It’s Time We Look North Of the Border (Letter to Wine Spectator Magazine)
An excerpted version of this letter was published in the April 30, 2018 issue.
As a big fan and long-term reader of Wine Spectator, I find the lack of coverage of Canada’s wines a bit of an international blindspot. Across its over 670 wineries and 31,000 acres devoted to grape growing, Canada has transformed its wine industry in the past 30 years with high quality vitis vinifera wines and exciting new wineries in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley and Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula. Both offer visitors spectacular scenery, beautiful wine routes, and passionate winemakers eager to share their craft. I’ve recently enjoyed exceptional wines from Castoro de Oro in B.C. and Stratus Wines in Niagara – the latter also being the first winery in Canada to earn LEED Canada certification. And noteworthy vineyards are by no means limited to these regions either with exciting momentum in Prince Edward County in Ontario, Québec, and Nova Scotia.
Canada’s wine districts are within a day’s drive for millions of Americans with the U.S. buyer enjoying a meaningful currency exchange advantage. Wine-related tourism in Canada welcomes over 3.7 million tourists a year and yet there is rarely a mention in the industry’s leading wine publication. With a population a tenth of the U.S., Canada is the largest single nation buyer of California wines importing over $460 million (USD) in 2015. Let’s recognize there are more than consumers north of the border, but some terrific tastes to discover too.
Stephen Armstrong is co-founder of MAPLE Business Council, a non-profit senior executive council promoting investment, trade and entrepreneurship between Canada and Southern California. Stephen is principal of The 360 Marketer, a marketing consultancy. For more information on MAPLE, please visit www.maplesocal.com.