Canadian efforts bearing fruit

17th May, 2017 by Rupert Millar

Still a bit player in the UK market, sustained and patient effort from Canadian wine producers is beginning to bear fruit.

Beginning in 2010, the now annual tasting of Canadian wines at Canada House in London has gone from strength to strength and is symptomatic of the growing interest in Canadian wine in the UK and the interest Canadian producers themselves are taking towards export as both they and the industry grows in confidence and quality.

“In 2010 it was Chardonnay only and since then we’ve broadened the message and have been building on that every year. The tasting just gets better and better,” Magdalena Kaiser, director of public relations for the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario, told the drinks business.

The tasting is not the only element to Canada’s growing recognition either, as trade commissioner Emma Finn continued: “We’ve taken sommeliers and the trade out to Canada. It’s not just the tasting, there’s been work in-between. You can see the difference from 2010, the number of producers that now have distribution has risen.”

And as more producers gain listings so more wineries have been signing up to present their wines in London. The number of Canadian wineries with representation in the UK remains tiny but patience will out.

As Janet Dorozynski, trade commissioner for Canadian Wine, Beer and Spirits, told db: “We’ve been doing this for some time and we know you can’t just come once. It requires sustained effort and it’s bearing fruit.”

The trend towards cool climate expressions of varieties such as Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling and other varieties certainly works in Canada’s favour and in 2020 the country will host the Cool Climate Symposium which will be an excellent platform or the country’s wines.

The great hurdle for Canada to overcome is price. Like in many cool climate growing regions, quality wines are more expensive to produce and are made in very small quantities. They are not, for the most part, wines for a mass market but, as Dorozynski continued, that was not the sector Canada was aiming for but rather was focused on the on the on-trade and speciality wine shops.

“The wines are expensive to produce and we’re not a huge producer – we’re making as much as New Zealand was in the 1980s.

“We’re not pitching to sell wines in supermarkets, in volume but we’re hearing there is a place for higher quality Canadian wines at these price points,” she said.

What was interesting and happening increasingly, she went on, was that, “wineries want to commit to the UK and the tasting and are now allocating wines for this market.”

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