I was on an anniversary trip in Montreal when I happened upon some information about Quebec’s wine industry. As it happened, I knew absolutely nothing about Canadian wine. Wine tasting in Canada? Who knew?! One of the wonderful things about wine is that it can be produced in unexpected places. Known for its harsh, cold winters, the Canadian province of Quebec doesn’t readily come to mind when one thinks of wine. But by embracing the grapes that thrive in cold weather conditions and through the use of a variety of hybrids, wine grapes are indeed produced in the area. The Eastern Townships region of Quebec just east of Montreal, is one such example of the wines produced in Quebec. So we got a rental car and drove on over to see what was what. Since I had my husband, we first stopped and had a beer at Brasserie Dunham in the small town of Dunham as well as did a bit of shopping. And then it was off to the wine…
This cute little winery sits atop a hill overlooking the town of Dunham in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. When you’re done tasting, be sure to walk out on the hill and take in the view of the 3 church steeples (“les trois clochers”) after which the winery is named. Inside, we tasted a range of wines, generally dry and very light-bodied. No big bold reds there. Standouts include multiple wines made from the cold hardy Seyval grape, which was a new grape for me. A new addition to the lineup was a red port-style wine which would be wonderful with a nice piece of dark chocolate. So of course, I had to get a bottle of the port.
Domaine Des Cotes D’Ardoise
The oldest operational winery in the province, there is much to see and do (and taste) at Domaine Des Cotes D’Ardoise. The extensive grounds play host to an eclectic collection of sculptures from many artists. Be sure to walk the many pathways and find your favorite. With a varied selection of red, white, and rose wines as well as an extensive selection of sweeter wines including ice and late harvest wines, there really is something for everyone. The rose has a nice bouquet of fruit and would be perfect for a warm day out on the patio (our server told me about their big Rose festival in the spring) and the reds made from Gamay would pair nicely with red meat or duck. The standout was the Estafette Blanc which was crisp and refreshing balanced with a smoky sweetness. This could easily be drank alone or paired with salmon or light cheeses.
There are certainly more wineries in the Eastern Townships, not to mention other parts of Quebec as well as Canada, so if you’re traveling in the area I highly recommend a day trip. The wineries are easy to find and tightly clustered together. This was definitely a nice discovery for me. I definitely enjoyed my first experience wine tasting in Canada.