You may not know Canadian wine ranks as some of the best in the world. That’s because many labels, hailing from the British Columbia and Ontario wine-growing regions, are boutique. So a large portion is consumed right here. That means visiting is your chance to sip ‘n swirl these much coveted, award-winning vintages.
Oenophiles know that Ontario’s fertile Niagara peninsula is one of two Canadian it spots. There’s Niagara-on-the-Lake, the Ontario Wine Trail, and international players like Inniskillin and Peller Estates. Lesser known is Lincoln, with 13 wineries, home to rare and organic varietals, and cult labels like Hidden Bench Estate Winery, Redstone Winery and Rosewood Estates Winery.
Canada’s other leading wine (and produce) destination is BC’s arid Okanagan Valley, AKA Napa Valley North. Kelowna is the go-to, but even jaded wine snobs call the tiny vineyards of cliff-top Penticton “amazing” and “unexpected.” Fall’s wine festival is prime time—and try craft beer, too, at laidback BrewLoops.
If you’ve not yet tasted fruit wines, take a second look. Albertans—longtime farmers since pioneer times—are expanding into winemaking frontiers, and the results are medal-winning. Meet these talented producers focusing on fruit and grapeless vintages: Field Stone Fruit Wines, Birds & Bees Organic Winery and Meadery, Chinook Arch and Barr Estate Winery.
A few hours west of BC’s wine-centric Okanagan Valley, the agricultural Fraser Valley is branching out from farms to vines. Hit top labels like Backyard Vineyards, Township 7 and Domaine de Chaberton on a SKY Helicopters tour, then picnic on a mountaintop.
Icewine is a specialty in Niagara, the world leader. And Peller Estates wants fans to understand first-hand what it’s like to harvest frozen Icewine grapes in the dead of winter. Hence, the 10Below Icewine Lounge, where you can sample intense, amber-colored vintages in a bar made of ice (parkas provided).
Nova Scotia is Canada’s next wine destination, centred in the bucolic Annapolis Valley. There are nearly 20 wineries and you can follow the Good Cheer Trail on your own road trip. Or join Tidal Bay Wine Tasting Adventures or a pop-up vineyard dinner and culinary film fest at Grand Pre Winery.
Known as Canada’s breadbasket, this prairie province is now jumping into the wine barrel with a big splash. Calgary liquor mogul Moni Minhas is debuting Saskatchewan’s largest winery/distillery/brewery in Regina in 2018 to much fanfare. Be among the first to taste and tour at Minhas Sask.
Rural Prince Edward Island (PEI) may have only a few wineries, but this farm-filled island of red-sand beaches is the place to eat in Atlantic Canada. Taste at Matos Winery & Vineyards near Charlottetown, then do a foodie driving tour or join the Fall Flavours island-wide locavore event. There’s also PEI’s (spring) Festival of Wines.