I think a lot about wine: Pinot Noir is on my mind whenever dinnertime rolls around, Beaujolais is in my thoughts as the holidays approach, Merlot and Cabernet share time on my brain when I attend a local happy hour. Sometimes wine is even in my dreams: bottles of White Zinfandel, knowing I am not a fan, chase me into dark and desolate alleys. Of course, there are the times when I don't think of wine at all; one of these times is when I think of Canada. In my thoughts, the words "Canada" and "Wine" are rarely side by side.
However, my thoughts are wrong (my thoughts, mind you, not me). Canada and wine are two things that actually do go together. Up and coming, Canada is one nation hell bent on climbing the grapevine of the wine industry. Look out drinkers, the Canadians bacon, I mean, beckon.
Now, Canada is certainly not a wine region as well known as the Napa Valley or Italy - Canadian grapes can easily mix with the public without being bothered by paparazzi - but their subtleness is due mainly to the fact that Canadian wineries are some of the newest in the world: they are just getting started.
This is not to say that the idea of growing wine is a new concept to Canadians - wine can hardly be a new concept to any country that once had areas owned by France - it's just that wine, until recently, has been unable to flourish in Canada. This was mainly due to the economic restraints placed on vineyards: owning a winery simply didn't pay and potential growers were forced to chose between making wine and making money. In the 1990's, however, the government monopolies that controlled the production and sale of alcohol changed, and producing wine in Canada became a much more profitable endeavor.
Ontario and British Columbia shot out of the gates to lead the country in wine production, a lead they still maintain today. Ontario accounts for 75 percent of wine sold, wine that is grown in a unique environment. With a close proximity to the Great Lakes, the vineyards of Ontario undergo a bit of a warming affect, just enough to stop arctic winds and make growing grapes feasible.
British Columbia produces the majority of the remaining wine. One of the most northern vineyards in the world, the climate in British Columbia is not as arctic as one might assume. The valleys of the region are tucked away behind mountain ranges, allowing the temperatures to be warm, sunny, and usually dry.