World Wine Regions
Learn About the Wine Regions of the World
New and Old World Regions: Wine Grapes, Wine Styles, Terroir, Climate, Appellations
And, test yourselves, Amateur Sommeliers! with our Q&As Wine Knowledge
Canada - Nova Scotia Wine Regions
Nova Scotia has four distinct wine regions and one appellation region.
LaHave River Valley
Bear River Valley
The name of the Appellation is Tidal Bay, located in the Annapolis Valley wine region.
The appellation allows winemakers to produce varietal or blended white wines. The primary varieties allowed are: L'Acadie, Seyval, Vidal, Geisenheim. They must be the majority of
the final blend.
Standards For Tidal Bay Wines
The Nova Scotia region's most planted white grape is L'Acadie Blanc. It is used to make Dry and Medium Dry pale yellow White Wines, including
Sparklings and white blends.
Some Chardonnay is grown here also along with Vidal, Seyval Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Muscat, Cayuga and specific fruit grapes like Blueberry, Pear, Peach, Kiwi,
Cranberry, Apple. Ice Wine is also produced in this region.
Red grapes grown are Marechal Foch, Leon Millot, Baco Noir, Ortega, Castel, De Chaunac; and red wine styles include Light & Fruity, Smooth, and Bold. Red blends and Rose wines
are produced as well.
Some Dessert wines and Icewines are made in Nova Scotia. Grand Pre makes an Icewine from the Vidal grape; and also a dessert wine from the Apple grape.
Ruby Ports and Tawnys are also produced at some wineries.
Popular brands include Gaspereau Vineyards, Benjamin Bridge, L'Acadie Vineyards, Jost, Blomidon, Annapolis Highlands, Grand Pre, Petite Riviere, Planters Ridge.
The climate in Nova Scotia's wine regions is mostly Continental.
Nova Scotia has about two dozen wineries. Most are about two hours from the city of Halifax by car. In 2005, the NSWS was introduced in Nova Scotia. The Nova Scotia Wine Standards
details labelling standards and grape restrictions. The word Nova Scotia can be on a label if the wine grape is 85% from Nova Scotia, with the remaining 15% being
from Canadian grapes. The Tidal Bay appellation was formed in 2012, and states that the grape must be 100% Nova Scotia grown, if Tidal Bay is on the wine label.
Tidal Bay is usually paired with the local seafood; and many wineries make a Tidal Bay wine. Citrus, Floral, Apple, Pear, and Mineral are typical notes found in the Tidal Bay wines.
Wine tours and wine tasting rooms are also available at some wineries in Nova Scotia. Domaine de Grand Pre, (grandprewines.ns.ca) and Luckett Vineyard (luckettvineyards.com) are located near Wolfville, just a couple
hours drive from Halifax. Both these wineries have wine stores, eat in restaurants, and beautiful vineyard grounds to view. Also close to Wolfville,
the Gaspereau Vineyards (gaspereauwine.ca); with an on site restaurant, tasting room, and wine tours including wine tastings.
Canada - Ontario Wine Regions
Lake Erie North Shore
Prince Edward County
Viticulture in these wine regions is governed by the VQA - Vintners Quality Alliance; (vqaontario.ca), a governing body which oversees wine production standards;
Grape varieties and ripeness
Sensory and chemical criteria for the finished wine
The regulations do not cover certain things such as:
Grape yield in the vineyard
Yeast types or fermentation temperatures
and, there are:
No restrictions on grape varieties
No restrictions on wine styles
Source: Standards of VQA Ontario
Participation in the alliance is voluntary.
There are more than 100 Ontario wineries that produce VQA wines from the various appellations. Ontario wineries have a 44% market share of all wine sold in the Province.
Approximately 15,000 acres of wine grape vineyards are planted in the Ontario Wine Regions. In 2017, the Ontario wine crop (grapes made into wine-crushed) was 87,000 tonnes.
Dry white wines are mostly made, and 40 grape varieties are used. 60% white, and 40% red, is the typical wine production in these regions. Hybrid grapes are also permitted, with
Vidal Blanc being the most recognized and is an excellent grape for making Ice Wines; which has become Canada's most important wine export.
All wines produced in these appellation regions must be from 100% Ontario grown grapes. Only Baco Noir and Vidal grapes are allowed to be produced as single varietal wines.
Still wines, Sparkling wines, Sweet wines and Ice wines are all allowed to be made in the VQA. Wines made with VQA standards; are designated with the VQA name on the bottle label.
Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir are some of the more commonly known
grapes grown here.
The climate is mostly continental; with the proximity to the lakes' providing a suitable growing environment for the many grape varieties.
In 2017, bottled wine sales across Canada was 7 billion dollars; equalling 500 million litres of wine (24 bottles per person).
From previous year's wine sales: Canadian wine sales was 3.7%, imported wine sales 0.5%.
In 2017, bottled wine exports, from all Canadian wine regions, totaled 2.1 million litres, valued at $39.6 million dollars.
In 2017, Icewine represented 62% of total export value ($24.7 million).
Ontario is Canada’s largest exporter of Icewine; and British Columbia exports $3.2 million.
Wine production globally is valued at 26.7 billion litres. Of this, Canada represents 0.3 percent (100% Canadian/VQA). For exported wine value, Canada is ranked 35th in world (100% Canadian/VQA).
Globally, the top wine exporters are France, Italy, Spain, Australia, and Chile.
The top import markets for Canada are France, Italy, United States, Australia and Spain, with 2.3
billion dollars imported in 2017. (300 million litres of wine).
Canadian Vintners Industry Statistics
Lake Erie North Shore Wine Region
- This appellation region is surrounded by water, specifically Lake St Clair to the north, Lake Erie to the south, and Detroit River to the west.
Some wine types made are Riesling, Vidal, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Gris, and Merlot. The water affected climate is ideal for growing these wine grapes.
Lake Erie is the shallowest lake and thus provides a longer growing season for viticulture. This slow ripening process allows for wines with good acidity as well as rich varietal character.
Irrigation is not common here, as there is sufficient rainfall during the growing season.
The early influences from the lake in winter bring cold temperatures which makes this region well suited to ice wine production. There are 14 wineries in this region.
Lake Erie North Shore Wineries
Niagara Peninsula Wine Region
- Located on the south shores of Lake Ontario, this region is famous for making Ice Wines(Vidal Grape), Canada's most lucrative wine export. Along with
IceWine; other notable grown grapes include; Riesling and Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Baco Noir, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc, and Gamay.
There are about 100 wineries in this region.
Summers are hot and winters are cold in this region making it ideal for the varieties grown here. The limestone ridge of the Niagara Escarpment, helps to circulate warmer air through the vineyards, keeps
frost from the vineyards, and protects the vineyards from colder weather from the south. The Escarpment is 650 miles, and extends from upper New York state to the Great Lakes
region. The terroir here is largely influenced by the Niagara Escarpment.
The soil in this regions is: glacial soils atop bedrock of iron-rich shale. Clay and sand loams are plentiful in the region.
Small streams and creeks that lead from the escarpment to the lake are important for vineyard drainage.
Other appellations within this region include: Lincoln Lakeshores, Creek Shores, Niagara on the Lake, Vinemount Ridge.
Wine festivals are held each year in this region, with Niagara Wine Festival being the most well known; attracting many wine enthusiasts.
Niagara Peninsula Wineries
Prince Edward County Wine Region
- Located on the north east shores of Lake Ontario, this wine region is 100 miles from the city of Toronto.
Varieties grown here include: Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Gamay, Merlot, Baco Noir, and Pinot Noir. There are 31 wineries and counting in this region. Ontario's newest wine region; Prince
Edward County's vineyard soils are similar to those in Burgundy, and Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, are notable varieties that do very well here.
The summer climate is mostly continental.
Most vineyards here are close to the lakeshore; thus providing cooling breezes in summer and warmth from the lake in colder months reacts with the cold weather to create
snow which shields the vines from cold winters.
Soils are limestone bedrock, with sandy gravel loam top soils. Water drains aptly from the moderate rainfall. .
This region has been making wine since the year 2000.
Like most wine regions;
many wineries here offer wine tours, tasting rooms, and some have an on site restaurant.
Prince Edward Country Wineries
Pelee Island Wine Region
- This region is included in the Lake Erie North Shore appellation region.
It is interesting because of its' history, its' location, and its' excellent wine portfolio.
Located in Lake Erie, Pelee Island is Canada's most southern wine making region, and home to Canada's first Winery in the 1860s. The island is 16 square miles and has only one wine maker,
Pelee Island Winery. The winery has just over 500 acres of vineyards, and about 20 different wine varieties are planted here. The most important grapes are Chardonnay, Vidal,
Cabernet Franc, and Pinot Noir. The land here is mostly flat, and Lake Erie is shallow, creating an ideal growing season as the waters from the lake warm quicker providing
a longer growing season than other areas in this region.
Soil on the island is limestone base with clay soils. Water drains from the vineyard to the dykes just off the island.
Pelee Island Winery makes some very good wines; of note, Gewurz, and its' Monarch White made with the Vidal grape.(not icewine)
Canada - British Columbia Wine Regions
There are five wine appellation regions in British Columbia.
Okanagan Valley(182 wineries), Vancouver Island(32 wineries), Fraser Valley(40 wineries), Similkameen Valley(15 wineries) and the Gulf Islands(12 wineries), and
New sub appellation regions as of 2018 including:
Thompson Valley(4 wineries), Shuswap(10 wineries), Lillooet(1 winery) and the Kootenays(6 wineries).
There are 4000 hectares of grapes grown in British Columbia's wine regions, with 60 different grape varietals. They have about 350 wineries.
Popular grape varieties include Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Gewurz, Riesling, Merlot, Pinot Noir. The top export markets for
British Columbia wine are China, Taiwan, and USA.
Okanagan Valley is the largest wine producer, with over 80% of the total wine produced in British Columbia from this region.
The BC VQA governs wine production standards in these regions. Wines must meet specific quality standards before they are labelled with the VQA designation.
Grapes must be 100% from British Columbia.
If region named on label, 95% of grapes must be from that region.
If vintage named on label, 85% of grapes must be from that vintage.
If varietal named on label, 85% of grapes must be from that varietal.
Additional reading: VQA BC
Ice Wine is also produced in these wine regions and also has strict regulations.
Ice Wine VQA BC
Canada - Quebec Wine Regions
Eastern Townships, Montérégie, Québec, Basses Laurentides, Lanaudière, and Centre-du-Québec.
The Québec Winegrowers Association (QWA) was established October 21, 1987, and includes 71 diverse wineries.
You can find the Association’s wineries in Quebec’s five winemaking regions: the Eastern Townships, Montérégie, Ouest-du-Québec, Cenre-du-Québec, and Est-de-Québec.
Most wineries are found south of Montréal, along the St. Lawrence shore and as far north as Québec City, with some also extending along the American border. Dunham is the popular winemaking area. Wine tours and tastings are available at
many wineries, and scenic drive routes in the Brome Missisquoi wine region allow you to visit many of the 22 wineries in a 1 or 2 day trip.
Brome Missisquoi Wine Region
Over 45 distinct grape varieties cultivated across the wine regions of this province.
The most popular grown being, for whites: Chardonnay, Riesling, De Chaunac, Seyval blanc,
Cayuga, Ortega, Bacchus, Vidal, and the hybrid Geisenheim clone. Red wines include: Chaunac, Maréchal Foch, Gamay, Frontenac, Cabernet Franc, Chancellor, Vidal Noir and Dornfelder.
Because of the colder winter climate, many vines must be covered with earth to protect them from the cold. In Spring, the earth is removed from the base of the vines.
The cool climate in this region is similar to that of Burgundy and Bordeaux of France, as well as Germany and New Zealand's climate.
The Quebec wine regions produce sparkling whites, ice wines, late harvest wines, and fruit wines.
In total, there are over 100 wineries in Quebec region, and more than 3000 acres of vineyards. Most producers
in this region are small.
Domaine des Côtes d’Ardoise is the first and oldest winery in Quebec, located in the Dunham region. In 1980 it planted Maréchal Foch, Seyval blanc and Pinot noir grapes.
Today this estate cultivates 45,000 plants on 11 hectares.
Statistics for Quebec wines:
In 2017, 2,500 tons of grapes were crushed. 2.3 million bottles of wine made. 24.8 million in Canadian wine sales.
White wine 39.8%
Red wine 35.1%
Ice wine 0.7%
Other wines 2.3%
Source: Vinsduquebec Website Vinsduquebec Website
Quality Controls Quebec Wine
United States - Wine Regions
Popular Regions include:
West Coast Region- California, Washington, Oregon
Rocky Mountain Region - Idaho, Colarado
SouthWest Region - New Mexico and Texas
Midwestern region - Missouri and Illinois
Great Lakes Region - New York, Ohio, Michigan
East Coast Region - West New York State, New Jersey, North Carolina, Virginia
As of 2018, United States has 242 (AVA) wine regions. Source: Wiki- American Viticulture Areas
The AVAs are regulated by the TTB department.
AVA - American Viticulture Regions are America's method of defining wine growing regions. The AVA in America is less restrictive than similar laws found in European countries like
France and Spain; as it does not control the amount of wine produced nor winemaking practices. It is more similar to Canada's VQA, where wine region boundaries are specified and
grape varietal percentages are standardized according to wine bottle labelling.
The top wine producing regions are: California, Washington, New York, Pennsylvania, and Oregon.
The United States is the 4th largest wine producing region in the world. 600 million gallons are made annually. Internationally, United States is ranked 9th for wine exports.
Almost all states have some wine production. Because of the diverse climate found across the country's wine regions, all types of grapes are grown.
Like most wine producing regions, the labelling is important in describing the bottle's alcohol content, varietals used, and grape percentages.
In the United States, if label reads:
Region or Named AVA area - 85% of grapes must be from that region,
County - 75% of grapes must be from that county,
State - 75% of grapes must be from that state,
Exception is California where 100% of grapes must be from California, if AVA is named on the label or any geographical area within California,
If Vintage year on label - 85 - 95% of grapes must be from that vintage; depending if AVA named on label,
If Grape variety on label- 75% grapes must be that grape,
If name of Vineyard on label, then 95% of grapes must be from that vineyard.
If label read Estate Bottled - then 100% of grapes must be from that one winery, and that the grapes were crushed, fermented, and bottled on site.
Source: TTB USA Website
State labelled wines are usually the most blended wine types, and not necessarily the lowest quality. Wines labelled
as such may be sourced from several vineyards throughout the state.
United States have more than 1 million acres of vineyards.
Although several species of vine are grown in the United States; the European Vitis vinifera is most commonly used in marketed wine brands.
Some 3000 wineries exist today throughout United States. Warm climate regions are in many of the California growing regions, while Washington and Oregon are cooler climate regions, as
well as New York State in the Northeast. Winemaking is gaining prominence in Texas, and New Mexico.
Napa Valley and Sonoma Valley are the most well known wine regions in California; popular wines produced here like Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot, Cabernet, and Zinfandel.
Some 30 grape varieties are grown in Napa Valley: Napa Valley Grape Varieties
United States - California Wine Regions
North Coast(including Napa,Sonoma AVAs), South Coast, Central Coast(including Santa Cruz, Santa Maria AVAs), Central Valley(including Central Valley, Sierra Foothills AVAs)
California is the largest wine producing region in the United States. 90% of the wine produced in the states is made in California. In 2016, 680,272,512 gallons of wine
was made in California.
Most wine regions in California are found between the Pacific coast and the Central Valley.
Because it is such a diverse region geologically, there is variety and range in its' climate and terroirs. Cool winds from the San Franciso Bay temper the vineyard temperatures, and
rainfall in the region is mostly sufficient year round. Winters are usually mild with no threat to the vineyards, and to eliminate the possibility of frost on the vines
winemakers use wind machines, sprinklers and smudge pots when required. A Mediterranean climate is prominent here, with some areas having a more continental climate. Areas
behind mountains are more warmer in temperature as they don't have the cooling effect from the Bay nor fog which is common here.
Vineyards are grown over an area
of 700 miles, with more than 400,000 acres. Well known AVAs - American Viticulture Areas, include Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley, Russian River Valley, Rutherford, and Central Valley.
The Central Valley extends 300 miles (480 km) from the Sacramento Valley south to the San Joaquin Valley. 75% of all California wine grapes is produced in this one region, and
they also make the most jug and box wines.
Top grapes varieties grown here include: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot noir, Sauvignon blanc, Syrah, Zinfandel
White wine varietals include Pinot gris, Riesling, Chenin blanc, Viognier, French Colombard, Gewürztraminer, Marsanne, Muscat Canelli, Pinot blanc, Roussane, Sémillon, Trousseau Gris.
Many wines produced here are 'fruit forward', compared to European old world wines which often have earthy or mineral styles. This is largely due to the climate being
reliably warm in many of the growing regions. This also allows for more alcohol in wine, with many brands having more than 13%.
For Chardonnay wines, malolactic fermentation and oak aging are common. These methods produce Chardonnay wines that are full bodied and buttery.
Sauvignon Blanc from this region are less herbaceous than those from the Loire Valley in France or New Zealand styles. Most Sauvignon Blanc produced here is more acidic and
some are also oaked giving them a different taste profile. Sauvignon Blanc is also known as Fume Blanc in California.
Overall, California wines are fruitier and jammier than European brands.
Sparkling wines are also very popular here. Made mostly from the same grapes as those in Champagne France: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. Some
winemakers also use Pinot blanc, Chenin blanc and French Colombard to make their sparklings.
Because the climate here is consistent from year to year; vintages years are more common, and several of the Champagne houses from France have settled here to produce their sparklings.
The winemakers include Moët et Chandon's Domaine Chandon, Louis Roederer's Roederer Estate, and Taittinger's Domaine Carneros.
Dessert and Fortified wines are also made in the California wine region, including Late Harvest wines, Sauternes style sweet wines, and Port wines using the grapes
as made in port wines from Portugal- Tinta Cao, Tinta Roriz, and Touriga Nacional.
Spain - Wine Regions
Spain has more than 130 wine regions and it is a diverse country both in terms of its terrain and climate which
contributes to a wine industry that produces a mix of wine styles.
Spain has more vines than any other country, and is also one of the top three wine exporters; the others being France and Italy.
Rivers are a source of much needed water for vineyards and they are nestled amongst the mountains and plateaus.
Spanish 'wine rivers' are the Ebro, Duero, Tajo, Guadiana and the Miño.
The most important Spanish red-wine varieties, in order of vine acreage, are Tempranillo, Bobal, Garnacha and Monastrell. The leading white-wine varieties are Airen, Viura/Macabeo and Palomino and Albarino.
Spain has wine regions which are defined and regulated for various particulars of wine production.
Quality wine regions in Spain are referred to as denominaciones.
Included are denominacione DO, DOP, VC, VP, VT. Wine controls can vary from each denominacione. .
Each region is governed by a consejo regulador, which decides on the boundaries of the region, permitted varietals, maximum yields, limits of alcoholic strength and other quality standards or production limitations that pertain to the region.
DOP is denominacione de origen protegidas (DOP) (similar to the French Appellations). Prior to 2016, DOP was DO and for now DO is still allowed on bottle labels. There are 68 DOP regions.
DO regions follow similar controls as DOP.
DOCA - the highest category of a wine denominaciones; Rioja and Prioriat are the only two regions to have this distinction. Stringent quality controls, and above average grape prices are prominent in this category.
The VP and VC categories were introduced in 2003.
VP – vino de pago ('estate wine'), a term for single-estate wines (pago is a Spanish term for a vineyard estate).
Being an estate wine means that is perceived to be of highest quality. It must be able to exist on its own; not witin an established DOP.
The wine must be made and bottled exclusively on the estate. The VP estate can have its own rules, including what grapes they use, methods of vinification, viticulture, and aging. There are 19 VP
The VC category is for Spanish wines that do not meet the stringent standards required in the DOP(DO) category, but do exceed the standards of the VT category. As of 2019, there are seven VC wine regions.
The VT is a category similar to the Vins de Pays of French wine classification. A Vino de la Tierra is a wine from a particular place, but with few specifications of grape varieties, yields, site, aging. To qualify for this category, at least 85% of the wine has to be from the named production area. There are 42 VTs as of 2019.
Famous Wine Regions
Some famous regions include
RIOJA(Tempranillo Wines), VALENCIA(reds, whites, fortified wine, bulk wine), PENEDES(Cava Sparkling), PRIORIAT(Grenache Wines and Blends), LA MANCHA(reds, rose, Airen), RIBERA DEL DUERO(Tempranillo Blends), NAVARRA(Rose Wines), JEREZ(Sherry). RUEDA(Verdejo).
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World Wine Regions