Wine, Anytime: 8 Canadian Wine Regions to Visit
Sure, France, Italy, and Spain are the big names in wine, but we think Canada can hold its own when it comes to the swirl, sniff, and sip. Across the varied landscape of our vast country, you’ll find grapes of all types and wineries that are committed to turning them into the most delicious adult grape juice we’ve ever tasted.
On your next trip north, head to one of these esteemed wine regions and get a taste of what Canada has to offer when it comes to one of the world’s most popular drinks.
Nova Scotia’s size doesn’t inhibit its ability to carefully craft a plethora of wineries. In fact, this Atlantic province has several wine growing areas making it the little province that could in terms of wine. With over 70 grape growers, 800 acres of grapes, and a signature wine, Tidal Bay, it won’t come as a surprise that this region was one of the first areas to cultivate grapes in North America — way back in the 1600s. The climate and soil of this Maritime province is ideal for creating distinct grapes and, in turn, distinct wines. If you’re looking for a really immersive experience, imbibe all along the Good Cheer Trail, Canada’s first winery, craft brewery, and distillery tour, all rolled into one.
The Eastern Townships, more specifically the Brome-Missisquoi region in Quebec, are home to The Wine Route, which connects 21 wineries that represent 60% of Quebec’s wine production. Including two of the oldest wineries in the province, this route will expose you not only to the delicious grapes of the region, but also its breathtaking scenery and unique heritage. Snaking through over 85 miles of countryside, you’ll be treated to tastings of rosés, ice wines, and other local specialties.
Lake Erie North Shore & Pelee Island
The Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island wine region is Canada’s southernmost spot (it’s only a 30-minute drive from Detroit) and features over 10 unique wineries. Four hours outside of Toronto, this area is home to warm sun and crisp breezes, which provide the ideal growing conditions for a variety of grapes. Characterized by perfectly balanced sweet and acidic grapes, and a landscape almost completely surrounded by water, the wines produced here are fine for more reason than one. Hop on a bike and cycle through the region, sipping and indulging along the way.
Prince Edward County
Ontario’s fastest-growing wine region, Prince Edward County (PEC), is making a name for itself on the shores of Lake Ontario. Directly opposite to Niagara-on-the-Lake, the varietals grown here are quite similar, but PEC is becoming well-known for it’s limestone-rich soil. With cold winters and warm summers, this region is perfect for grape growing. Home to over 30 wineries, you’ll be sure to sip a Sauvignon Blanc or Syrah that’s just sublime. Plus, this spot was named one of the best places to travel to in 2015 by Travel + Leisure, so it’s time you add this quaint spot to your bucket list.
Known for not only its scenery, but also its robust and flavorful wines, the Niagara Peninsula is one of Canada’s most talked about regions when it comes to wine. With more wineries than we can list (including some big names like Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin), this region extends from the perfectly quaint Niagara-on-the-Lake, to the friendly Grimsby, and is characterized by fertile soil that excels at producing the perfect grapes for delightfully sweet ice wines, among other varietals. Tucked between two of the five Great Lakes, this region shares many similarities in climate to wine-producing regions in France, which further proves that it’s a spot all oenophiles should take seriously. Time for a tasting!
In BC’s diverse climate, you’ll find an endless variety of wine to sip, especially in well-known regions like Naramata. The Thompson Okanagan area, is one of the most notable wine growing spots likely due the fact that is boasts over 120 wineries — we only wish we could visit them all in one trip. Being referred to as the northernmost wine region in the world, the Okanagan area is known for cool climate wine varietals like pinot gris, viognier, gamay noir, and more. Conveniently located along a chain of lakes, you’ll find the perfect pairing of vineyards and beaches here, making it ideal for a summer getaway. Plus there are a ton of great wine festivals and even winery cycling tours. If wine isn’t enough, this region is also becoming well-known for its ciders, with apple orchards being another popular crop cultivated in the region.
Named one of the world’s five best wine regions you’ve never heard of by enRoute Magazine, the Similkameen area is finally making a name for itself. Having grown fruit for many years in this dry, hot valley, the region has just recently started enjoying more established wineries amongst its mountainous backdrop. Now home to 14 such wineries, this area’s dry heat (bet you didn’t know there was a desert in BC!) is perfect for grape growing. Even better, most growers in the area focus on organic farming, meaning your wine will taste as good as it is for the environment.
Vancouver Island & the Gulf Islands
Hop over the Strait of Georgia and you’ll find yourself in a West Coast wine country. With picturesque coastlines and friendly local towns, you’ll be greeted by clusters of wineries on the Saanich Peninsula, throughout the Gulf Islands, and in the Cowichan Valley. To give you a sense of popularity, the Cowichan Valley (about 40 minutes north of Victoria), has 15 tasting rooms alone. Concentrated in the southeast portion of Vancouver Island, wineries have spurred a whole culinary movement in the region that's grown to include not just wine, but also top-quality food, beer, and more. Stop by a winery to taste varietals like pinot noir and pinot gris, as well as sparkling and fruit wines, which are grown in relaxed settings by family-owned operations.
You don’t have to fly over the Atlantic to be treated to world-class wine. Look up north and discover diverse and delicious wines you’ll definitely want to write home about.