Coast-to-Coast Canadian Wine
How does the Canadian version of ‘This Land is Your Land’ go? From Bonavista to Vancouver Island … It may surprise you, but there are wine grapes growing in Newfoundland and the wine industry is expanding quickly on Vancouver Island.
Canada may be small in the grand scheme of things in terms of wine production, but it is growing. The climate with its long, cold winters and short summers has been a limiting factor. In winter when Vitis vinifera vines are dormant, very low temperatures can impact the viability of the vine, and after bud break in spring the vines are particularly sensitive to cold temperature affecting the crop. The use of hybrid varieties and adapted techniques help to overcome some of these issues. As Canadian wine production has increased, the Vintners Quality Alliance system, similar to France’s AOC, has been established in recognition of the unique terroirs and origin of wines produced and to differentiate from the still large number of wines sold that are blends of imported and domestic wines.
From coast to coast, Canadians are making wine. That means that we wine lovers can visit wineries and sample their wares without crossing an international border.
Almost without exception, you will be welcome at the farm gate or the cellar door. In many cases, be prepared for a very casual visit and, shall we say, rustic experience. The more developed wine regions, such as the Okanagan Valley in BC, are more experienced hosts. That brings us to Ontario and our two Opimian partners at the vanguard of our reintroduction of domestic wines: Pearl Morissette in the established and well-known Niagara region and Karlo Estates in the up-and-coming Prince Edward County VQA.
Karlo Estates, in Wellington, Ontario, is growing grapes on 400-million-year-old limestone soil. Star winemaker Derek Barnett is making gold medal wines. A visit to Karlo will begin at the tasting room in a barn dating back to 1805 (don’t worry – it’s been renovated). Choose a flight of your favourite varietals from a wide selection. Cheese and nut snacks for pairing are also available. As with most established wineries, reservations are always appreciated so that they can better plan staffing. As is always the case with our producers, make sure you mention that you are an Opimian Member. It often results in some royal treatment.
561 Danforth Road
Wellington, ON K0K 3L0
Website | Karloestates.com
Hours | Friday & Saturday: 12 – 6 PM, Sunday through Thursday: 12 – 5 PM
Pearl Morissette is another experience altogether. It’s almost as though maverick winemaker Francois Morissette doesn’t want to be found. You’ll find no sign other than a giant cardinal mounted to a fencepost. After a four-year absence, tastings have returned but must be reserved on their website beforehand. They are very popular so make sure to book well in advance. Better still, experience the acclaimed restaurant on the property. The Restaurant at Pearl Morissette (RPM for short) is a gem not to be missed. Dishes crafted from local produce and meat (some right on the property) are designed to specifically pair with Pearl Morissette’s ethereally dry Rieslings and lush Cabernet Francs. If you’re lucky enough to score a reservation, it will be a memory of a lifetime!
561 3953 Jordan Road
Jordan Station, ON L0R 1S0
Website | Pearlmorissette.com
Hours | Go online for tasting schedule & booking
Restaurant | Lunch & dinner: Friday, Saturday & Sunday