The majority of Canada's winemaking is associated with British Columbia, and justly so. The wines of British Columbia have become world-class competitors in the last 20 years. However, wine is made in all of Canada's provinces, often under much more difficult conditions, and many of these small family businesses are beginning to produce award winning vintages.

Canada extends 7,800 km (4, 875 mi) from the Pacific to the Atlantic Ocean, from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island off the west coast of British Columbia.

However, despite the country's reputation for northern latitudes and cold winters, some parts actually lie further south than the famous Burgundy region in France. Ontario, for example lies between the 41st and 52nd latitudes, putting it at the parallel as Bordeaux, France and California's Napa Valley.

Enormous land mass, oceans and numerous fresh water lakes and tall mountains give Canada a wide variety of micro-climates that the growers take good advantage of in producing wine grapes. Most often grown are some variety of vinifera, long thought to not thrive so far north. Old traditions combined with modern science allow them to do well even in Quebec.

A temperate climate provides up to 190 frost free growing days per year for one of the newest wineries, the Bosc family's Chateau des Charmes, which was founded in 1978 and is located in the Niagara Peninsula.

Perfectly located on the south of Lake Ontario at 44 degrees latitude, this enormous Chateau is headquarters to vineyards that produce an excellent Chardonnay, barrel fermented and aged in French oak barrels. This results in a full-bodied buttery wine with flavors of tropical fruit and melon that pairs well with poultry or pasta.

The Cabernet Sauvignon is another favorite with a deep ruby color and the bouquet of cassis and bell pepper. It is full-bodied and provides an excellent match for prime rib, and can age for 5-10 years.

Niagra is also home to Coyote's Run which opened its doors in May, 2004. The harvest in this area occurs 1-2 weeks earlier than most other area vineyards because of the heavy limestone clay, the warm breezes off the water, and the 3C (5.4F) higher average temperature.

The dark brown clay common to the area produces a grape distinctly different from that of the more fruity and perfumed from red clay. This small entrepreneur is certain to grow in the coming years.

Montreal is also home to some of Quebec's wineries, located on the western section of the glacial plain. A medium-body red is produced from a blend of Caberne Severnyi, Frontenac and Landot in this area. It is filled with ripe black fruit flavors with hints of oak, licorice, and vanilla. It is aged in American oak.

Tiny Prince Edward Island also gets into the act, where harsh climate requires that some varieties be grown in greenhouses. Seyval Blanc, Marechal, Ortega and others produce a nicely acid balanced Rossignol wine.

Nova Scotia hosts 22 grape growers where French hybrids Marechal Foch, Baco Noir, and DeChaunac are grown, however ice-wine remains the specialty.

There are many others such as Alberta where sunshine ranges from 1,900 hours in the north to 2, 300 hours in the south, where the Rockies produce warm, dry Chinook winds. One Chinook raised the temperature from -19C (-2.2F) to 3.3C (38F) in a single hour.

Saskatchewan in the heart of North America, bordered on the south by Montana and North Dakota.

Manitoba, which was once a flood plain, but now sees cold winters and sunny summers averaging 25C (77F).

All of these and many more give evidence of Canada's unquenchable desire to grow the winemaking business into one which will take its place on the world stage.

Swirl the wine gently, sniff and taste.

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