Wines from British Columbia are now receiving the international recognition they deserve thanks to more experience in winemaking, improved viticulture management, and top-notch scientific research on soils and climate.
The Canadian dollar took a beating last year, and continues to languish against most currencies. While this is good news for exporters, it's nothing but strife for importers, who must continually wrangle with their suppliers and distributors over whose belt gets tightened to maintain steady prices.
When it comes to wine labels, John Skinner is all about seeking the truth. The owner of Penticton-based Painted Rock Estate Winery has been fighting to ensure wines produced in other countries are labeled accurately.
Joseph Pohorly, the founder of Joseph's Estate Wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake, is one of the pioneers to make Canadian icewines in 1980s. He upgraded the hand press to mechanical which helped advance the icewine making in Niagara.
Thick-gloved workers briskly picked frozen bunches of grapes that would be pressed into extra-sweet juice within hours out in the cold air. Hunt Country Vineyards makes a sweet wine that has become a specialty for a number of vineyards dotting upstate New York hillsides - albeit one dependent on the increasingly noticeable vagaries of winter.
Frédéric Brouca, an Ottawa resident who makes wine from his own vineyard in southern France, was headed for a career in business. Born in France, he studied in Lille at one of the country's top business schools. But, as he tells the story, after graduating and being offered a banking job, he got into a car with his father and told him he was going to turn the job down as he just didn't see himself working in a bank.
The two-year course covered the science of brewing (the growth rates, metabolism and different strains of yeasts, for starters), marketing skills such as the art of packaging (a cool logo doesn't help if loose bottle caps allow oxidizing air into the bottles), and, most importantly, hands-on experience managing a working brewery.
"We've kind of dubbed the bypass the South Okanagan Connector," Peter Warner, president of the Highway 97 Task Force Society, said Sunday. "The bypass would obviously make Peachland a quieter and more pedestrian-friendly place, but it would also reduce the travel time for people in Penticton and Summerland who drive to the Coast," Warner said.
Viognier is one of the most finicky and difficult wine grapes to grow. Pick it a little too early, and it comes out green and flavorless. Pick it a little too late, and the resulting wine can be flabby, oily and generally unpleasant.
The annual Niagara Ice Wine Festival will take over the Scotiabank Convention Centre from Jan. 29 to 31. The event is designed to not only showcase Canadian produced ice wines, but also help attract weekend visitors to Niagara Falls during a traditionally slow part of the winter months.
A late deep freeze this winter may have lifted the spirits of Ontario's icewine industry, but the province's grape growers say bigger questions about the impact of a changing climate are creeping up on their business.