Great wine in Canada comes from the roots.
With Canada Day and #CdnWineDay both on the horizon, it’s a good time to kick back and reflect on the history of the Canadian wine industry, maybe even ponder its future.
Too often though we zoom out too far, examining the macro-level trends with supporting statistical data en masse. A far more interesting perspective comes from peering into the hearts of those who are driving the industry, and in doing so we are also able to glean some insights into the future.
Those running wineries across Canada are an amazingly diverse lot, but they share many characteristics and values that are also reflective of our general culture.
They are passionate. You won’t find them waving flags and blowing their horns but there is an assuredness that comes from committing to a definitive path and a long term goal. Running a winery or becoming a winemaker is not a decision made on a whim. In most cases it’s driven from the heart, and for many it’s a family affair with all hands on deck working together to make their winery better. Take L’Acadie Vineyards in Nova Scotia where Bruce Ewert and his family have made a commitment to the Gaspereau community and to building a sustainable winery that offers some of the best sparkling wines in the country. Kudos to them.
Amongst many Canadian wineries you’ll also find a respectful, mutually supportive sense of ambition. There is an understanding that the better the wines of their neighbour, the better the perceived quality of their region, which all serves to improve the Canadian wine industry. Creekside Estate Winery and 13th Street Winery in Niagara, Ontario are a good example of this. You could almost pop a sparkling wine cork between the two properties but they are friendly, often collaborative. Of course, it helps that they both have a good variety of award-winning wines to sample.
An amazing work ethic is another thing you’ll find in common. Besides working long days, especially during harvest, the job description of a typical small-lot producer ranges from CEO to Chief Bottle Washer. But try the Pinot Noir from TH Wines in the Okanagan and you’ll be glad that winemaker (and Chief Bottle Washer) Tyler Harlton chose to wear all those hats. With about 700 wineries from coast to coast, there are many gems like TH Wines out there awaiting your discovery.
As we head into #CdnWineDay and Canada Day, I feel confident about our industry. Sure, political factors seem to be improving and market forces are aligning nicely, but what gives me the most assurance comes from visiting the wineries themselves. In talking with the people who are driving the industry, as diverse as they are, they are just so wonderfully… Canadian.