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Canada is a burgeoning wine country that has been steadily making its mark on the global wine stage. It borders the United States to the south and Alaska to the northwest.

The economic impact of the Canadian grape wine industry has been nothing short of remarkable. According to Wine Growers Canada, the industry's economic contribution has surged by over 70% between 2011 and 2019, reaching an impressive $11.57 billion. This substantial growth underscores the increasing significance of the Canadian wine sector, not only domestically but also on the global economic front.

Canada's wine regions (Viticultural Areas) have unique climate and diverse terroirs, which offer an ideal canvas for Canadian wineries to cultivate a wide range of grape varieties, resulting in a vibrant array of wines that captivate enthusiasts worldwide. The different styles of wine produced throughout the country are dependent of different factors, such as the climatic conditions or the types of soils. From the lush vineyards of British Columbia to the picturesque landscapes of Ontario and beyond, Canadian wineries continue to craft exceptional wines that reflect the country's natural beauty and rich heritage. But undoubtedly one of the great strengths of the Canadian wine industry is the country's flagship wine, icewine, which has steadily gained prominence on the world stage not only because of its level of acidity, but also because of the very particular conditions needed to make it.

Ontario is the leading province for the production of this wine, accounting for 90% of icewine produced in Canada. Ontario is considered the home of Icewine. Also, Canada is the biggest producer of icewine worldwide, surpassing all other countries combined.

With a commitment to quality and innovation, Canadian winemakers have embraced both traditional viticulture techniques and modern advancements to elevate their offerings. The result is a burgeoning portfolio of world-class wines that appeal to a discerning and growing international audience.

As Canada's wine industry continues to flourish, it remains poised for even greater achievements on the global stage. The nation's passion for wine, coupled with its dedication to sustainability and excellence, promises a bright and promising future for Canada as a notable wine country, making it one of the fastest-growing wine regions in the ever-evolving world of wine.

Another reason that makes Canada one of the most chosen places for visitors such as wine lovers is the breathtaking scenery of regions such as Lake Ontario, which is one of the five Great Lakes, Okanagan Valley, Nova Scotia, British Columbia or even Quebec, a relative newcomer with a more challenging climate. Quebec has the growing Eastern Townships wine route with some of the best wineries in the province (Pro Tip: you will also find amazing wines in the area of Montreal, that is surrounded by wineries). All these places will greet you with delicious and unforgettable wine tastings and amazing French Canadan hospitality!

There are other new winegrowing areas to explore, such as Prince Edward County, that are growing at a fast pace, so it would not be surprising if in the future the eyes of the world begin to focus on them as well. In particular, Prince Edward County is a Viticultural Area in Ontario, that is becoming famous for the high-quality red, white and sparkling wines, made primarily from varieties such as Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, very resistant to the cold climate of the region.

Another wine region you must keep in mind for visitors when travelling through Canada is the Gulf Islands, although it might seem underdeveloped, step by step they are making  a name for themselves in the Canadian wine industry. In fact, every day the region features more and more wineries that enriches the wine scenery of Canada. When you head down to one of the amazing wineries of Gulf Islands, don´t forget to try some of the delicious local products with your wine tastings, such as the sweet raspberries and strawberries, making it one trip you will never forget! In addition, the breathtaking landscape of the islands will make you fall in love with the region!

Canada is also a very important wine market for producers from around the world. The country ranks as the 4th largest importer of wine globally, with values of imported wine that reached 2.25 billion dollars in 2021, while also boasting a position just outside the top 10 wine markets in terms of consumption.

In summary, Canada is a wine country that has emerged as a significant player in the wine industry, not only because of its particular microclimates and diversity of soils, but also due to the hard work of every winemaker. In this location, you will be able to discover distinctive and unique wines navigating trough its unique wine regions and appellations, that will surely treat your tastebuds.


Three categories can be used to categorize wine grapes. These are European or Vitis Vinifera, American or Labruscana, and hybrids. Each variety brings distinctive characteristics to the wines, and grape growers take advantage of this to experiment with unique combinations of grapes, depending on the profile they are looking for. In the Canadian wine regions, the most commonly planted grape varieties vary by color, and all of them will surely give you an immersing experience in each sip, so whether you choose a red, white, rose or sparkling wine, you will enjoy every single glass:

Red Grape Varieties:
  1. Merlot: A versatile red grape famous for producing smooth and fruit-forward wines with flavors of plum and cherry. Merlot vines has found a home in most of the Canadian wine regions, such as the Similkameen Valley or the Twenty Valley.
  2. Cabernet Franc: Often used in Bordeaux-style blends, Cabernet Franc in Canada produces wines with herbal notes and red fruit flavors that you will certainly love.
  3. Pinot Noir: Very popular in regions such as California, this delicate and temperamental grape variety also thrives in places with cooler weather, resulting in elegant and complex red wines. An interesting thing about Pinot Noir wines is that, despite its complexity, its also very food-friendly. An alternative to this grape is Baco Noir, a hybrid variety commonly grown in places such as Ontario, Nova Scotia or British Columbia. Instead of showcasing the aromatic intensity of Pinot Noir, Baco Noir is best known for its fruity intensity in the palate when tasting a delicious glass.
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon: Known for its boldness and age-worthiness, Cabernet Sauvignon is used in blends or as a single varietal, allowing for the creation of rich and full-bodied wines. This versatility enriches the bouquet of aromas and the flavor profile you find in the Cabernet Sauvignon wines of each winery in Canada. When tasting a Canadian Cabernet Sauvignon, the notes that usually appears are red berry, raw black currant, mint and eucalyptus
  5. Gamay Noir: Gamay Noir is a red grape that has found its place in the Niagara Peninsula, although it is also planted in regions such as Prince Edward County. Gamay Noir has a very interesting profile, because it allows to produce low-bodied red wines, with a bouquet of flavors such as banana, bubblegum or cotton candy that appears when tasting a glass of Gamay Noir.
  6. Marechal Foch: This grape variety, native to France, also has found its place in certain Canadian regions, such as Nova Scotia, Southern Ontario and Quebec. Marechal Foch gives wines a strong acidity, that makes them vibrate in your palate, as well as notes that may remind you of black fruits, toasted coffee or even vanilla bean.
White Grape Varieties:
  1. Chardonnay: A popular white wine grape known for its versatility, Chardonnay in Canada can produce a range of styles from crisp and unoaked to rich and creamy. This has made it one of the most widely used white grape varieties in most Canadian wine regions. In particular, one of the areas where Chardonnay is most common is in the British Columbia's vineyards, although there is also found in another wine regions, such as the Annapolis Valley. Among the most common tasting notes, you will find  apple, lemon, papaya and pineapple
  2. Riesling: Thriving in cooler climates, Riesling grapes create aromatic wines with refreshing acidity and offers a spectrum of delicious fruity flavors.
  3. Sauvignon Blanc: Cultivated since a long time ago in Canada, and known for its bright and zesty characteristics, Canadian Sauvignon Blanc wine often exhibit herbaceous aromatic notes and tropical fruit tasting notes.
  4. Pinot Gris: This grape variety, also known as Pinot Gris, produces wines with a pleasant balance of fruitiness and acidity. Although it is not as popular as the varieties mentioned above, it has managed to gain a foothold in many Canadian wine regions. A clear example of this is the British Columbia wine region, where the resistance of the variety to low temperatures, added to the great complexity it brings to the wines, has made Pinot Noir a highly appreciated grape by winegrowers throughout the province.
  5. Vidal: This is another grape that promise to grow even more its vineyard surface in the future. Currently, is most common to find vines of Vidal in locations such as Ontario and the surroundings of Quebec City. Another provinces that embraced this grape variety are British Columbia and Nova Scotia.
  6. Lucie Kuhlmann: This grape variety, prominently cultivated in the Canadian regions of British Columbia and Ontario, offers a tasting profile characterized by its rich and full-bodied nature. This white grape is known for producing wines with deep, dark fruit flavors and a hint of spiciness, delighting wine enthusiasts worldwide.

It's important to note that Canada's wine regions vary significantly in climate and terroir, which impacts the grape varieties that thrive in each area. Therefore, the most commonly planted grape varieties can differ between provinces and regions within Canada. Additionally, Canadian winemakers are increasingly experimenting with other lesser-known grape varieties, further enriching the country's diverse wine offerings and the taste of every bottle, such as the Frontenac grape in the Bay of Fundy Coastal Area. So, even if you find a bottle of wine with not-so-recognizable grapes, be sure to at least try a sip. You never know with what flavors will surprise you the next glass you hold!

The main characteristic of Canadian wine is its diversity, thanks to its varied climates and terroirs across different wine regions, as well as the different wine making techniques implemented by Canadian wineries. As a result, most likely you will taste unique wines in each winery you visit. Some of the various types of wines produced in this wine country include:

Ice Wine: One of the things Canada is most famous for, and you have probably heard of, are its world-class icewines, made from grapes that freeze on the vine and are harvested in sub-zero temperatures, mostly during the night. In fact, this wine country excels in the production of this wine, and is known as the world's leading icewine producer, surpassing other countries such as Germany or the United States. To make this wine, it is used a very particular and interesting wine making technique: first, the grapes must be exposed to very low temperatures in the vineyard, until they freeze, and then the frozen grapes are passed through a press. Although it is produced all over the country, Ontario has the biggest Ice wine industry among the Canada wine regions, concentrates 90% of Ice Wine production. Due to its high sugar content, this type of wine is usually consumed as a dessert wine, and has a flavor profile with notes of citrus, honey or even stone fruits such as peach. For this reason, this type of wine is one of the most appreciated among wine lovers all over the world. Ice Wine in Canada is typically made from Vidal Blanc, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc. Enjoy Icewine as a starter, paired with a big range of food or as a dessert wine!

White Wines: Canada produces a wide variety of white wines in its wine regions, including:

  1. Chardonnay: This is one of the most typical Canada's wine, on the white side of the spectrum, and is produced since a long time ago. Known for its versatility, that will allow you to enjoy it with a ample range of food, Canadian Chardonnay ranges from unoaked and crisp to rich and oaky styles. Some of the wine regions in Canada where you must try Chardonnay wines are Niagara on the lake and Okanagan Valley. In addition, this variety is key in some Viticultural Areas with cold climate, such as Prince Edward County.
  2. Riesling: Thriving in cooler climates, Canadian Riesling is often aromatic with a refreshing acidity and a range of fruity flavors. Some of the main Canadian wine regions that excels in crafting Chardonnay wines are Southern Ontario, Similkameen Valley, Okanagan Valley and Niagara on the lake. Whenever you make a trip to this provinces, make sure you at least have one glass of Riesling!
  3. Sauvignon Blanc: Offering bright and zesty characteristics, Canadian Sauvignon Blanc wines can display herbaceous and tropical fruit notes.
  4. Pinot Gris/Pinot Grigio: This grape variety, very popular in regions of Italy such as Friuli Venezia Giulia, is also popular in Canada. Pinot Gris allows to produce white wines with a pleasant balance in taste between fruitiness and acidity. This wine is a must-try in some of the wine regions of Canada, such as Okanagan Valley or Lake Erie North Shore.
  5. Gewurztraminer: This wine style, crafted with the grape originally from the Trentino-Alto Adige Italian wine region, has an increasingly popularity in some regions of Canada, such as Lake Erie North Shore or the Lake Ontario area. This is due to the particular profile of this wine, with delicate aromas that may remind you of roses, while in the mouth has a taste that may remind you to certain citric fruits, thanks to the notes of citric fruits.

Red Wines: Canadian red wines encompass a diverse selection, including:

  1. Merlot: This grape, originally from Europe, is best known for its approachability and fruit-forward character, that you will enjoy in every sip. Canadian Merlot wines often exhibits flavors of plum and cherry.
  2. Cabernet Franc: Cabernet Franc is a grape originally from France, most precisely from Bourdeaux, but is also very popular in Canada. Used in blends or as a single varietal, Canadian Cabernet Franc showcases herbal notes and red fruit flavors, that you will certainly enjoy.
  3. Pinot Noir: Thriving in the cooler climates of areas such as Niagara, the British Columbia wine region, where it particularly develops well in the Fraser Valley, Ontario, Lake Erie North Shore and even in smaller areas such as Vancouver Island, Canadian Pinot Noir wines offer elegance and complexity.
  4. Cabernet Sauvignon: rich and full-bodied, Canadian Cabernet Sauvignon its a must-try if you travel to areas such as the Niagara on the lake wine region, Okanagan Valley, Lake Erie North Shore or Similkameen Valley.
  5. Syrah: This grape is grown mainly in regions such as British Columbia, where its popularity is constantly growing. This is due to its flavor profile, that ranges from earthy notes to more fruity notes, that may remind you of black currant, dragon fruit, and blackberry.

Sparkling Wines: Canada also produces high-quality traditional method sparkling wines. These can include sparkling wine styles made predominantly of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier.

Rosé Wines: Increasingly popular, Canadian rosé wines are made from various grape varieties. Rosés from Canada range in style from dry to off-dry with a spectrum of fruity and floral notes.

Fortified Wines: In addition to Ice Wines, Canada produces fortified wines, including wines similar to Port, often made from traditional Portuguese grape varieties.

The diversity of the profiles in the Canadian wine reflects the country's unique terroir and its wine regions' abilities to craft distinctive and exceptional offerings that appeal to both domestic and international wine enthusiasts. This is also one of the reasons why wine tours are becoming more and more popular through the country. Whether you enjoy to drink reds, whites, roses, sweeter or drier wines, Canada always has a way to surprise you, so don´t be afraid to check out the ample range of wines that this amazing wine country has to offer. There is always a chance that the next wine you drink will become one of your favorite wines.

History of the Region

Canada's winemaking history is a chronicle of resilience, innovation, and growth, unfolding over several centuries to position the nation prominently on the global wine map.

  • Early Encounters and European Influence (1001-1535): The story begins in 1001 with Leif Ericsson's first encounter with wild grapes in Canada. This discovery laid the foundation for future winemaking potential, which gained momentum with European settlers. Samuel de Champlain played a pivotal role in this early period, planting grapes in Quebec by 1535, signaling the nascent stages of Canadian viticulture.
  • Foundational Years (Early 19th Century): The true birth of Canadian vineyards can be traced back to the early 19th century, with Johann Schiller's pioneering endeavors in vine cultivation. Schiller's work set the stage for the future success of Canadian wines.
  • International Recognition and Growth (Mid to Late 19th Century): A significant milestone was achieved when Justin de Courtenay's wine, produced from Schiller's vineyard, gained international acclaim at the 1867 Paris exhibition. This success led to the establishment of the Ontario Grape Growing and Wine Manufacturing Company in Niagara in 1873, marking the inception of Niagara's first winery. By 1890, Canada boasted 41 commercial wineries, primarily in Ontario, showcasing a burgeoning wine industry.
  • Challenges and Resilience (Early 20th Century): The 1916 Dry Law posed significant challenges to the Canadian wine industry. Despite these obstacles, the industry adapted and thrived, focusing on the production of sweet wines.
  • Regulation and Diversification (Mid 20th Century): The establishment of the Provincial Liquor Board in 1927 marked a new era of regulation and expansion. This period saw the rise of family-owned wineries, which brought diversity and innovation to the Canadian wine landscape, but also the limitation of the numer of licenses for wineries.
  • Expansive Growth and Global Recognition (Late 20th Century to Present): By 1997, Canada had over 110 licensed wineries, reflecting remarkable growth and diversification. Today, Canada is celebrated for its wide range of wines, including its world-renowned ice wines and robust reds. Canadian wineries, known for their constant innovation and exploration of new varieties and techniques, have secured a notable place in the world of wine.

The modern Canadian wine industry is a significant cultural and economic contributor to the nation. It continues to expand, adding new wineries each year and enriching its diversity. Every glass of Canadian wine is a tribute to the country's rich and storied winemaking history, inviting wine enthusiasts to explore and appreciate the depth of Canada's winemaking journey.

From its early encounters to its current status as a respected wine-producing country, Canada's winemaking heritage is a testament to the enduring spirit of growth, resilience, and innovation.

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