By Susan Tellman
July 29, 2017
Do you love good wine and seeing the country? You can stay close to home or travel across the country when you tour the wine regions of Canada. From Nova Scotia to British Columbia, every province invites you to savour its wines. Let’s explore four top wine regions, plus a surprise, you shouldn’t miss.
Canada is for wine lovers
You don’t have to travel to France, Italy or Napa Valley for premier winery tours and tastings. Put away your passport and check your map of Canada instead. Several of our country’s provinces are fortunate enough to have the right microclimates and soil to support a luscious range of wineries to satisfy curious day-trippers and dedicated wine lovers alike. Sign up for a wine tour package or set your own itinerary and take time to savour Canada’s top wine regions.
Four regions and abundant wine, east to west
Several factors come together to produce fine wine in Canada: soil, sun, rain, heat, and the quality of grapes that will grow in those conditions. Of course, you don’t forget all the knowledge and hard work of the people who care for the grapes and make them into wine. In addition to meeting other enthusiastic wine lovers, visiting the wine regions of Canada gives you a unique view of the land where you live, from Nova Scotia to British Columbia. Let’s look at four of the most abundant and beautiful.
1. Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley
Historical records date winemaking in Nova Scotia back to 1611, and in 2012 Nova Scotia gained its own wine appellation, Tidal Bay. With a 400-year history and most of its wineries within a two-hour drive from Halifax, the province lures you in all directions in a small space with the richest centre in the Annapolis Valley. With mild growing conditions, rich soil, little urban development and pristine environment, the valley stretches along the Bay of Fundy like a slice of wine heaven.
2. Quebec’s Eastern Townships
Known as the cradle of Quebec’s wine culture, vintners of the Eastern Townships pamper their grapes and their visitors with the scenic hillsides and food pairings meant for wine. With at least 25 wineries in just this region, you could luxuriate in tours, tastings and meals for several weeks. You will find local soils nourishing grape varieties of all types: Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Guysenheim, Gamay, Riesling, Muscat, Marechel Foch, Cabernet Franc, and more.
3. Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula
You may need an extended holiday or a series of weekend excursions to explore all of the wineries in the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario. The south shore of Lake Ontario and the area between the cities of Niagara Falls and Hamilton lie within a microclimate that gives wine lovers a bounty of varieties, including Bordeaux, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, Gamay, Pinot Gris, and Vidal Gewurztraminer.
4. British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley
Famous for its fall wine festival with wine tastings, gourmet food pairings and vineyard tours, the Okanagan Valley is the northernmost sustained wine growing region in the world. The Okanagan Valley grows world-class cool-climate wines with a shorter growing season. Rich soils, sheltering cliffs and many lakes create an abundant microclimate. Visit for an extended holiday to taste them all, including Syrah, Zinfandel, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Ortega, Gamay Noir and Viognier.
Some wine regions are blessed in other ways
Though the climate zones of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta are not hospitable to grapes, they still support artisanal wineries producing locally, nationally and internationally known fruit wines. Integrating the abundant fruits of fertile prairie lands, organic growers and innovative winemakers offer wine lovers distinctive flavours such as:
- Black currants
- Cherries and black cherries
- Saskatoon berries
You may also be surprised at the variety of meads made from honey that retain distinctive notes of clover, wildflowers and crops from the areas surrounding each meadery. Fermented with local fruits, mead takes on the complexity of fine wines. Mead also pairs exceptionally well with both gourmet meals and backyard barbecues.
Discover your own favourite wine region close to home. The many regional wineries with fine products ranging from a native ice wine to classic Bordeaux invite you to visit, and many wineries are open year round.