Look at the U.S. and Canada wine map. You’ll notice a lot of red and white wines are imported from countries like France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and Chile. But there’s one wine made in Canada, and it’s available in the U.S.: BC VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wines.

When you live in the same country as the country you want to drink wine from, it’s not difficult to get your hands on Canadian wine. But when you live in the United States, it’s not surprising that you don’t have access to the country’s finest wine. A quick search on most online wine stores and the Internet will reveal that the vast majority of Canadian wine available in the United States is sold by Canadian importers.

You want to buy a bottle of wine in the supermarket in the U.S., but there’s no available inventory. The refrigerated shelves are empty. You can’t find a reason for the shortage. You can’t find a distributor to blame. However, one possible explanation is that it’s nearly impossible to get Canadian wine in the U.S.. Read more about best red wine in canada 2020 and let us know what you think.

Ryan Totman was confident that the orange wine, made from La Crescent grapes, would catch the attention of connoisseurs on Corkbuzz in New York. But two years later he had a few bottles of Pinard & Filles Frangine, a natural wine from Canada.

It offers research, but we know people wouldn’t jump on it on their own, says Totman, Corkbuzz’s beverage director. He’s right there.

When wine lovers talk about the rarest and most unusual bottles they’ve ever tasted, Slovenia’s Pinela or Croatia’s Xinisteri come to mind. But few people think of Canadian wines. With the exception of Inniskillin Icewine, the dessert wine that put the Canadian wine industry on the map in the 1990s, Canadian wines are virtually unknown to most American winemakers.

This means that we will become internationally known. -Jennifer Huether, Canadian winemaker.

Wine producers, importers, sellers and sommeliers cite 99 reasons why it’s hard to find Canadian wine in the United States, but quality is not one of them. With most producers concentrating on single-variety wines, such as pinot noir, cabernet franc, chardonnay and riesling, the wines are so good, says Canadian master sommelier Jennifer Huether. It goes beyond craft production and ice wine.

Okanagan Falls, British Columbia. Photo courtesy of British Columbia Winery

She and John Szabo, another Canadian Master Sommelier, were overjoyed when the Court of Master Sommeliers asked them to teach classes on that country’s wines to advanced candidates in the spring of 2020.

This means we are becoming known internationally, Huether says.


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That joy turned to disappointment when they started looking for distributors to bring the wines to Texas. They had problems importing nine wines for their studio, and it took several months to get the necessary permits. The shortage of Canadian wines in the United States is the result of supply and demand.

Even Canada’s main wine-producing provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, produce relatively small amounts of wine.

In Ontario, Canada’s largest wine growing region, some 17,000 acres are planted with cool-climate varieties. Magdalena Kaiser of the Ontario Wine Marketing Association says the region only exports five per cent of its production.

In British Columbia, the Okanagan, known for its powerful red wines, has 11,000 acres of vineyards. Only three per cent of production is exported, says Laura Kittmer of Wine Growers British Columbia. Of these exports, 18% are destined for the United States.

By comparison, vineyards in Napa Valley cover 44,000 acres, in Sonoma County 62,000 acres and in Lodi 103,000 acres.

Most Canadian wines are sold in the region where they are produced, says Randy Dufour, vice-president of exports for Arterra Wines Canada.

Nk’Mip Cellars, Osoyoos, BC / Photo: Jon Adrian

Even in Ontario, hot water bottles from Nk’ Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal wine brand in North America, or from Le Clos Jordanne, which produces about 2,500 cases of pinot noir and chardonnay from Burgundy each year, are hard to find.

Canada has high production costs that are passed on to the consumer. This means that Canadian wines must compete with higher quality varieties from better known regions such as New Zealand.

The U.S. is just a very competitive market, and the California wine industry is not standing still, says Paul Speck, who owns Henry of Pelham in St. Louis. He was born in St. Catharines, Ontario, with his brothers.

Speck says his family produces about 175,000 cases of wine a year and exports much of it to Britain, Denmark and Belgium. They only ship 4,000 cases a year to America. Nevertheless, the US market is important.

You have to get the big wine-consuming countries to recognize the quality of your wine, even if you don’t sell many, Speck says.

Dufour agrees that America is the right place to build brand equity, despite unfavorable exchange rates. Canadian brands spend 20% more to market their wines in the United States.

Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, even these comedians, until they have success in the United States, we don’t appreciate them, Dufour said. If you can succeed in New York, you can succeed anywhere. It is this international success that makes it even more attractive in Canada.

The barrel room ofin British Columbia’s Central Okanagan Valley / Photo courtesy of Wines of British Columbia.

It can be difficult for small wine producers to attract importers and distributors from the US. Dave Esber, an Ohio wine and beer importer, says 13th Street Winery’s Blanc de Blanc, Megalomaniac’s red blends and Donald Ziraldo’s ice wine, the godfather of the Ontario wine industry, have been good for his wallet.

The wines are of high quality and the growing conditions are excellent, says Esber. Ignorance has become the problem.

Ziraldo, who created the famous Inniskillin ice wine with Carl Kaiser, says that when he was invited to serve wine at James Beard’s 150th anniversary party in New York, he had to smuggle the wine into the United States. So he was pleased when Esber approached him.

He says Canadian ice wine has created an opportunity for wineries across the country. Psychologically, Americans understand that, Ziraldo said. Ice cream comes from Canada, as does hockey and Wayne Gretzky.

Inniskillin gained international recognition when it won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the Vinexpo in France in 1991, but it began to turn a profit when it was sold in the duty-free stores of the DFS group, part of LVMH. Japanese travelers started asking for Icewine, so the stores ordered it. Canadian wine producers must now apply.

Yet Canadian wines are popping up in unexpected places, such as at Heinen’s, a family-owned business with 23 stores in Ohio and Illinois. Ed Tompkins, president of the wine and beer events company, says customers regularly visit the Niagara wineries, a three-hour drive from Cleveland. He is excited about the exclusive pink blend of Pinot Noir, Gamay, Riesling and Pinot Gris that Henry of Pelham created for Mother’s Day.

The wine is excellent, Tompkins said. That’s an incredible value considering the exchange rate. The replacement was about 30%. It’s like buying California wine at wholesale prices.Most Americans are aware of the infamous Canadian wine boycott (or at least the rumor of it). The boycott, which is said to have originated in the early 1990s, targets American wine for allegedly using inferior grapes and additives, thus compromising the quality of wine exported from the USA to Canada. However, many are unaware of other reasons why Americans may not have access to Canadian wines, which are much more subtle and difficult to trace. Firstly, there’s the obvious fact that Canadian wineries don’t ship their products to the U.S. Secondly, the U.S. produces a high volume of wine, and since it’s illegal to ship it cross-border, laws must be put in place to protect American wineries. As a result. Read more about most popular wine in canada and let us know what you think.

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