does have its own appellation system called the Vintner’s Quality Alliance (VQA). This system was first developed in Ontario after the enactment of the US- Canada Free trade agreement in 1988. These industry standards became legislated into law in 1999.
This system is voluntary however most wineries participate. BC followed suit in 1990 and became law in 2005. Quebec and Nova Scotia does not have a VQA system set in place. In both Ontario and BC, it is up to each winery to seek VQA status.
Wine production in Canada does include a large volume of wines from imported grapes, must or wine. Wines made with an international component must be labeled with either “International blend from imported and domestic wines” or International blend from domestic and imported wines”. Since 2018, the term International-Canadian blended (ICB) or Cellared in Canada (CIC) is no longer permitted.
Our icewine is still our signature wine, and I will be doing an article on how icewine is made and how it factors into the cost.
We are slowly developing our wine industry internationally. With better regulations and winemaking standards, Canada is continuing to grow and produce some amazing wines.