However, Canadian winemakers are experimenting successfully with an impressive number of grape varieties, including the classic Bordeaux varieties (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot) and those of Burgundy (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Gamay), Alsace (Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Riesling and Gewürztraminer), the Loire (Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc) and the Rhone (Viognier and Syrah).
Canadians are also making impressive wines from less well-known French and German varieties (Madeleine Angevine, Siegerrebe, Kerner, Ortega and Bacchus), as well Austrian grapes (Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch) and hybrids such as Vidal Blanc, Baco Noir and Maréchal Foch. In Quebec, a range of grape varieties are cultivated which are not commonly found elsewhere, and which can withstand winter temperatures of minus 35 degrees (has anyone ever heard of an Elmer Swenson 517?). And in BC’s Okanagan Valley, there are even winemakers experimenting with South Africa’s Pinotage grape.
Meanwhile, in BC’s Okanagan region, a continental climate, together with the rain shadow created by the Cascade Mountains, contributes to hot, dry and even arid conditions. In this sun-soaked valley, renowned for its peaches and beaches, the Drake Vine discovered rattlesnakes which had also heard about the growing excitement surrounding Canadian wine.
The Drake Vine also discovered powerful red blends, full-bodies buttery Chardonnays, exotic and aromatic Gewürztraminers, international award-winning sparkling wines and even Pinotage ice wine.
This week, the Drinking and Pairing sections of the Drake Vine focus on Gewürztraminer. Originally from France's Alsace region (which accounts for a lion's share of total global plantings of the grape) Gewürztraminer appears to be particularly well-suited to several Canadian winemaking regions, including the Okanagan.
The Drinking and Pairing sections of the website also profile Vidal Blanc, a hybrid grape variety which was invented in the 1930s, and which is used to make ice wine. Ice wine is one of Canada's best known wines, and one which accounts for a major share of the country's exports. It's made from grapes that are picked when frozen while still on the vine.
But Canadian wine is about so much more than just ice wine. To find out why, the Drake Vine encourages every reader to head to BC's Okanagan Valley at the first opportunity. In the meantime, read the Growing, Making, Drinking and Pairing sections of this website.