White Varietals Grown in Canada

Photo credit: WinesInNiagara.com

In Canada, the two main commercial grape-growing areas are southern Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula and British Columbia’s Okanagan and neighbouring Similkameen valleys.   Smaller industries have been established in the other eastern provinces, most notably Nova Scotia and Québec.

For the purposes of this article and the following one next week I will focus solely on British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia.

This week the focus will be on white wine grapes grown in these 3 provinces.


The Bacchus is a white wine grape that was created by the Geilweilerhof Institute for Grape Breeding in Siebeldingen, Germany in 1933.   In Canada it is grown in British Columbia.

Bacchus wines can have powerful flavours and character.  It is low in acidity, which does not always make it very well suited for varietal wines under typical German growing conditions. Bacchus is often used for blending with other varietals.


Chardonnay is said to be the world’s favourite white wine.  It can be produced in a youthful, fruity style that’s ready for to be drunk soon after bottling, or as a complex, barrel-fermented wine capable of aging for years.

Chardonnay wines are medium to full-bodied and pair with a range of simple or complex foods.

In France, Chardonnay is labelled by the region in which it is grown, like Chablis. It is also a key variety in Champagne.

Chardonnay is native to the Burgundy region of France but is now grown in all 3 of Canada’s wine provinces.


Chasselas or Chasselas blanc is a wine grape variety grown mainly in Switzerland, France, Germany, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, New Zealand and Chile.  In Canada it is grown in British Columbia and Nova Scotia.

Chasselas is usually used to make a full, dry and fruity white wine. However, it is also suitable as a table grape.  It is grown in Turkey and Hungary for this purpose.


Ehrenfelser is a white wine grape variety of German origin. Outside Germany, Ehrenfelser has found some success mainly in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley. B.C. wineries including Cedar Creek, Lake Breeze, Gray Monk, Gehringer Brothers, Mount Boucherie, Quails’ Gate and Summerhill make both still and ice wine styles using this grape.


The Geisenheim Grape Breeding Institute was founded in 1872 and is located in the town of Geisenheim, Germany. In 1876 Swiss-born professor Hermann Müller joined the institute, where he developed his namesake grape variety, Müller-Thurgau, which became Germany’s most-planted grape variety in the 1970s.

In Canada Geisenheim is grown in Nova Scotia and Ontario.


Gewürztraminer is an aromatic wine grape variety used in white wines and performs best in cooler climates.

Gewürztraminer is a variety with a pink to red skin colour, which makes it a white wine grape as opposed to the blue to black-skinned varieties commonly referred to as red wine grapes. It has a high amount of natural sugar.  The wines are usually off-dry.

In Canada, Gewürztraminer is grown in British Columbia and Ontario.


The Kerner grape is an aromatic white grape variety.  It is the 8th most planted variety in Germany.  Kerner is most commonly planted in Germany but it is also grown in Austria, Switzerland, the island of Hokkaido in Japan and Italy.  It is now grown in Ontario.

L’Acadie Blanc

L’Acadie Blanc is a white Canadian wine grape variety that is a hybrid crossing of Cascade and Seyve-Villard. The grape was created in 1953 in Niagara, Ontario at what is now the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Today the grape is widely planted in Nova Scotia, with some plantings in Ontario. It is considered to be Nova Scotia’s equivalent to Chardonnay.

Muscat Ottonel

Muscat Ottonel was created in Loir, France.  It is a white grape that is easier to cultivate in cooler climates than the other Muscats, as it ripens early and produces more delicate wines than Muscat Blanc a Petits Grains or Muscat of Alexandria.

It is popular in Alsace, France, Austria, Yugoslavia, Croatia, Hungary and Ontario.

New York Muscat

These grapes are used in dry wines and Icewines. Bold and exotic, New York Muscat produces aromatic but dry, full-bodied white wines with intense aromas of roses, grapefruit and exotic fruit.  These grapes are grown in Nova Scotia.

Pinot Blanc

Pinot Blanc is a versatile white-wine grape variety that is used in the production of still, sparkling and sweet dessert wines.  It is grown in all 3 wine provinces.

Pinot Gris

Pinot Gris, Pinot Grigio or Grauburgunder is a white wine grape variety. It normally has a grayish-blue fruit, but the grapes can have a brownish pink to black, and even white appearance. The wines produced from this grape also vary in colour from a deep golden yellow to copper and even a light shade of pink.

Pinot Gris is grown around the world including in all 3 of the Canadian provinces.


Riesling is a white grape variety which originated in the Rhine region of Germany. Riesling is an aromatic grape variety displaying flowery, almost perfumed aromas as well as high acidity. It is used to make dry, semi-sweet, sweet, and sparkling white wines. It is one of the top three white wine varieties along with Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.

It is grown in all 3 Canadian wine provinces.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blanc is a green-skinned grape variety that originates from the Bordeaux region of France. Sauvignon Blanc is planted in many of the world’s wine regions, producing a crisp, dry, and refreshing white varietal wine. The grape is also a component of the famous dessert wines. Sauvignon Blanc is widely cultivated in France, Chile, Romania, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Bulgaria, the states of Washington and California and the 3 Canadian wine regions.

Depending on the climate, the flavour can range from aggressively grassy to sweetly tropical. In cooler climates, the grape has a tendency to produce wines with noticeable acidity and the flavour of green grass, green bell peppers and nettles with some tropical fruit and floral notes. In warmer climates, it can develop more tropical fruit notes.


Sémillon is a golden-skinned grape used to make dry and sweet white wines, mostly in France and Australia. However, it is also grown in British Columbia and Ontario.

Seyval Blanc

Seyval Blanc is a hybrid wine grape variety used to make white wines. It is grown mainly in England, the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, Oregon, as well as, to a lesser extent in Nova Scotia.

Seyverni (NS)

Seyverni is the name of a Russian red-grape variety. The variety has been imported to the Finger Lakes area of New York as well as Nova Scotia.  The grape is very resistant to frost.


Vidal is a white hybrid grape variety. It is a very winter-hardy variety that manages to produce high sugar levels in cold climates with moderate to high acidity.  Due to its winter hardiness, this grape variety is cultivated most extensively in the Canadian wine regions of Ontario, British Columbia and Nova Scotia where it is often used for ice wine production.

The wine produced from Vidal tends to be very fruity, with aroma notes of grapefruit and pineapple. Due to its high acidity and sugar potential, it is particularly suited to sweeter, dessert wines. In particular, because of the tough outer skin of the fruit, it is well adapted for the production of ice wine.

Viogner (BC, ON)

Viognier is a white wine grape variety. It is the only permitted grape for the French wine Condrieu in the Rhône Valley. Outside of the Rhône, Viognier can be found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Israel, the United States, British Columbia and Ontario.

Viognier has the potential to produce full-bodied wines with a lush, soft character. It has aromatics that include notes of peach, pears, violets and minerals.

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Wine and Cheese to Prevent Alzheimer’s?

A study has been completed suggesting that the foods you eat can have an impact on your cognitive ability in the future.  It suggests that eating cheese and drinking red wine may actually improve your brain’s cognitive abilities  Diet has long been considered a marker for our health later in life and studies have shown a link between diet, Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

Photo credit: gourmetcheesedetective.com

The study, published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, analyzed data over a 10-year period from 1,787 people between the ages of 46 and 77 in the United Kingdom. The researchers specifically looked at participants’ ability to think quickly, as well as their diet and alcohol consumption over time.

Researchers found that certain foods and drinks, including red wine and cheese, seemed to have protective effects against cognitive decline. Moderate consumption of red wine and cheese was found to have the best correlation for participants who had no genetic risk of developing cognitive diseases.  However, the experts caution against going overboard. The researchers were able to explain up to 15.6 percent of the variation in cognition over time.  They did go on to say that they were only able to see what the participants were eating and drinking during the 10-year study.

Though the findings are encouraging from a wine lover’s perspective, the researchers did say you shouldn’t load up on wine and cheese just yet as more research is needed.  They warn that the correlation does not equal cause. We shouldn’t leap to the assumption that drinking wine and eating cheese lowers our risk of cognitive decline over time as the study did not examine which components in cheese and wine were beneficial. Further clinical trials would be needed to determine if explicitly changing diet could impact brain health.

Diet and exercise remain as the two most important things that a person should manage for body health and brain health.  Doctors say that active people with good body weights are far more likely to retain good brain function, regardless of genetics.

Regarding the link with alcohol in this particular study, doctors warn against being too zealous. All things should be consumed in moderation.  While it’s nice to think that modest red wine consumption could have benefits, it’s also important to remember the harm that can result from over-indulgence.  However, it is good to know that eating cheese and drinking wine in moderation has potential benefits beyond just helping us cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Summertime Wine Drinks

Photo Credit: WeSpeakWine.com

Wine cocktails make a light and refreshing summertime drink.  Whether you have a bottle of red, white, or sparkling wine on hand, you can use it to mix up some great wine cocktails. From fruity sangrias to imaginative cocktails, these drink recipes are cool and refreshing for summer.

Simple Syrup

Several of these recipes contain simple syrup.  Simple syrup is made by combining equal parts of sugar and water, which is stirred over low heat (or microwave) until the sugar is dissolved.  It is then cooled to room temperature before using.

Fragole on Ice


  • 1 strawberry
  • 1½ oz. vodka
  • ½ oz. fresh lemon juice
  • ½ oz. basil simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Rosé
  • Fresh strawberry slice.

Steps to Make It

  • Muddle a strawberry in a shaker
  • Combine vodka, fresh lemon juice, basil simple syrup and ice in a shaker
  • Shake well
  • Pour into a cocktail glass with ice
  • Top with chilled Rosé
  • Garnish with a fresh strawberry slice

Grapefruit Spritz


  • 1 ½  oz. grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz. sweet vermouth
  • ½ tbsp. simple syrup
  • 4 to 5 oz. Prosecco

Steps to Make It

  • Add grapefruit juice, sweet vermouth and simple syrup to cocktail shaker
  • Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  • Shake until chilled
  • Strain the liquid into an iced glass
  • Top with Prosecco
  • Garnish with a slice of grapefruit

Ice-y Martini


  • 1 oz. Cabernet Franc ice wine
  • 2 oz. vodka

Steps to Make It

  • Combine ingredients in a glass and stir

Pinot Noir-tini


  • 1 ½  oz. Pinot Noir
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • ½ oz. dry vermouth
  • Ice
  • Amarena cherries

Steps to Make It

  • Pour Pinot Noir, vodka and dry vermouth in a mixing glass
  • Add ice
  • Stir until the glass is chilled
  • Strain into a martini glass
  • Garnish with a couple of Amerena cherries


Peach Sangria

What is different about this one is that it uses fruit liqueurs instead of fresh fruit so there’s no need to make it the day before. The recipe yields about 8 1/2 cups or about 16 four-ounce servings. Since the liquors and juices are all poured equally, it’s easy to increase or decrease as needed.


  • 1 (750 mL) bottle dry white wine (Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 1/4 cups mango rum
  • 1 1/4 cups peach schnapps
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 3 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 1/2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • Fresh peach slices
  • Fresh mango slices

Steps to Make It

  • In a punch bowl or large pitcher, pour the wine, mango rum, peach schnapps, citrus juices, and lemon-lime soda. Stir well
  • Fill with large pieces of ice
  • Serve in glasses
  • Garnish with peach and mango slices

Pineapple Sangria


  • 1 750 ml bottle of Moscato
  • 1 cup coconut rum
  • ¼ cup Triple Sec
  • Splash pineapple juice
  • Splash orange juice
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Sliced orange
  • Sliced lemon

Steps to Make It

  • Mix the bottle of Moscato, coconut rum and triple sec together
  • Add pineapple juice and orange juice
  • Stir in strawberries
  • Garnish with  orange and lemon slices

Raspberry Lemonade Moscato Sangria


  • 1 (750 ml) bottle white wine
  • 12 ounces/1 1/2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • 12 ounces lemonade
  • 2 lemons (sliced)
  • 2 cups fresh raspberries (frozen can be used)
  • 1/3 cup sugar

Steps to Make It

  • Mix the wine, berries, lemons, lemonade and sugar in a pitcher
  • Cover and place in the refrigerator overnight
  • Add the lemon-lime soda just prior to serving
  • Add ice in either the pitcher or individual glasses
  • Garnish with lemon slices

Sauvignon Blanc Summer Sangria


  • 1 750 ml bottle of Sauvignon Blanc
  • ¾ cup of vodka
  • ½ cup tropical fruit juice
  • 6 tbs. thawed frozen lemonade concentrate
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 1 package fresh raspberries
  • 1 package fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups club soda

Steps to Make It

  • Mix the Sauvignon Blanc, vodka, tropical fruit juice, lemonade concentrate, sugar, raspberries, blueberries and club sod

Spicy Summer


  • 1 ½ oz. tequila
  • 1 ½ oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 1-inch cubes of watermelon
  • 1 slice of jalapeño pepper
  • Sparkling Rosé wine

Steps to Make It

  • Combine tequila, lime juice and simple syrup in a shaker
  • Add cubes of watermelon and circular slices of jalapeño pepper to the shaker
  • If you want it less spicy, omit the pepper seeds
  • Muddle until thoroughly blended
  • Add ice and shake for at least 30 seconds
  • Double strain into a wine glass over a large ice cube
  • Fill a glass to the top with Sparkling Rosé
  • Garnish with mint, rose, and jalapeño

Strawberry Rhubarb Sangria


Rhubarb Syrup:

  • 2 cups rhubarb (diced or roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar


  • 1 bottle Pinot Grigio
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup St. Germaine Liquor
  • 1 cup strawberries (sliced)
  • 1 lime (sliced)

Steps to Make It

  • Begin by preparing the rhubarb syrup. Heat the water, sugar, and rhubarb in a small saucepan  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium low heat, until the mixture has thickened and turned a light pink
  • Strain the rhubarb out of the liquid.; place the strained liquid in the refrigerator to cool
  • Combine the bottle of wine, vodka, St. Germaine liquor, strawberries and limes in a large pitcher. Once the rhubarb syrup has cooled, add it to the wine mixture. Let the sangria sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 days. 
  • Garnish with sliced strawberries and limes

Tequila Sangria


Hibiscus Syrup:

  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup sugar (white granulated)
  • 1 tea bag hibiscus tea


  • 1 1/2 cups tequila
  • 1 1/2 cups white wine
  • 3/4 cup hibiscus syrup
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 2 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1/2 liter club soda

Steps to Make It

Make the Hibiscus Syrup

  • In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the sugar and stir until it’s completely dissolved
  • Remove from the heat, add the tea bag, and steep for 10 minutes
  • Discard the tea bag and let the syrup continue to cool. Bottle and store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks

Make the Tequila Sangria

  • In a pitcher or punchbowl, combine the tequila, wine, hibiscus syrup, and orange and cranberry juices
  • Stir well
  • Add ice and fill with club soda
  • Garnish with orange, lemon and lime slices

Source the Raleigh


  • 1 oz. Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. watermelon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • Soda water

Steps to Make It

  • Fill cocktail shaker with ice
  • Add Sauvignon Blanc, vodka, watermelon juice, simple syrup, and lemon juice to the shaker
  • Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice
  • Top with soda water

Strawberry and Rosemary Rosé Cocktail


  • 1 bottle of Brut Rosé Champagne or Sparkling Wine
  • 1 cup strawberry-flavored vodka
  • 2 cups lemon-lime soda
  • Strawberries for garnish
  • Rosemary for garnish

Steps to Make It

  • Pour Brut Rosé Champagne or dry Rosé Sparkling Wine over ice
  •  Add strawberry-flavored vodka and lemon-lime soda
  • Garnish with strawberries and rosemary

Tropical Twist


  • ½ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ oz. honey syrup
  • ½ oz. rum
  • 2 oz. Prosecco

Steps to Make It

  • Combine lime juice, honey syrup and rum in a cocktail shaker
  • Add ice and shake
  • Add Prosecco
  • Strain into Champagne flute
  • Garnish with lime peel

Watermelon Wine Cooler


  • 1 oz. Sauvignon Blanc
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. watermelon juice
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. lemon
  • 1½ oz. soda water

Steps to Make It

  • Combine ingredients except soda water in a cocktail shaker filled with ice
  • Shake and strain into a glass filled with ice
  • Top with soda water

White Wine Spritzer


  • 3 ounces chilled white wine (Riesling, Pinot Grigio, or Sauvignon Blanc are used most often)
  • 1​ ounce ​cold club soda (or mineral water)

Steps to Make It

  • Fill a white wine glass or highball glass with ice
  • Pour in the wine
  • Top with club soda or mineral water
  • Garnish with lime wedge or orange peel

Enjoy your summer while sipping one of these cool refreshing wine beverages!

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Virtual Wine Events

The times are changing in part due to changes in technology and in part due to COVID-19.   A lot of gatherings and meetings will work well using Zoom, Google Meets or another online meeting facility.  The wine industry has been forced to find alternatives to hosting in-person events and wine tastings and even award ceremonies have to now follow this practice.

In order to participate in a wine tasting each attendee should be prepared to do some work ahead of the virtual gathering.  Attendees will need to obtain the list of wines to be sampled and then purchase a bottle of each of the wines.  Obtaining these wines may prove to be a challenge given that they may not be readily available from the local wine store.  Some may need to be obtained directly from the winery and if the winery is not located in the same vicinity as you, you will have to order the wines a couple of weeks ahead of the event.

In attending a tasting without having access to the wines to sample, you have to solely rely on the host’s verbal description. I think the value of the information would be lost without the opportunity to sample the wine yourself. I think it would be about as enticing as watching paint dry.

But if you have the wines being tasted, given that tastings involve only a small sampling of each wine, you will be left with a significant portion of each of the wines that you will then need to try and preserve until they can be consumed.

The same challenges are faced by anyone attending a wine award ceremony who wants to taste any of the wines eligible for or that received a reward.

Making the most of the current environment, there are now companies and wineries that will sell you a wine tasting kit.  These kits consist of a bottle of each wine to be tasted, reviewer’s notes on each wine, and a link to a video of the expert conducting the actual wine tasting.  This gives you the opportunity to invite your friends over (assuming there isn’t a lockdown) for a private wine tasting event hosted by a wine expert.   In some cases you can arrange for a “live” tasting using a remote meeting site like Zoom.

Without a doubt some events and activities are best attended in person rather than virtually. However given these strange times that we live in, virtual events are probably better than no events.

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The Annapolis Valley

Grapes have been grown in Nova Scotia since the 1600s, and wine has been an evolving, increasingly sophisticated part of the cultural landscape for almost 25 years. The soils and climate of the Annapolis Valley encourage wines with a strong sense of provenance, and as winemakers continue to gain a greater understanding of their land, the wines are only going to get better and better.

Though Chardonnay and Riesling are grown there, the warm, short growing season, combined with the direct cooling influence of the Atlantic Ocean and the severe winters, have necessitated the cultivation of winter-hardy grapes. Hybrid varieties such as L’Acadie Blanc, Seyval Blanc, Lucie Kuhlmann and New York Muscat form the backbone of this region’s aromatic, fresh, characterful white wines. Pinot Noir is grown too, for use in the expressive sparkling wines for which Nova Scotia is becoming increasingly well-known.

Nova Scotia has one appellation, which is called Tidal Bay. It was initiated in 2012 and there are now 70 grape growers and more than 800 acres of grape vines.  Though each winery may develop their own unique take, strict rules of production and a rigorous evaluation process ensure that Tidal Bay wines reflect a distinct Nova Scotian aromatic character and a consistent flavour profile.

The Wineries of the Annapolis Valley

Below I have profiled the larger producers in the Annapolis Valley but there are a handful of others that I have not included here.

Avondale Sky Winery

Avondale Sky’s objective is to grow the best grapes possible in Nova Scotia.  They have one of the oldest vineyards in the province, but the winery itself is one of the newest.

Their retail shop is a restored 180-year-old former church that was transported 40 kilometres over the highest tides in the world.  They produce small lots of wine that are crafted with care.



  • Geisenheim
  • L’Acadie
  • New York Muscat
  • Petite Milo
  • Vidal Blanc
  • Ontario Chardonnay and Riesling grapes are used in some of the wines


  • Baco Noir
  • Castel
  • DeChaunac
  • Léon Millot
  • Lucie Kuhlman
  • Maréchal Foch
  • Marquette
  • Pinot Noir

Benjamin Bridge Vineyards

Benjamin Bridge is Canada’s most acclaimed sparkling wine house, situated in Nova Scotia’s picturesque Gaspereau Valley. Its cool climate is moderated by the Bay of Fundy, promoting natural acidities and the ability for the grapes to remain on the vine for an extended period of time.  This is required for the classic Champagne varietals, which are critical to producing sparkling wines of richness, structure, and finesse.  The climate has a close resemblance to France’s Champagne region.

Benjamin Bridge is primarily a traditional method sparkling wine producer.  Their portfolio is also comprised of brisk, aromatic whites – wines that take full advantage of the same, unique climatic traits that produce world-class sparkling wines. Nova 7, coined “Nova Scotia’s iconic wine,” pioneered an effervescent, off-dry style in the province, crafted on a foundation of quintessential freshness.



  • Chardonnay
  • Geisenheim
  • L’Acadie
  • Muscat
  • Ortega
  • Riesling
  • Seyval
  • Vidal


  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir

Blomidon Estate Winery

Blomidon is a boutique winery that crafts small lots of 100% Nova Scotian wines from estate-grown grapes.   They have won numerous national and international awards and acclaim for their wines

They are located in a scenic 10-hectare setting on the edge of the Minas Basin near Canning, a unique micro-climate for grape-growing.



  • Chardonnay
  • L’Acadie Blanc
  •  Seyval Blanc
  • New York Muscat
  • Riesling


  • Baco Noir
  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir

Gaspereau Vineyards

Gaspereau Vineyards is a boutique winery best known for outstanding Rieslings and elegant white and robust red wines. They have had award-winning, premium, estate-grown wines.



  • Chardonnay
  • New York Muscat
  • Riesling
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Vidal Blanc


  • Lucie Kuhlmann


  • Silver at 2018 The National Wine Awards of Canada
  • Double Gold at 2017 All Canadian Wine Championships
  • Silver at 2017 The National Wine Awards of Canada
  • Best in Class for Tidal Bays at 2017 Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards
  • Silver at 2015 Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards
  • Top Scoring for Tidal Bay at 2014 Atlantic Canadian Wine Awards
  • Silver at  2014 Wine Align’s National Wine Awards of Canada

Domaine de Grand Pré Winery

Domaine de Grand Pré is the oldest farm winery in Atlantic Canada. The Swiss-born Stutz family re-opened the doors to the public in 2000 displaying a European sensibility for quality and a passion for wine.

They grow specialty grapes that are developed for Nova Scotia’s specific climate and landscape. The result is an array of award-winning vintages.



  • L’Acadie Blanc
  • New York Muscat
  • Ortega
  • Seyval Blanc
  • Vidal Blanc

Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards

Lightfoot & Wolfville is a 4th generation family-farm.  They are certified organic (Ecocert) and biodynamic (Demeter).  Their focus is on classic Burgundian-inspired Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Rieslings and other German-styled white wines, as well as traditional method prestige cuvée sparkling wines.



  • Chardonnay
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Geisenheim-318
  • L’Acadie Blanc
  • Ortega
  • Riesling
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Siegerrebe
  • Vidal


  • Frontenac Noir
  • Léon Millot
  • Marquette
  • Pinot Meunier
  • Pinot Noir
  • Petite Pearl

Luckett Vineyards

Luckett Vineyards aims to capture the magic of Nova Scotia’s distinctive character through their wines. They are situated by the Bay of Fundy where they produce unique white wines.



  • L’Acadie
  • Osceola Muscat
  • Traminette
  • Ortega
  • Seyval
  • Vidal

Mercator Vineyards

Mercator Vineyards is distinctive for its authentic heritage and its timeless, relaxed and simple focus on old-world style wines.

Located just east of the town of Wolfville and adjacent to the Grand-Pré National Historic site, the vineyards are located on a bluff overlooking the historic Acadian dykelands where the Cornwallis River enters the tidal bay of the Minas Basin.

The winery is devoted entirely to growing exceptional grapes and making extraordinary limited-edition wines.



  • Chardonnay
  • L’Acadie
  • Léon Millot
  • Seyval
  • New York Muscat
  • Petite Milo


  • Marquette

Planters Ridge Winery

Planters Ridge is situated in a unique microclimate where it is bordered in the north by the basalt and granite of the North Mountain that rises from the shores of the Bay of Fundy. To the south it is sheltered from the cooler air of the Atlantic Ocean by South Mountain and Wolfville Ridge.

Planters Ridge is housed in a renovated 156-year-old timber frame barn that combines historical features with modern flourishes. This artisanal winery has invested in state-of-the-art equipment, producing highly acclaimed wines. With a focus on blends, they have developed a reputation for crafting aromatic whites and well-balanced, silky-smooth reds.



  • Frontenac Blanc
  • Frontenac Gris
  • L’Acadie
  • Muscat Ottonel
  • New York  Muscat
  • Seyval


  • Castel
  • Lucie Kuhlmann
  • Marquette
  • Pinot Noir

Sainte-Famille Wines

Sainte Famille Wines Ltd. is a small family owned vineyard and winery located on an original Acadian Village site known as “La Paroisse Sainte-Famille De Pisiquit” which was settled around 1685.  It has one of the warmest vineyard sites in Nova Scotia. The result is rich full bodied reds such as their premium Old Vines Marechal Foch, produced from the oldest vines in Nova Scotia. They have also produced whites of exceptional character such as the 2004 L’Acadie Blanc, which was chosen Best of Appellation.



  • Geisenheim #318
  • L’Acadie
  • Muscat
  • Riesling
  • Seyval
  • Siegfried


  • Cabernet Franc
  • Marechal Foch.

Even though the Annapolis Valley produces more native grapes than Ontario and British Columbia, who produce more European varietals, the wines of Nova Scotia should not be discounted when considering quality and taste.  The vintners of Nova Scotia have made the most out of the harsher grape growing climate and produce some excellent wines.

If you ever travel to the Annapolis Valley, taking the time to explore some of these wineries would be well worth the time.

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Good Inexpensive Wine

What is considered cheap or inexpensive depends on who the consumer is. It is a very relative term.  For example, to some people an inexpensive wine is one with a price point under $50, for others it may be one under $10.  The definition of inexpensive or cheap is as individual as the person making the purchase.  For the purposes of this discussion, I am considering a value of under $20 as an inexpensive bottle of wine. 

If a wine is too cheap there are those who believe that profit is being achieved mainly by producing large volumes sacrificing quality.  Producers operating in this manner have minimal control over the quality of the grapes or the manner in which they are produced.     Under these circumstances vintners purchase grapes from a number of different growers whom they have limited or no influence over how the grapes are produced.   However, each producer should be judged on their own merits.

I love the challenge of scoping out good inexpensive wines, especially those that need to mature for a few years before enjoying.

Finding the Diamond in the Rough

There is certainly some luck involved in finding great inexpensive wines but there are ways of putting the odds in your favour.  The clues are often right under your nose starting with the label on the bottle.  Don’t forget to check out the label on the back of the bottle as well.  The label will provide the name of the vintner and often identify the varietal(s).  Selecting a varietal you enjoy will increase the odds of you selecting a wine to your taste.

It will also identify any quality designation that the wine has been provided by the nation where the wine was produced.

The country of origin will also provide clues as to the wine’s flavour and intensity.  Generally speaking, wines produced in hotter climates have more intense flavour.

The label will also display any sustainability or organic qualifications that the wine has.

Information regarding the wines offered for sale will often be provided by the seller.  Look for information in brochures, catalogues, or stock cards that may be available in the store or on the merchant’s web site. 

Many wineries have their own web site which may provide detailed information pertaining to the various wines they produce, including such information as the varietal(s) contained, how the wine was aged, tannin content, acid levels, etc., all of which impact the flavour and help determine if the wine may be a good fit for you.

However, when all else fails or you like to select wines solely on how the label inspires you, simply standing and gazing at the wines on the shelf may be the only information you need.  This is how my wife does it and though I am aghast at this process I cannot argue with her success rate.  Her most recent victory was in selecting a 2019 Fantini Sangiovese which is now our general house wine.  The price is a whopping $8.95.

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BC’s Okanagan Valley Wine Region

Viticulture began in British Columbia around 1859, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that a quality-focused approach saw the emergence of consistent, comprehensive excellence in their wines. The Okanagan Valley is situated in the rain shadow of the Coast and Monashee mountain ranges, which protect the valley from rain and help create ideal conditions for over 60 grape varieties to flourish.

The valley stretches over 250 kilometres, experiencing a temperature differential of about 5°C from north to south which, along with numerous site-specific mesoclimates, has a significant impact on the style and type of wines produced.

With 84% of the province’s vineyard acreage, the valley stretches over 250 kilometres, across four sub-regions, each with distinct soil and climate conditions suited to growing a range of varietals from sun-ripened reds to lively, fresh and often crisp whites.  The four sub-regions are Golden Mile Bench, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Falls and Skaha Bench.

With both quiet family-run boutique vineyards and world-class operations, the Okanagan Valley wineries are rich in tradition and character, consistently ranking among the world’s best at international competitions.  Nearly every style of wine is produced across the whole spectrum of sweetness levels that include still, sparkling, fortified and dessert wines—most notably ice wines.

The more than 60 grape varieties grown in the Okanagan include Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Auxerrois Blanc, Marechal Foch and Cabernet Franc. Additionally many German varieties are still found throughout the Okanagan including Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Bacchus, Optima, Ehrenfelser, Kerner and Siegerebe.

Recently, growers have been planting warmer climate varieties typically not associated with the Canadian wine industry. These varietals include Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Trebbiano, Pinotage, Malbec, Barbera and Zinfandel.

The Okanagan Valley is on my bucket-list of places I would like to visit once we reach the post-COVID-19 era.  The valley provides not only great wines but is a hiker’s and biker’s dream, with awe-inspiring vistas, theatre, music, boating, art galleries, craft breweries, boutiques, artisanal bakeries and great restaurants.

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The Wines of Switzerland

Switzerland may be a little known wine producing nation but it has been making wine for more than two thousand years. Swiss wine’s lack of fame is not due to any lack of quality or quantity, but because it is produced mostly for the Swiss themselves.

The Swiss consume nearly all the wine they make. In 2016, Swiss residents drank 89 million litres of domestic wine which made up only about a third of the total 235 million litres of wine they drank.  They export only about 1% of their wine production and the majority of that goes mainly to Germany.

Things are gradually changing as the world is beginning to discover the high quality of Swiss Pinot Noir and white wines made from the locally grown Chasselas.

Switzerland possesses multi-cultural influence.  The Germanic wine influence is demonstrated by a preference for varietal winemaking and crisp, refreshing wine styles, and is most prevalent in the German-speaking north between Zurich and the Rhine. French influences are felt mostly in the French-speaking south-west in Geneva, Vaud and Valais.  Switzerland’s favourite grape varieties – Chasselas, sometimes referred to as “Fendant”, Pinot Noir, Gamay and Merlot are all of French origin.

Do to the terrain, Swiss wines are some of the world’s most expensive. Many vineyards are inaccessible to tractors and other vineyard machinery so most work is done by hand.  This substantially increases production costs.  This does have an advantage; when grapes are harvested by hand, there is an obvious incentive to favour quality over quantity.

The Chasselas white wine grape is gradually giving up production to more popular ‘international’ varieties like Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc and Gewurztraminer are also grown in Swiss vineyards.

Red wines now outnumber whites in Switzerland. Pinot Noir, also known as Blauburgunder, is the most widely produced and planted variety in the country, making up almost 30% of wines produced.  Chasselas represents just over a quarter of all wines.

The next most popular wine in the red category is Gamay. It is often blended with Pinot Noir to produce “Dôle” wines.

Also significant among Swiss red wine grapes is Merlot. Syrah has also done well here, even if only in the warmest parts of the country.

Wine has been produced in Switzerland for more than 2,000 years. As in France, the spread of viticulture during the Middle Ages was mainly driven by monasteries.

Today the Swiss wine industry has about 16,000 hectares of vineyards that produce about 100 million liters of wine each year.

The government body in charge of the Swiss appellation system, the OIC, has a separate title for each of the country’s three official languages: “Organisme Intercantonal de Certification” in French, ‘Interkantonale Zertifizierungsstelle” in German and “Organismo Intercantonale di Certificazione” in Italian.  The OIC is responsible for delineating the official Swiss wine regions and creating wine quality guidelines and laws. The OIC is reportedly in talks to bring their labelling practices into line with European standards even though the country is not a member of the European Union.

I myself have never had the opportunity to try Swiss wine but I will keep an eye out for it whenever I cruise the aisles in the Vintages section of my local liquor store.

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A Rose by Another Name

There are in excess of 100 grape varietals that have 2 or more uniquely different names.  Many of these have multiple names within the same country!  I have compiled a list of the more common ones that make an appearance in wine stores in North America.

So what’s in a name? Are they always interchangeable, or does their place and name hold a clue to their style?

Where a grape is grown may greatly impact its flavour.  I have compiled some examples where this is the case.

Red Varietals

Blaufränkisch grapes, also known as Lemberger, Kékfrankos, Frankovka, and Frankinja, are found in the temperate and distinctly continental latitudes of Central Europe.  In eastern Austria, it’s known as Blaufränkisch. In southern Germany, it’s Lemberger. It also goes by Kékfrankos in Hungary, Frankovka in northern Croatia and western Slovakia and Frankinja in eastern Slovenia. No matter the name, it produces quality reds that age well. It also forms part of Egri Bikaver, Hungary’s historic “bulls’ blood” wine.

Fairly full-bodied for such northerly reaches, Blaufränkisch produces structured, elegant wines.  Cooler vintages or sites add an irresistible pepperiness to the usually dark-fruit spectrum, where there are notes of dark cherry and blueberry.

Vinified in stainless steel, Blaufränkisch is sometimes confused with fuller-bodied Gamay. However, when aged in small, new oak barrels, Blaufränkisch attains some punch and needs to be laid down for a few years to return to its inherent subtlety.

Grenache, also known as Garnacha and Cannonau is known for its luscious red fruit flavours. Grenache is an archetypal Mediterranean variety. It needs full sun, will withstand heat and drought and it thrives on meager, stony soils.

Grenache is full-bodied without being tannic. It can also make charming, aromatic reds in the Rhône cru villages of Vinsobres, Rasteau, Gigondas and Vacqueyras. As Cannonau in Sardinia, it’s bigger, stronger and bolder.

Malbec, also known as Côt, is synonymous with Argentina, where this aromatic, black grape revels in the bright, high-altitude sunshine of the Andes.

Malbec is sometimes referred to as Côt in France. It’s even one of the five permitted varieties in red Bordeaux, even though it ripens unreliably there.  In France’s cooler Loire Valley, Côt produces wines that are very fresh, and often spicy.

The Mourvèdre grape also referred to as Monastrell, Mataro, Rossola Near and Garrut, is a thick-skinned, small-berried grape of Spanish origin that thrives in hot climates. Mourvèdre is at home on the Mediterranean coast in Spain, where it’s called Monastrell, and forms the gutsy, heavy, tannic reds of Yecla, Jumilla and Alicante.  In Australia, where it’s known as Mataro, it is included in Grenache, Syrah and Mourvèdre blends.

The Primitivo grape of Italy is also known as Tribidrag or Crljenak Kaštelanski in its native Croatia and Montenegro, as Primitivo in Puglia and as Zinfandel in California.

As a red wine, Zinfandel always boasts full, juicy and plump fruit that covers a spectrum of ripeness, often with elevated alcohol levels of up to 14%.  In Puglia, Primitivo is smooth and warming. On an inland elevation, Gioia del Colle produces the freshest versions, while coastal Primitivo di Manduria is strong, dense and powerful. In Croatia and Montenegro, Tribidrag is produced as a fruity local wine.

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, can taste almost like polar opposites depending on the climate. Syrah was traditionally a French grape found in the Northern Rhône region.  There the grape has firm, drying tannins and is more slender.

Known as Shiraz in Australia, the grape is most distinct in the hot Barossa and warm McLaren Vale regions, but it also thrives in cooler Canberra. Australian Shiraz is often described as peppery, big and bold.

White Varietals

Chenin Blanc is also known as Pineau de la Loire and Steen.  It is native to France’s cool Loire Valley, where it is also called Pineau de la Loire. Its acid is high, and its expression always tinged with apple flavors that range from green to dried.

It’s inherent acidity makes Chenin Blanc a popular grape in South Africa, where it’s referred to as Steen.

Pinot Gris, also known as Pinot Grigio, Grauburgunder, Fromenteau, Pinot Beurot, Ruländer, Malvoisie, Pinot Jaune and Szürkebarát, may range from being an easy-drinker to a full-flavoured white.

Easy-drinking, lighter versions are often labeled Pinot Grigio, while rounder wines, often with some residual sweetness, are designated Pinot Gris. Pinot Gris makes full-fruited, rounded whites heavy enough to accompany red meat and are suitable for aging.

The Vermentino grape is also known as Rolle, Pigato, and Favorita and thrives in Italy, France and on the islands of Corsica and Sardini., prized for its fine, crisp acidity.

On its own, Vermentino displays citrus aromatics and inherent crispness. From the Tuscan coast, it evokes a citrus-scent.  Pigato, from Liguria, while still fresh, is a little more robust and structured.

As Vermentino di Gallura from Sardinia, the grape is fuller-bodied with intense, medicinal notes of lemon balm and yarrow. When grown in places such as Italy’s Piedmont region, it is known as Favorita.  There the grape takes on an aromatic quality. More recently, Vermentino is also finding a new home in Australia.

The Lists

Below is a more complete list of both red and white varietals and countries where they are located. 


Blaufränkisch / LimbergerAustria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Italy, USA
Corvina / CorvinoneItaly
Douce Noir / Charbono / Bonarda / TurcaFrance; California; Argentina
Gamay / Gamay NoirFrance Loire Valley
Grenache / Garnacha / Cannonau  / Lladoner Pelut / Lledoner PelutSpain, France, Australia
Kindzmarauli/ SaperaviGeorgia
Lacrima di Morro / Lacrima NearItaly, Marche
Magarach Bastardo / Bastardo MagarachUkraine
Magaratch Ruby / Magarach RubyUkraine
Magliocco Canino / MaiolicaItaly, Calabria
Magliocco Dolce / Marsigliana NearItaly, Calabria
Malbec / Auxerrois / CotFrance, Argentina, USA, Australia
Malvasia di Schierano / Malvasia NearGreece
Mandelaria / Mandelari / AmorghianoGreece
Mavrodafni / MavrodaphneGreece, Achaea
Mavrud / MavroudiBulgaria, Thrace
Mencía / Jaén ColouradoSpain, Galicia
Millot  / Léon MillotFrance
Montù / MontuniItaly
Mourvèdre / Monastrell / Mataro / Rossola Nera / GarrutSpain, France, Australia
Négrette /  Pinot St. GeorgeFrance
Nerello Mascalese / Nerello CappuccioItaly, Sicily
Perricone / GuarnacciaItaly, Sicily
Pinot Meunier / Schwarzriesling / MüllerebeFrance
Pinot Noir / Spätburgunder / Blauburgunder / Pinot Nero  France
Plavina / Brajda Mala / Brajdica / Bratkovina / Jurkovica / Marasovka /Modrulj / Plavac Plavina / Plavinac / Plavina Mala / Plavina Sitnah / Plavina Velka / Plavka / Plavka Mala / Velika PlavkaCroatia, Dalmatia
Refosco / RefoškItaly
Rouchet / Ruché / RocheItaly
Rufete / Tinta Pinheira / Tinta Carvalha / RufetaPortugal
Schiava / Trollinger / VernatschItaly, Germany
Sciascinoso / Olivella NearItaly
Syrah / ShirazFrance, Australia
Shiroka Melnishka Losa / MelnikBulgaria
Sousão / Souzão / SousónPortugal
St. Laurent / SvatovavrineckeFrance, Czech Republic, Austria
Tempranillo / Aragónez / Tinta Roriz / Ull de Llebre / Cencibel / Tinta del PaisSpain
Tinta Negra Mole / Preto MartinhoPortugal
Touriga Franca / Touriga FrancesaPortugal
Touriga Nacional / Azal Espanhol / Preto de MortáguaPortugal
Trincadeira / Castelão / TorneiroPortugal
Uva di Troia / Nero di Troia / Sumarello / Uva di Canosa / Uva di Barletta / Troiano / Tranese / Uva della MarinaItaly
Vaccarese / Vaccarèse/ Brun ArgentéFrance
Valdiguié / Brocol / Napa Gamay / Gamay 15France
Wildbacher / Blauer WildbacherAustria
Zinfandel / Crljenak Kaštelanski / Tribidrag  / PrimitivoCroatia, Italy, USA, Montenegro
Zweigelt / Zweigeltrebe / RotburgerAustria


Aidani / Aidini / AedaniGreece
Albariño / Alvarinho / Cainho brancoSpain
Altesse / RoussetteFrance
Ansonica / InzoliaItaly
Arany sárfehér / IzsákiHungary
Arinto / Assario brancoPortugal
Arrufiac / Arrufiat / RuffiacFrance
Biancame / BianchelloItaly
Bical / Borrado das MoscasPortugal
Burger / MonbadonFrance
Cayetana / Calagraño / Jaén blanca / GarridoSpain
Chasselas / Fendant / Gutedel / Weisser GutedelSwitzerland, Germany
Chenin blanc / Pineau de la Loire / SteenFrance, South Africa, USA, Australia, New Zealand
Coda di Volpe / Guarnaccia BiancaItaly
Courbu / Xuri Zerratua / Bordelesa ZuriFrance
Crouchen / Clare Riesling / Cape RieslingFrance, Australia, South Africa
Fetească albă / Fetiaska / LeànykaRomania
Folle blanche / Gros Plant / PiquepoultFrance
Freisamer / FreiburgerGermany
Furmint / Mosler / SiponHungary, Slovenia, Croatia
Garganega / Grecanico / GrecanioItaly
Garnacha blanca / Grenache blancSpain
Gewürztraminer / Tramini / TraminacFrance
Gros Manseng / Izkiriota HandiFrance
Knipperle / Klein RauschlingFrance
Macabeo / Macabeu / ViuraSpain, France
Maria Gomes / Fernão PiresPortugal
Melon de Bourgogne / MuscadetFrance
Merseguera / Verdil / VerdosillaSpain
Moschofilero / MoscophileroGreece
Müller-Thurgau / RivanerSwitzerland
Muscadelle  / TokayFrance, Australia
Muscat Blanc à Petits Grains / Muscat Frontignan / Muskateller / Moscatel branco / FrontignanGreece
Palomino / Listan / PerrumPortugal
Pampanuto / PampaninoItaly
Pecorino / PecorelloItaly
Pedro Ximénez / PX / AlamísSpain
Petit Manseng / Izkiriota TtipiFrance
Picardin / Picardan / Aragnan BlancFrance
Picpoul / Piquepoul blanc / Piquepoul grisFrance
Pinot Blanc / Pinot Bianco / Klevner / WeissburgunderFrance, Germany
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio / Grauburgunder  / Fromenteau / Pinot Beurot / Ruländer / Malvoisie / Pinot Jaune / SzürkebarátFrance, Italy, Germany, International
Prié Blanc / Blanc de MorgexItaly
Prosecco / GleraItaly
Ribolla Gialla / RobolaGreece
Riesling / Johannisberg Riesling / Rheinriesling / KlingelbergerGermany, South Africa, International
Sauvignon Blanc / Sauvignon GrisFrance, International
Sauvignon Vert / Sauvignonasse / Friulano / Tocai FriulanoItaly
Savagnin / Savagnin Blanc / TraminerFrance
Sereksia / Băbească AlbaMoldavia, Romania
Silvaner / Sylvaner / ÖsterreicherCentral Europe
Torrontés / Torontel / Moscatel de AustriaArgentina
Tourbat / TorbatoFrance
Trebbiano / Ugni BlancItaly
Treixadura / TrajaduraPortugal
Trousseau Gris / Grey RieslingFrance
Verdelho / Gouveio / VerdelloPortugal
Verdiso / VerdiaItaly
Vermentino / Rolle/ Pigato / FavoritaItaly, France, Corsica, Sardinia, Australia
Welschriesling / Riesling Italico / Olaszrizling / Lazki Rizling / GraševinaCentral Europe
Zierfandler / SpätrotAustria

Selecting a wine can be confusing enough without adding the complication of a single varietal having multiple names.  Hopefully this helps remove some of the mystery for you.

Sláinte mhaith

The Wines of Lebanon

Lebanon is among the oldest sites of wine production in the world.  The Phoenicians of the coastal strip were instrumental in spreading wine and viticulture throughout the Mediterranean in ancient times.  For this reason, Lebanon is included as an ‘old world’ wine producer along with the wine nations of Europe.

Despite the many conflicts in the region, Lebanon manages to produce about 8,500,000 bottles of wine each year.  The majority of this wine comes from the Bekaa Valley, which produces some wonderful red wines.

One of the best known labels internationally is Chateau Musar, which is renowned for its bordeaux-like structure. This winery has been creating international attention since the 1970s. For a long time, Musar was a lone success; but since the mid-2000s new winemakers have started to emerge. These new producers are creating a style they feel is more “Lebanese”, with less European influence. Using different grape varieties and techniques they are creating wines with a definitive sense of place.

Chateau Kefraya’s oaked Bordeaux-blended red and Ksara’s dry rosé are great examples of the new producers as well as Massaya, a serious red wine enterprise backed by top quality St-Émilion and Châteauneuf expertise.  Other up and coming ventures include Chateaux Belle-Vue, Khoury, St Thomas and Domaines de Baal, des Tourelles and Wardy.

One member of the new breed of vintner is the head of Domaine des Tourelles, Faouzi Issa. He is a Château Margaux–trained winemaker who believes the future of Lebanese wine lies not with Cabernet, but with the Lebanese Cinsaut grape.  The floral, slightly spicy Cinsaut tastes like Pinot Noir.

Other producers are championing native varietals such as Merwah and Obaideh. Château Ksara launched its first 100 percent Merwah in 2017; a single-vineyard white with notes of citrus and melon. Château Kefraya has gone further, testing a dozen native grapes including Assali el Arous, Inab el Mir and Assouad Karech, as well as aging the wines in amphorae, which is a tall ancient Greek or Roman jar with two handles and a narrow neck, in recognition of the grapes’ Phoenician heritage.

Naji and Jill Boutros returned home from work careers in London to begin producing wine in Bhamdoun, the small mountain village where Naji was raised. Today their winery, Chateau Belle-Vue, supplies its reds to Michelin-starred restaurants in London and Chicago. And it has breathed new life into a community that has been decimated by war.

In Canada we are fortunate enough to have Lebanese wines occasionally available in the Vintages Section of the local liquor stores. I’d suggest they’re worth giving a try.

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