Canada: History

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The Canadian wine industry dates from the early 19th century (although see also vínland). In 1811, a retired German corporal, Johann Schiller, domesticated the Vitis labrusca vines he found growing along the Credit river west of Toronto and planted a 20-acre vineyard. In 1866, the country’s first major winery Vin Villa was established at Canada’s most southerly point, on Pelee Island on Lake Erie, by three gentlemen farmers from Kentucky who planted 20 acres/8 ha of isabella vines. By 1890, there were 41 commercial wineries across the country, 35 in Ontario. In the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia and along the St Lawrence river shoreline in Quebec, it was the Church rather than the regions’ farmers which encouraged the planting of vineyards and fostered the art of winemaking.