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Reflections on Quebec Wineries

Vineyards at Vignoble La Halte des Pèlerins

Yes there are wineries in Quebec. Yes, they have vineyards are a growing grapes. Yes, they make excellent Vin de Glace, Icewine, although most growers have to alter their methods a bit different than growers in Ontario. At an earlier conference this year a writer asked me why I was going to visit wineries in Quebec. He said they have no vineyards. My previous research indicated that they did indeed have vineyards, so I was interested in discovering what they were growing and how the wines were turning out.

My first impression is that they are growing mostly cold hardy grape hybrids and doing an excellent job of it. I have tasted many of the University of Minnesota grapes for cold climates. However, it was not until our trip to Quebec that I discovered the potential for these grapes. It will be interesting to note the wines made from these grapes as the vineyards mature. There is an increase in planting vinifera and trying to protect the vines when the temperatures fall into negative numbers. Burying the vines under soil, hay, snow or geotextile material is the common practice.

Icewine from Vignoble Isle de Bacchus

The Icewines were great. Most growers can not leave the grapes on the vines until the temperatures fall to -8ºC or lower. The reason for this is that by the time the temperatures fall, the grapes and vines are covered with snow. If the air temperature is a -8ºC chances are the snow covered grapes are warmer. Digging through snow to harvest the grapes will often damage the grapes. Many growers harvest the grapes and place them in nets above the vines until the temperatures reach the desired point. They argue that once a vine is dormant, there is no longer any give and take between the vine and the grapes. By placing the grapes in nets above the vines, the grapes experience the same weather as grapes that would be on the vines. If you like Icewines, check out Quebec’s Icewines.

Wine travel in Quebec is like wine travel in the United States and Ontario. Wine travelers will discover small family-run wineries as well as the larger facilities. Some are rustic while other are very modern. There is a complete range. Most of the wineries are small producers. You will often have an opportunity to meet the owner or winemaker while visiting. Check out the hours the tasting rooms are open. Traveling the roads to the wineries reminded us of traveling in the Finger Lakes Wine Region of New York. There was little traffic and the ride is enjoyable.

I am pleased that Kathy and I visited Quebec. We did enjoy the wines and quite a few varietal grapes that we haven’t tried previously. We will have to visit again in the future. We did get to twenty wineries and cideries; however, there are many more for us to discover.


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