Industry Watch: Through the Grapevine

Black Hills Estate Winery’s president and CEO, Glenn Fawcett, shares how Canada’s wine industry is transforming

What is the current state of the Canadian wine industry?
Fantastic! Consumption of wine by Canadians has grown significantly, and their support of Canadian wineries is at a level that no one could have imagined 10 years ago.

How has Canada’s wine scene evolved over the years?
On the production side, the quality of the grapes grown on our vineyard has gone through a dramatic transformation over the last decade. Better grapes mean better wine, which in turn draws more consumers and critical praise. It is a big and pleasant surprise to see how much respect Canadians are now giving to the wines produced in our country.

Is there a specific varietal that’s representative of Canadian wine?
Everyone’s opinion on this is different. My thinking is that the terroir is so diverse in British Columbia and Ontario that there is no one single grape varietal that can be said to completely represent each region. In the South Okanagan, syrah is amazing. In Okanagan Falls, it is pinot noir. In Summerland, it is gewürztraminer. In Niagara, it is riesling. This list goes on and on. So I think it would be criminal to pigeon-hole all of Canada into thinking we have to be defined by one grape varietal.

What impact or reach have you noticed Canadian wine having on a national Scale versus a global one?
Canadian wine is still a regional and national story. Other than ice-wine, I do not feel our table wines have really made any impact on the international wine scene. However, within the country the reach has completely changed, to the betterment of our industry.

What are some of the advantages of The country’s wine scene?
We are not bound by tradition that limits our creative frontier on what grapes we grow and what wine we make. The Canadian wine scene is a haven for entrepreneurs, which makes it extremely exciting to be in right now.

What changes are in store in the next 5–10 years?
Our industry is young, and most of the vines are between 10 and 20 years old. Vines don’t normally hit their peak until the 30th–50th year. So I think amazing things are in store for our industry in Canada, and serious international recognition will follow.

If you could change one thing about the wine industry in Canada, what would it be?
Our archaic extra-provincial shipping restrictions.