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An Overview of Canada's Wine Industry
While most of Canada is too cold for grape growing, Canadian wine is produced in Southern Ontario and southern British Columbia. The two largest wine producing regions are the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and the Okanagan in British Columbia. Other wine producing areas include the shores of Lake Erie in Ontario, and the southern Fraser River valley and southern Vancouver Island in British Columbia. There are small scale productions of grapes and wine in southern Quebec and Nova Scotia. The Canadian wine industry also vinifies imported grapes and juice. Icewine, which can be produced reliably in most Canadian wine regions, is the most recognized product.
Canadian Wine History
Canadian wine has been made for over 200 years. Early settlers tried to cultivate Vitis vinifera grapes from Europe with limited success. They found it necessary to focus on the native species of Vitis labrusca and Vitis riparia along with various hybrids. However, the market was limited for such wines because of their peculiar taste, which is often called "foxy." However, this became less apparent when the their juice made into Port- and Sherry-styled wines. For a period of time in the 1800s the export of these affordable wines to England made Ontario one of the largest wine exporters in North America.
During the first half of the twentieth century, the temperance movement and later consumer demand for fortified and sweet wines, hampered the development of a quality table wine industry. However, during the 1960s consumer demand shifted from sweet and fortified wines to dryer and lower alcohol table wines. At the same time, there were significant improvements in wine making technology, access to better grape varieties and disease-resistant clones, and systematic research into viticulture.
After the repeal of alcohol prohibition in Canada in 1927, provinces strictly limited the number of licenses to produce wine. The nearly 50-year moratorium on issuing new winery licenses was finally dropped in 1974. During the same decade, demonstration planting began to show that Vitis vinifera could be successfully grown in Canada. Others found that if high quality wines could be produced if Vitis vinifera vines were grown with reduced yields, new trellising techniques, and appropriate canopy management.
In 1988, three important events occurred. They were free trade with the United States, the establishment of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) standard, and a major grape vine replacement/upgrading program.
During the 1990s, "Canadian vintners continued to demonstrate that fine grape varieties in cooler growing conditions could possess complex flavours, delicate yet persistent aromas, tightly focused structure and longer aging potential than their counterparts in warmer growing regions of the world.
Canadian Wine Industry Information Courtesy of Wikipedia