DRINK: A TOAST TO CANADA

Travel Guide to Canada - - Table Of Contents - BY MAR­GARET SWAINE

Cana­di­ans love a good home­grown drink. Of late, craft brew­eries, ar­ti­sanal dis­til­leries and cideries have blos­somed across the na­tion. Spir­its range from the unique Birm­ing­ham’s Dill Pickle Vodka to the sublime Royal Crown North­ern Har­vest Rye Whisky, se­lected by a Bri­tish critic as the world’s best whisky in 2016. This north­ern coun­try is also home to over 700 li­cenced winer­ies and is the world’s lead­ing pro­ducer of icewine. BRI­TISH COLUMBIA SUNNY WAYS AND SUNNY VINE­YARDS

Sunny Okana­gan is the place many Cana­di­ans think about mov­ing to for their re­tire­ment years. The Cana­dian ver­sion of a Riviera, it has glit­ter­ing lakes as a back­drop to ski hills, golf cour­ses, cy­cling and hik­ing routes, and wine trails. Three 10-day an­nual wine fes­ti­vals take place in win­ter, spring and fall as well as sig­na­ture events through­out the sum­mer (www.thewine­fes­ti­vals.com).

Win­ter sea­son moun­tain­top wine fes­ti­vals at Sun Peaks are days filled with ski­ing, wine crawls, sparkling brunches and pro­gres­sive tast­ings (www.sun­peak­sre­sort. com/wine-fes­ti­val). Oliver Osoyoos Wine Coun­try has some great sig­na­ture events: the Half Corked Marathon in May, an 18 km (11 mi.) run through beau­ti­ful vine­yards; Win­ter in Wine Coun­try in Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, which in­cludes the Fes­ti­val of Trees; and Pig Out in spring (www.oliver osoyoos.com).

Many of the winer­ies have ex­cel­lent restau­rants and some have great ac­com­mo­da­tions. Mis­sion Hill’s Ter­race Restau­rant, open May to Oc­to­ber, of­fers an un­for­get­table al­fresco din­ing ex­pe­ri­ence over­look­ing the vine­yards and set against the spec­tac­u­lar back­drop of Okana­gan Lake. Lo­cally-sourced fare is com­ple­mented with herbs and veg­eta­bles from their own va­ri­etal gar­dens, along with lo­cally for­aged in­gre­di­ents (www.mis­sion­hill­win­ery.com). Quails’ Gate of­fers flights of wines and lo­ca­vore meals in their Old Vines Restau­rant and pa­tio over­look­ing the same lake (www.quails­gate.com). The Sonora Room at Bur­row­ing Owl Es­tate Win­ery (www.bur­rowingowl­wine.ca) and Tin­horn Creek Vine­yard’s Mi­radoro Restau­rant (www.tin­horn.com) have breath­tak­ing views and de­lec­ta­ble food. Hester Creek, one of the old­est winer­ies in the re­gion, has a great restau­rant, Ter­ra­fina, and unique ac­com­mo­da­tions (www.hes­ter­creek.com). Spirit Ridge at Nk’Mip Resort was the first Abo­rig­i­nal owned and op­er­ated win­ery resort in Canada. Here the Osoyoos In­dian Band has cre­ated a wine and cul­tural ex­pe­ri­ence, bar none (www.spir­itridge.hy­att.com).

On Van­cou­ver Is­land, visit wine, mead, cider, and pre­mium spir­its pro­duc­ers. The first com­mer­cial vine­yard was es­tab­lished in the Cowichan Val­ley in 1970 and the Is­land’s first win­ery opened in 1992. To­day, around 175 ha (432 acres) are un­der vine pro­duc­ing grapes for over 40 winer­ies (www.van­cou­veris­land.travel/list­ings/sip­savour). Van­cou­ver Is­land Ex­pe­di­tions of­fers lo­cal food and drink tours such as Foodie Get­away and the Comox Val­ley Craft Brew­ery Tour (www.van­cou­veris­land­ex­pe­di­tions.com).

The BC Dis­tilled fes­ti­val is the largest spir­its event in Canada, ex­clu­sively for lo­cal dis­til­leries (www.bcdis­tilled.ca). For brews there is The BC Ale Trail (www. bcale­trail.ca) with over 100 craft brew­eries.

THE PRAIRIES CRAFTY TIP­PLES

While the Prairies are not known for their wines—the climate just isn’t suit­able—the craft brew­ery busi­ness is boom­ing and spir­its are on the rise.

Win­nipeg Tast­ing Tours takes cus­tomers to the city’s best mi­cro­brew­eries—in­clud­ing PEG Beer Co., Lit­tle Brown Jug, Torque Brew­ing, Brazen Hall Kitchen & Brew­ery, One Great City Brew­ing Co., Trans-Canada Brew­ing and Stone An­gel Brew­ing (www. win­nipeg­tast­ing­tours.ca).

Cap­i­tal K Dis­tillery, Man­i­toba’s first craft dis­tillery, started with Tall Grass Vodka and has since added Tall Grass Gin, Tall

Grass Es­presso Vodka and Tall Grass Dill Pickle Vodka to its lineup (www.cap­i­tal kdis­tillery.com).

Saska­toon in Saskatchewan has two great dis­til­leries. Black Fox Dis­tillery makes truly fab­u­lous gins, vod­kas and liqueurs made largely from lo­cal grains, fruits and botan­i­cals. Their oaked gin won the world’s best cask gin at the 2017 World Gin Awards (www.black­fox­far­mand­dis­tillery.com).

Lucky Bas­tard Dis­tillery makes seven dif­fer­ent styles of whisky from lo­cal in­gre­di­ents along with some un­usual flavoured vod­kas such as Ho­rilka, a Ukrainian honey pep­per vodka, and Birm­ing­ham’s Dill Pickle Vodka (www.luck­y­bas­tard.ca).

Al­berta also has a boom­ing craft beer scene. Cal­gary Brew­ery Tours of­fers sev­eral tours show­cas­ing the lo­cal brew­eries and dis­til­leries. The Rocky Moun­tain Bev­er­age Tour starts at the Half Hitch Brew­ing Com­pany, trav­els to brew­eries in Can­more and in Banff, and ends up back in Cal­gary at Bot­tle­screw Bill’s Pub (www.cal­gar­y­brew­ery tours.beer). Eau Claire Dis­tillery, a farm-to­glass oper­a­tion in Turner Val­ley, pro­duces its spir­its—in­clud­ing the prov­ince’s first sin­gle malt whisky—from lo­cal Al­berta grain (www.eau­claire­dis­tillery.ca).

ON­TARIO

A CEN­TRE OF WINE FES­TI­VALS AND ICEWINE

On­tario is the largest wine grape pro­duc­ing prov­ince in Canada, with 6,800 ha (17,000 acres) of vines. The Ni­a­gara Penin­sula is the largest Cana­dian wine ap­pel­la­tion— with ten ad­di­tional sub-ap­pel­la­tions— en­com­pass­ing more than 100 winer­ies.

The wine route starts less than an hour from down­town Toronto (www.winecoun­try on­tario.ca). In Ni­a­gara-on-the-Lake a Wine­mak­ers’ Se­lec­tions Tast­ing Pass al­lows pur­chasers to en­joy a lo­cal wine at some two dozen winer­ies around town (www. winer­iesof­ni­a­garaon­the­lake.com).

The an­nual Ni­a­gara Grape and Wine Fes­ti­val takes place over three week­ends at winer­ies and other lo­ca­tions through­out Ni­a­gara. The fall har­vest cel­e­bra­tion is packed with live en­ter­tain­ment, culi­nary and wine sem­i­nars, pa­rades and, of course, Ni­a­gara wines at favourite lo­cal restau­rants. The winer­ies get into the groove by of­fer­ing wine and culi­nary pair­ings (www.ni­a­gara wine­fes­ti­val.com).

Icewine, made from frozen-on-the-vine grapes, is an iconic Cana­dian wine of­ten touted as Canada’s great­est liq­uid lux­ury. Ni­a­gara’s Icewine Fes­ti­val of­fers wine lovers, cock­tail fans and food­ies fab­u­lous win­ter experiences. Held over three week­ends in Jan­uary, there are gala din­ners, icewine tast­ing menus, fire­side sam­plings and lots of icewine poured at the out­door street fes­ti­vals in the towns of Ni­a­gara-on-the-Lake and Jor­dan Vil­lage (www.ni­a­garawine­fes­ti­val. com/events).

Prince Ed­ward County, On­tario’s new­est wine ap­pel­la­tion, has been touted as one of Canada’s top tourist des­ti­na­tions. The area’s al­lure in the past had been its gi­ant sand dunes, quaint towns and na­ture trails. Now it has grown into an im­por­tant wine re­gion with some 40 winer­ies; some, such as Huff Es­tate, with ex­cel­lent ac­com­mo­da­tion and din­ing (www.princeed­ward­coun­ty­wine.ca).

A visit to Es­sex Pelee Is­land Coast (EPIC) Wine Coun­try could mean me­an­der­ing along the shore­line to sam­ple the wares of a dozen or so winer­ies, lunch or din­ner at a win­ery and an overnight stay in a unique B&B (www. epicwiner­ies.com). Take a Wine Trail Ride for both ex­er­cise and cool sip­ping (www. wind­sore­ats.com/pack­ages/wine-trail-ride).

QUÉBEC

SU­PER COOL WINES AND CIDERS

Visi­tors can plan their own tours on the web­site choos­ing from five dis­tinct wine grow­ing re­gions: East­ern Town­ships, Mon­térégie, Ouest-du-Québec, Cen­tre-duQuébec and Est-du-Québec (www.vinsdu que­bec.com/en/route-des-vins). Lo­cated 40 min­utes east of Mon­tréal, The BromeMis­sisquoi Wine Route links winer­ies along a 140-km (87-mi.) sign­posted route in the beau­ti­ful East­ern Town­ships (www. larout­edesvins.ca). On this route, you will find the prov­ince’s first win­ery, Domaine des Côtes d’Ar­doise, opened in 1981 in Dun­ham, which is re­mark­able not only for its wines but for its ex­hi­bi­tion of sculp­tures gath­ered from more than 80 artists (www. cotes­dar­d­oise.com).

The Ma­gog-Or­ford Wine Fes­ti­val, held an­nu­ally on the first two week­ends of Septem­ber, of­fers an op­por­tu­nity to sam­ple Québec re­gional food and wine prod­ucts in a pic­turesque set­ting (www.fet­edesven­dan­ges. com/en).

With an an­nual pro­duc­tion of over 60 ciders, Mon­térégie is the pi­o­neer of cider pro­duc­tion in Québec (www.mon­escapade.ca/en/cider-route). Ice cider (made from frozen-on-the-tree ap­ples) was first made in the East­ern Town­ships by a French wine­maker, Chris­tian Barthomeuf, at his win­ery/ cider house, Clos Sarag­nat, in Fre­lighs­burg (www.sarag­nat.com). Domaine Pin­na­cle, fa­mous for its flat, sparkling and ice ciders, ex­ports to more than 50 coun­tries (www.cidredo­mainepin­na­cle.com/en ).

Top mi­cro­brew­eries in Mon­tréal in­clude Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, Har­ri­cana by Mar­i­ouche, HELM, Boswell, Le Saint-Bock, Benelux, Broue Pub Brouhaha, Brasseur de Mon­tréal and Pit Cari­bou, many which also serve gas­tro pub food. Eater Mon­tréal pub­lishes a map to the twenty-five es­sen­tial Mon­tréal mi­cro­brew­eries and craft beer bars (www.mon­treal.eater.com/maps/best­mon­treal-brew­pubs-beer-bars).

On Île d’Or­léans, Cas­sis Monna & Filles cul­ti­vates 16 ha (39.5 acres) of black­cur­rants to pro­duce over 40,000 bot­tles per year of cas­sis liqueurs (www.cas­sis­monna.com/en).

THE MAR­ITIMES LO­CAL FLAIR COM­ING ON STREAM

Nova Sco­tia is Canada’s fourth largest wine pro­duc­ing prov­ince. Its wine trail has about a dozen winer­ies mak­ing qual­ity wines from 100 per­cent lo­cally grown Nova Sco­tia grapes and fruit (www.wine­sofno­vas­co­tia.ca). Grape Es­capes of­fers a num­ber of tours, some which in­clude lunch or din­ner at a win­ery (www. no­vas­co­ti­aw­ine­tours.com). Domaine de Grand Pré, the old­est farm win­ery in Atlantic Canada, has an award-win­ning restau­rant, Le Caveau, which fo­cuses on re­gional Nova Sco­tia prod­uct pre­pared with a global flair (www.grand­prewines.ns.ca). Ben­jamin Bridge makes cham­pagne-method sparkling wines rec­og­nized as among the top in the world (www.ben­jam­in­bridge.com). The Good Cheer Trail of­fers an ex­cit­ing mix of tours, tast­ings and spe­cial events at winer­ies, cideries, mi­cro­brew­eries and dis­til­leries (www.good­cheer­trail.com). The Hal­i­fax Beer Bus takes peo­ple around Hal­i­fax to taste and learn all about Hal­i­fax’s ex­plod­ing craft beer scene (www.hal­i­fax­food­tours.com). The new state-of-the-art Au­then­tic Sea­coast Dis­till­ing Com­pany opened its doors as the home to award-win­ning spir­its and craft beer brands, in­clud­ing the new GLYNNEVAN whisky (www. au­then­tic­sea­coast.com). The Hal­i­fax Dis­till­ing Com­pany is the first of its kind on the Hal­i­fax wa­ter­front (www.hal­i­faxdis­till­ingco.ca).

New Brunswick has around a dozen winer­ies to visit (www.tourism­new­brunswick.ca/Prod­ucts/Groups/Winer­ies). At Motts Land­ing Vine­yard & Win­ery in the beau­ti­ful St. John River Val­ley, wines are made from es­tate grown grapes such as the un­usual Louise Swen­son grape (www.motts­land­ingvine­yard.com ). At Mag­netic Hill Win­ery and B&B, in a re­stored 1867 his­toric site over­look­ing Monc­ton, visi­tors can pic­nic on the grounds while en­joy­ing a sip of es­tate-grown fruit wines such as blue­berry, cran­berry and straw­berry, as well as those from lo­cal New Brunswick grapes—all vinted on the premises (www.mag­netichill­win­ery.com ). In 2012, Dis­til­lerie Fils du Roy opened in Petit-Pa­que­tville mak­ing ab­sinthe and a gin that uses a lo­cal tree, the Thuja oc­ci­den­talis evergreen, in its botan­i­cal recipe (www.dis­til­leriefils­duroy.com ).

In P.E.I., the Ros­sig­nol Es­tate Win­ery of­fers a re­mark­able va­ri­ety of ta­ble wines, fruit wines and liqueurs. Fam­ily-owned Matos Win­ery & Dis­tillery of­fers tours and tast­ings just min­utes from Char­lot­te­town, and the Beamish Fam­ily Or­ganic Or­chard has ex­panded to pro­duce craft spir­its and liqueurs re­flect­ing an au­then­tic Is­land taste ex­pe­ri­ence at Deep Roots Dis­tillery. Is­lan­ders have made il­le­gal moonshine through­out their his­tory, and Myr­iad View Ar­ti­san Dis­tillery brings this Is­land tra­di­tion for­ward for all to en­joy with their “Strait Shine” (www.tourism­pei.com/winer­ies-dis­til­leries).

In New­found­land, Ro­drigues Win­ery, Auk Is­land Win­ery, Quidi Vidi Brew­ery, Port Rex­ton Brew­ing Co., Yel­lowBelly Brew­ery and Western New­found­land Brew­ing Co. have all come on stream.

THE NORTH

SPIR­ITS AND BREWS

In 2016 Yukon Brew­ing Com­pany re­leased Two Brew­ers Yukon Sin­gle Malt Whisky through its sis­ter com­pany, Yukon Spir­its—one of only two sin­gle malt whiskies made in Canada at the time. Yukon Brew­ing of­fers in­ter­na­tional award-win­ning craft beers and brew­ery/tast­ing tours (www.yukon­beer.com). The NWT Brew­ing Com­pany opened in the fall of 2015 (www. nwt­brew­ingco.com).

With all these new craft dis­til­leries, brew­eries, cideries and over 700 li­cenced winer­ies, a good lo­cal drink is al­ways near at hand in Canada.

CTC/OFF THE EATEN TRACK

RAILTOWN UR­BAN EATS TOUR, VAN­COU­VER, BC •

• SHUT­TER­STOCK/TETYANA DOTSENKO

AN­NAPO­LIS VAL­LEY, NS

LAKE LOUISE, BANFF NA­TIONAL PARK • DES­TI­NA­TION CANADA

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