Canadian Wineries


The story of Canada's entry into the world of world-class vintages.

In the late 1980s, the Canadian wine industry embarked upon a radical transformation. Faced with free trade, the end of government subsidies and Ontario legislation that banned native grape varieties from table wine, vintners got serious about planting and nurturing Old World vinafera varieties. Enriching their own growing experience by drawing on that of the global wine ...

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Canadian Wineries

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The story of Canada's entry into the world of world-class vintages.

In the late 1980s, the Canadian wine industry embarked upon a radical transformation. Faced with free trade, the end of government subsidies and Ontario legislation that banned native grape varieties from table wine, vintners got serious about planting and nurturing Old World vinafera varieties. Enriching their own growing experience by drawing on that of the global wine community's winemakers, Canadians began to produce award-winning vintages.

Renowned wine writer Tony Aspler has spent much of his career chronicling this impressive rebirth. In Canadian Wineries, he teams up with principal photographer Jean-François Bergeron and his colleagues at Enviro Foto to profile more than 60 of Canada's best wineries. To make a selection from the roughly 560 Canadian wineries currently operating, they imposed strict criteria, taking into account the quality of the wine produced and its sustained quality from vintage to vintage, the winery's influence on the direction and style of the wines in their region, the aesthetic appeal of the winery's property and setting, and regional representation.

The result is a gorgeous and compelling journey through British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia, where we meet some of the men and women who have dedicated their lives to the art of winemaking, enjoy a bird's eye view of their estates and are invited inside the state-of-the-art facilities where the magic happens. A beautiful appreciation of one of Canada's most inspiring homegrown success stories, Canadian Wineries also includes:

  • Introductory histories to the winemaking traditions in each province
  • Stand-alone profiles of notable
    Canadian vintners
  • A seasonal guide to visiting wineries
  • The story of ice wine: Canada's gift of winter to the world
  • Ice cider: Quebec's winter wine
  • Photographic essays that showcase the diverse landscapes of Canada's wine regions, fine local dining, local agriculture and regional heritage.
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Editorial Reviews

Metro Newspapers - Peter Rockwell
Even with most wine aficionados plugging into the Internet for the bulk of their liquid knowledge, there's still a place in this world for some hard copy. Just in time for Christmas, the newly released Canadian the book Canadian wine fans have been waiting for. Focusing on more than 60 wineries—from British Columbia's Mission Hill all the way to Nova Scotia's Jost Vineyard—it's a lovingly crafted collection of stories and images that will make even the most jaded sommelier excited to visit these vineyards and drink their wines... The engine driving our vibrant national wine culture is our own wines, and if you're looking for a great guide to the excitement, Canadian Wineries is it.
Metro Toronto
A lovingly crafted collection of stories and images that will make even the most jaded sommelier excited.
Spotlight Toronto - Suresh Doss
Tony Aspler needs little introduction. ... (His) knowledge of Canadian wineries and Ontario wineries in particular, is unmatched.
Toronto Star - Gord Stimmell
If you want to glimpse the inside worlds of the top wineries in Canada today, Tony Aspler's new, colourful, Canadian Wineries is hot off the wine press. The handsome book does not try to cover all 560 wineries from coast to coast. Instead, Tony constantly travelled from 2005 onward to visit prominent wineries in the main four wine-growing provinces. These include Nova Scotia and the Maritime provinces and wintry Quebec with an amazing 87 producers, all very small, certainly Canada's best kept wine secret... It's fun to see the winery profiles and drink in the stunning imagery, shot by Jean Francois Bergeron, of our greatest Canadian wineries and the iconic personalities who inhabit them. I am sure if you have done wine tours you will love seeing some of your favourite wineries.
Wood on Wine, Halifax Herald - Sean Wood
Tony Aspler, a celebrated Canadian wine writer and educator, has just produced a fine new work on Canadian wineries. No one is better qualified to take on this task.
Food and Drink Books in Review Gothic Epicures
(Wine Book of the Month) Bergeron and Aspler have roamed around Canada over the years in different seasons to produce what could actually be a wine-touring guide... A good look at important wineries and the people behind them.
Toronto Sun
Canadian Wineries is tailor made for wine-loving gadabouts.
Life in Quebec - Emilie Charest-Leclerc
Canadian wine is on the up, and according to the author, is only going to get better.
Plaisirs de vivre — Living with Style (Montreal
Wine tourism is all the rage. Since California introduced the concept of wine tourism, visits to wine destinations around the world, including Canada, have become a feature of the good life. This beautifully illustrated and well-documented book encourages four-season travel in our own country, from British Columbia to the Atlantic provinces by way of Ontario and Quebec. The author suggests nearly 90 destinations where — between harvests and tastings, wine workshops and cooking classes, on a spring afternoon, a fall weekend, or a winter's day — the visitor can enjoy ciders and wines, white or red, still, sparkling or ice, and those who make them. A heady itinerary.
Booklist Recommended Books - Brad Hooper
There are approximately 560 wineries in Canada, and wine columnist Aspler, accompanied by photographer Jean-Francois Bergeron, visits many of them in this stunningly beautiful guide. Four geographical areas are explored: British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia and the Atlantic provinces. Each winery is given a greatly informative profile.
Gothic Epicures, Food and Drink Books in Review - Dean Tudor
A good look at important wineries and the people behind them.
Shelf Reader
A must-read for the wine lover.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781770852440
  • Publisher: Firefly Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 7/28/2013
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Wine educator and lecturer Tony Aspler is Canada's most experienced wine writer. A longtime wine columnist for The Toronto Star, he is also the author of 16 books on food and wine, including The Wine Atlas of Canada and Tony Aspler's Cellar Book. In December 2007, Aspler was awarded the Order of Canada for his contributions as a leading authority on Canadian wines.

Since co-founding Enviro Foto in 1991, photographer Jean-François Bergeron has travelled extensively throughout Canada, producing work that focuses on nature, cultural heritage and tourism. Bergeron has published four books and regularly participates in exhibitions in Quebec, Canada and abroad.

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Table of Contents


British Columbia: Land of Forests, Mountains and Vines
Okanagan Valley
Similkameen Valley
Fraser Valley
Vancouver Island/Gulf Islands

Ontario: The Cradle of Canada's Wine Industry
Niagara Peninsula
Lake Erie North Shore
Prince Edward County

Icewine: Canada's Gift of Winter to the World

Québec: Canada's Undiscovered Wine Region
Eastern Townships
Québec City Region

Ice Cider: Québec's Winter Wine

Nova Scotia and the Atlantic Provinces
Annapolis Valley
Gaspereau Valley
Malagash Peninsula

Canada's Winemaking Champions
McWatters: Meet the Godfather
Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser: Impresarios of Icewine
Jim Warren: Ontario's Unretiring Wine Advocate
Christian Barthomeuf: Pioneer and Prophet
Roger Dial: The Father of Nova Scotia Wine

Touring Wineries: A Short Guide
A Year in the Vinyard
Timing Your Winery Visits
Winery Etiquette
Three Steps to Tasting


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There were, at the time this book went to press, some 560 wineries across Canada. Most make their wines from grapes grown in the region; many produce orchard and berry fruit wines, and some make cider and mead. By the time you read these words, there may well be dozens of new wineries across the country as more and more Canadians succumb to the romantic lure of owning a winery.

You may be surprised to know that wine, whether grape- or fruit-based, is made in every Canadian province. The only regions not engaged in winemaking are the territories in the Far North; and with global warming, who knows? In the future, we might just see a Nunavut Riesling or a Northwest Territories Baco Noir.

In preparing this book, photographer Jean-Franois Bergeron and I travelled across Canada, at different times and during different seasons, from 2005 until publication, to document in pictures and prose what our wineries do best. In making a final selection as to whom we should include, we had to make some hard decisions. So, what were the criteria we used to determine which wineries should be featured here?

First, we were adamant that wine quality across the winery's portfolio and sustained quality from vintage to vintage should be prime considerations. Those criteria precluded the inclusion of very new wineries, such as Pearl Morissette in Jordan, Ontario, and Culmina Family Estate in Oliver, British Columbia, both of which are already making stellar wines.

Second, the wineries in question had to be historically significant and have made a marked influence on the direction and style of the wines in their region. A classic example is Inniskillin, which created a global market for Canadian Icewine.

Third, since this is a pictorial record of the best that Canada has to offer in the world of wine, there had to be an aesthetic appeal to the property and its setting. For many years, wineries were started on farms, where on-site barns were converted into fermenting facilities. Over the past 15 years or so, winery owners have invested in custom-built facilities that include gravity-flow operations to improve wine quality, and many of these structures are architecturally exciting in their own right. In designing facilities that blend seamlessly into the countryside, these winemakers have been as respectful to the landscape as they have to their terroir. In addition, they have preserved the heritage aspects of their properties.

We have also taken into consideration the style and character of wines grown in the four provinces featured in this book. Each has its own personality, based on climate and terroir. For instance, you can't make a comparison of wines grown near Québec City with those grown in British Columbia's Osoyoos.

While restricting ourselves to portraying the number of "best wineries in Canada"—with a nod to each wine-growing province—we have taken the liberty of including other details of wineries and personalities that did not make the final edit but which nevertheless have something special to offer wine lovers. Ultimately, you may not agree with our choices, but that only speaks to how good wines grown in Canadian soil have become in a relatively short time. Cheers!

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