19 November 2012
Canada's climate has long been thought unsuited for the growing of quality grapes. Today, we all know this is untrue: the Okanagan Valley and the Niagara Region have been thriving for many years now, and Quebec's wine-growing potential has literally exploded over the past few years.
In fact, Quebec now has an official wine route of its own in the Brome-Missisquoi region. From red wine to ice wine, through fortified wine and late harvest, the 18 wineries that are part of the circuit produce high-quality product endowed with a distinctive taste.
Grapes that fit the region
Because Quebec's climate is not adapted to the growing of many kinds of grapes that are cultivated in settings such as the Mediterranean region or the Chilean Pacific coast, many wine producers across the province have taken a leap of faith.
Quebecois winemakers have not tried to copy flavours that can be found in wines produced elsewhere, and people have eventually recognised the richness and originality of these new tastes.
Thus they have opted for varieties of vines seldom used in other countries: Vidal, Frontenac, Seyval blanc, Maréchal Foch, Sainte-Croix, and Vandal-Cliché.
Whereas only one winery permit was delivered in the province in 1982, the Association des Vignerons du Quebec now counts over 60 producing members, growing grapes on almost 250 hectares and offering 297 different products.
What's more, these hundreds of wines have made their way to the top. Just last year, Quebecois wines earned 60 awards in various contests. The total number of medals won by local producers has reached 497, confirming that wines from the Quebecois heartland have been building a solid reputation.
And that's just the beginning. The 2012 summer season was the best ever recorded for grape growing in the province and every single wine producer seems convinced that his 2012 vintage will be among the finest ever produced.
So 2013 could be the perfect year to travel the Brome-Missisquois wine route. The 18 wineries situated along the circuit will probably be showcasing a production that they have never been so proud of before.
Moreover, the Brome-Missisquoi region is located in the Eastern Townships, whose forests are dominated by maple trees. When the fall comes, the landscape turns yellow, orange, and red, offering a panorama so beautiful that you will want to go back every single year. This phenomenon is called "La flambée des couleurs" - literally, "The flaming of colours."
A great location
The Brome-Missisquoi region is located only an hour away from Montreal by car, which makes it very easy for anyone visiting Quebec to rent a car for the day, go do some wine tasting, and be back in the city just in time for dinner at a trendy restaurant or for bedtime in their hotel in downtown Montreal.
About the author:
Alexandre Duval is a freelance blogger, globetrotter and epicurean. He is also currently completing his master's degree in political science at the University of Quebec in Montreal.