No wine-ing: summer heatwave has Quebec vintners toasting a bumper crop
Published Sunday, August 26, 2018 3:37PM EDT
Last Updated Sunday, August 26, 2018 6:52PM EDT
This summer’s heatwave was not great for many of Quebec’s crops, but one group of farmers isn’t going to wine about it.
The province’s vintners are enjoying an unusually early harvest of grapes and that’s at least partially due to the extreme heat that had Quebec sweltering for much of July.
“The grapes enjoy having stress and this summer had a lot of it,” said Riviere du Chene vineyard owner Daniel Lalande. “The rain we had in July arrived at a good moment.”
Lalande said the quality of the grapes were also positively affected, which will mean a particularly high-quality wine.
“We think we won’t have more sweetness, more sugar in the grapes, but we will have less acidity,” he said. “There’s a triangle that we’re always looking for between the sugar, the acidity and the alcohol.”
The weather was good for business in other ways, too, as tourists have been flocking to Riviere du Chene for tours and tastings.
“We talk a little about history, see the vines and the vat where we produce the wine and we finish with the oak cellar,” said employee Liliane Bouchard.
While Quebec’s winters are too harsh for grapes that produce Cabernet Sauvignon or Malbec, producers are discovering hybrid vines that stand up to both winter and summer.
“They’re like teenagers, they each grow and have their own personalities and you have to learn to deal with their personalities, reach out to them and understand what they’re feeling and want,” said winery employee Eric Lapointe. “That’s why the early vineyards had a lot of trouble but now they’re getting better and better in Quebec.”
The experimentation is paying off, as Quebec’s wine industry has nearly doubled its production in the last four years, now totaling more than 2.7 million bottles per year.
While the local industry is still small, wine makers are hoping to keep expanding as more people discover what Quebec wines have to offer. Some tourists visiting the vineyard weren’t previously aware that Quebec produces wine but are coming away liking what they taste.
“I like Sonoma wines, I like Portugese wines and I had never had Canadian wines,” said American Herman Rich. “I’m really impressed. It’s a different taste than I’ve had before.”