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The Wineries and Wines Behind Winemaking in Canada
Early Wine Press
Black Hamburg Muscatel grapes grown in Nova Scotia in the mid 1800's
Canadian Vine Growers Association established 1860 by Henry Parker and Justin D Coutenay sold wines from the Clair House
Assets sold to Fred Marsh Winery Limited 1929
Artist rendition of Clair House
- Clair House name
of the wines sold by Count Justin M. de Courtenay around 1864.
It became the largest brand in Ontario . Credit with been the first commercial vineyard and winery in Canada. Wine was sold under the label of “Chateau
Clair Wines”. The vineyard grew to encompass more than 88 acres of land, and Chateau
Clair Wines won first prize in the 1867 Paris Exposition and the 1876 Philadelphia
Centennial. Vines from Chateau Clair are also historically attributed to saving the wine
industry in France. In the 1860s, French grapes were attacked by blight, to which controls
proved ineffective. Count de Courtenay is accredited with sending grape vines from
Chateau Clair, which proved to be resistant to the disease, to France to revitalize French
vineyards. Many of the world-famous French vineyards today owe their establishment to
vines grown in Cooksville by Johann Schiller*
Ontario Grape Growing and Wine Manufacturing 1873 in Barnesdale ( now called St Catherines)associated with George Barnes . It became the Barnes Wine Ltd 1934.
in 1873 sold to Grimsby Wines in 1932 The brand names lasted until
the1980's It was known as Canada's oldest continuous winery. Barnes bought the licence's of Fort William Wine Co and Sunnybank Winery . Grimsby sold to Parksdale Wines Limite 1966
||Niagara Falls Wine Co founded in 1874 by Frederick Shirriff and Thomas Brigh in Toronto moved Niagara Falls and became T.G. Bright and Company Ltd. in 1911
Photo provided by Kevin Nault / Curator / Jasper Cultural Centre and
Maple Creek SK
Niagra Falls Wine Company - 1874-1911 photo provided by Steve Mouck
T G Bright Wines
in 1874 by Frederick Shirriff and Thomas Brigh under the name Niagra Falls Wine Co.
1911 they moved fromToront Niagra Falls and incorporated as T.G. Bright and Co ltd. . The winery was
successful and grew steadily until 1920.
when they were producing 4,000,000 gallons of
wine, making them one of the larger wineries in the world. Like all
wineries they were hurt by prohibition
. In 1993 they joined with Cartier
Wines and Inniskillin to form Vincor Wines. The label is still
used on some products today but will most likely will soon be gone.
Please see Bright Wines
on Pelee Island, Ontario that opened 1871 and sold the majority
of their wines into USA
(Click for larger image)
Photo provided by Terry Matz
Girardot Winery 1879 - photo provided by Barrett Nicpan
- Robinet, Pierre and Girardot, Ernest open 1879 purchased by Fred C Marsh Wine Company 1935
- Cooksville Wine Vaults founded 1880 by Frank Thomas Assets bought by London Winery 1946
- E.G Brown - began operations in Fonthill 1884 Assets sold to Hillrust Wine Co 1906
- Acme Wine Co Ltd - licensed in 1898 sold unfermented wines. Taken over by Parkdale Wines 1954
- G.W. Peavoy licensed in 1898 to G.W Peavoy but operated as Canadian Wine Co. assets purchased by Acme wines. In turn taken over by Parkdale wines.
Pelee Island Wine and Vineyard Co
founded by J.S. Hamilton who expanded his vineyards to Essex County.
The winery built on the island had three stories built from local
stone; using gravity to move juice from the top floor press
to the 1,000 gallon tank on the first floor. Around 1897
Mr. Hamilton moved his winery off the island to Brantford. In
1949 he sold his assets to the London
Canadian Grape Producers - ©2012 Steve Mouck
- Canadian Grape Products Limited. Licensed in 1920 Established a plant in Jordan Ontario. It would take over Danforth Wines in 1948.
The Jordan Wine Co Ltd was formed in 1926 to take over Canadian Grape Producers Ltd.
- Sunnybank Winery licensed in 1920 to F.L. Furminger Assets sold to Barnes Wine Ltd in 1939.
- Fort WIlliam Wine Co Ltd licensed in 1933 sold in 1936 to Barnes Wine Ltd.
- National Fruit& Wine Co founded 1922 purchasing the Hillrust Wine co Ltd. In 1929 after some hard tomes The National Wine Co Ltd took over its assets bringing it under Canadian Wineries ltd . In 1948 purchased by
- Badaloto Wine Co opened in London 1922 purchased by T.G.Brights 1938
Growers Wine Company 1927
- Growers Wine Company founded
on Vancouver Island in 1922 making wine from Loganberries.The
five founders of the winery were William Bickford, Philip Holloway,
Neil Lamont, Clarence Oldfield and Harry Tanner and their first
two brands were Logana, made entirely with loganberries, and Vin
Supreme, a blend of loganberries and blueberries. Growers
obtained a distillery licence in 1936 . The man responsible for
running Growers until they sold in 1955 was Herbert
A syndicate of
Vancouver businessmen that included Coleman Hall (better known later for
his investments in the Vancouver Canucks professional hockey team) and a
retired banker, Francis Lumb. Late in 1959 Vancouver stationer Ernest C.
Warner took over. Imperial Tobacco bought Growers' in 1965, changing the
name to Ste-Michelle after a popular wine brand controlled by Castle
Wines Ltd., a Growers' subsidiary in Saskatchewan. When the cigarette
company's brief diversification into wines ended, Jordan Wines Ltd. of
Ontario bought Growers' in 1973, merging it with Villa Wines, Jordan's
subsidiary in New Westminister (originally called West Coast Wines Ltd.
when incorporated in 1960). In 1976 Jordan & Ste-Michelle Cellars
Ltd. was adopted as the winery's national name. The Victoria winery was
closed in 1977, replaced by a new $7 million winery in Surrey, with a
storage capacity for four million gallons and room to be tripled.
However, after the market for domestic wineries stalled in the 1980s,
Jordan & Ste-Michelle was acquired by T.G. Bright & Co. who
closed and dismantled the Surrey winery in 1990. The Growers' name
survives as a popular brand of cider. In 1962 Growers' took over the
production and marketing of apple cider that had been developed by
scientist Dr. John Bowen for Sun-Rype in Kelowna.
- Jordan Wines established in1920 one of
a few wineries that survived prohibition. They took over Canadian Grape
Producers Ltd in 1926. In 1973 they bought out Growers Winery in Victoria
and renamed the national company Jordan & Ste-Michelle. In 1986 Bright
bought out Jordan and Ste Michelle.
- The Ontario Wine co was licensed in 1922 to E.J Morrow . He had the licence for 5 years It was cancelled then renewed in 1927
( a period of time when the Ontario gov would not issue new licenses so company bought up old ones) The co assets sold to from Lakeshore Wines Co Ltd 1930. In 1933 Danford wines takes over
- Antonio De Conza Winery licensed issued 1922 in St Catharine's 1931 Regal wine co took over to be purchased by Danforth wine co in 1936 in turn sold to Jordan WInes.
- London Wine Company founded
1924 by the Knowles family by 1977 it was the only winery still
operating is southwestern Ontario. It was sold to Vincor Canada
in December 1996. Vincor has retained some brands under
the London label
- Beaverdam Cataract Winery Ltd licensed 1925 in Niagara Falls. In 1937 Assets bought by Danforth Wines.
Danforth wine assets sold to Jordan Wines 1964
- Canada Wine Products It was formed in 1928 Taking over Peerless Wine Co, Dominion Wine Growers and Oakville Lincoln Wines Ltd Stanford Park Wine Co Ltd. Thorold Winery.
In those days the Gov was not allowing new licenses so new companies bought licenses from others.
The key factor here is that Canadian Wineries Limited changed their name to Chateau – Gal Wines Limited in 1940 In 1973 they purchased the assets of Chateau Cartier
- Lincoln Wines Ltd licensed 1928 taken over by Canada Wineries Ltd 1928.
- Danforth Wine Co Franco Cerra of Fort Williams Ontario received license in 1926. the wines were for a time made at the Lakeshore Wine Co in Toronto
In 1935 purchased the Beaverdam Calaract Winery Ltd. 1937 name changed to Danforth Wine Ltd. In 1948 Danforth became the wholly owned subsidiary of Canadian Grape Producers Ltd.
who became Jordan Wines.
- Grimsby Wine Limited originally licensed in 1928 as the Grimsby Grape and Wine Company. Grimsby was taken over by Parkdale Wines Ltd in 1966
- Hamilton- Niagara Wines opened 1928 sold to Turner Wine Co 937
- Old Fort Wine Co LTD. chartered in 1928 in Fort Erie originally known as the Beamsville Winery
- The Old Battlefield Winery Licensed issued to Albin Samborski 1928 Named for the battle that took place at Stoney Creek during the War of 1812.
Changed name to Dundurn Winery 1947 assets bought by T.J Bright 1954.
- Robinet Freres licensed to Clovis and Frank Robinet 1928 assets purchased by T.G. Brights in 1935.
- St Catharines Wine Company of Canada Ltd. 1928 Sold to Jordan wines 1953
- Parksdale Winery was in operation by 1930 in Toronto. They bought Grimsby Wines in 1932.
In turn they were sold to Labatt Brewery
Parkdale Wines and it was located in Etobicoke, I started out as a winemaker for them. And we had a 250 acre farm up in Grimsby up on old Number 8 highway called the Parkdale fruit farm. And that farm grew grapes, and what we did at the time with that farm, its primary use was to show growers that they could grow certain grape varieties in the peninsula, because at one time the grape varieties that were grown in the peninsula were labrusca grapes, labrusca being a variety of grape that has originated in North America and the finer wines or table wines were being made out of the variety of grape that grows in Europe. So we used to import some of these grape vines to prove to grape growers in this area that we could certainly grow vinifera grape varieties, and that's where I was familiar with different grape varieties, and the vineyards and the growing of grapes in the Grimsby area.
~ John Hall of Kittling Ridge Explains The Grimsby Wines Farm and Parkdale Wines as recorded on the Grimsby Museum website
- Victoria Wineries was founded in 1927
also to produce Loganberry wines. In 1932 they merged with Growers
Wines lasting until 1960 when disease wiped out the berries. However
the public was by now more interested in grape wine. The main label
brand was called Slinger after its winemaker ex-jockey Stephen Slinger
- Calona Winery established in British
Columbia 1931. It produced apple wine at first switching to grape wines
from J.W. Hughes. Calona Winery stayed afloat by producing sacramental
wine for the Roman Catholic Church. For many years it was run by the
Cappozzi family. In 1977 it released Schloss Laderheim made from Okanagan
Riesling. It became the best selling domestic wine. Today Calona is
owned by Andrew Peller Limited
- Murtina Winery the McKinney family ran the Murtina winery, the larger of two loganberry wineries in Richmond BC
- Chipman's Apple Products first commercial winery in Nova Scotia,1941, producing fruit wines. The name was changed to
Chipman Wines Limited.
Andre's wine bought Chipman's in 1983 and promptly closed the plant.
- Jordan-Danforth Wines the name came about in 1948 when the
Jordan winery opened a second location in St. Catharines.
The Danforth wine label was made in St. Catharines, the Jordan line in Jordan. At its peak, the St. Catharines winery employed about 100 people and dozens more during harvest time. Hundreds of Niagara growers sold grapes to the plant. It remained a big player until 1986, when it was bought by competitor Niagara Falls T. G. Bright and Co. Ltd., which is also defunct today. By 1987, the St. Catharines winery was closed
- Abby Wines Limited established in
Truro NS in 1965 owned by Andre's The grapes were brought in from outside
developed by Andres
Wines in 1968
one of the larger
wineries in Ontario during 1960's and 70's It originated in the 1940.
Just after prohibition a group of investors formed a company called
Canadian Wineries Limited. They bought six existing licenses, Peerless
Wines Manufacturing, The National Wine Company, Dominion Wine Growers,
Lincoln Wines, Thornwood Wine Company and the Stamford Wine Company.
In 1939 they registered the trademark Château and in 1940 changed
the company name to Château-Gai.
Alexander Sampson was the man behind Château-Gai. While in
France after the war he put the company's champagne on display in
a Paris shop window and had photographers take pictures. The pictures
were printed in all Canadian newspapers greatly raising the notoriety
of the winery.
Château-Gai was sued by fifteen French champagne houses for using
the word Champagne
stating that only grapes grown in the district of
Champagne, France could use the term. In 1933 Canada had signed an Agreement
with France to protect the appellations of origin. It was most
likely the advertising in the Paris window that caused the lawsuit.
The matter was not settled until 2003, today only wine produced
in Champagne, France is actually named Champagne.
In 1964 Labatt's
Brewery purchased control of the the winery.
- Jordan & St- Michelle at one time was the second largest winery in
- LeComte winery began on Hawthorne Mountain near
Okanagan Falls shortly after WWI Sold to Harry McWalters in 1955 who
renamed Hawthorn Mountain. Today the winery is owned by Vincor and is
called See Ya Later.
- Casabello Winery the name means Fine Home
in Italian a partnership of investors headed by Evans Louheed.
Establish in Penticton BC1964.Their first vintage in 1966 was produced
with 250 tons of Grapes 60% from the Okanagan 40% from California.
Consulting winemaker for the first two years was Wallace Pohle. Thomas
Hoenisch was hired in 1971 as resident winemaker. Casabello was the first
commercial winery to make a committed to small oak barrels. The
winery could not muster a strong challenge to the Calona Winery sales.
Labatts took over the Winery in 1977 after labatt left the wine business
the name was changed to Cartier Wines before becoming part of Vincor.
Labatt's In 1964 John Labatt a major brewer
in Manitoba plunged into the wine business by acquiring Château-Gai
in Ontario and the Casabello Winery in BC. In 1965, Labatt's acquired
control of the Parkdale Wines Limited changing the name to Château Cartier
and, a year later, acquired Grimsby Wines Limited to establish a position
in the growing Canadian wine market. Labatt's man Don Triggs was responsible
for the Canadian wineries Labatt's hired a man named Allan Jackson to
run Ridout Wines. In 1970 Labatt's introduced a new label, Chateua Cartier,
Labatts sold to a group of investors including Triggs and Jackson. The
wines were briefly sold under the label Cartier Wines. When this new
group merged with T.J. Bright to form Vincor some wines continued to
be sold under the Cartier label. Please see Vincor
- Mission Hills In 1965 a Okanagan businessman
named R.P. "Tiny" Walrod
led the development of a california interest along with local investors
in starting a winery perched on Mt. Boucherie over looking Okanagan
lake. There were to separate companies Mission Hills Vineyard Ltd.
and Mission Hills Wines Ltd. They would later consolidate into
one public company. Walrod passed away before the winery opened.
Poor wine and financial problems caused the winery to fail. In
1970 Ben Ginter takes over the winery renaming it Uncle Ben's Gourmet
Wines Ltd. He set about trying to match the hot product of the
day Baby Duck He came out with Foddle Duck Yellow bird and Hot
Goose. However the winery slipped into receivership in 1978. Ben Ginter
managed to find the funds to repurchase the winery changing the name
to Golden Valley Wines Ltd. In 1981 he sold the winery to Anthony Von Mandl
and Nick Clark.
Mission Hill was relaunched. changing the wines names and spreading their
sales base. Their poorer quality wines were released under various labels
including Caves Chauvignon and Klosterberg . The better wines were sold under
Pandosy cellars. The mission Hill label was saved for classic European varietals
starting with the 1981 Gewürztraminer and Johannisberg riesling. Mission
hill also sold Golden Valley Cider which help keep the winery afloat.
In 1982 the Winery had a new tasting room and hired actor Bruno Gerusis to do
Tv ads. The ads worked as sales increased.
They also hired winemaker Daniel Lagnaz who began producing award winning
wines. In 1994 under winemaker John Simms won the very prestigious
Avey's Trophy for their 1992 Grand Reserve Barrel select Chardonnay, bringing
international attention to Mission Hill and BC wines
- Sumac Ridge Harry McWatters, who worked for Penticton based Casabello Wines, and partner Lloyd Schmidt, whose father had been a pioneer grape grower in the Okanagan, began laying plans for an estate winery in 1979.
McWatters and Schmidt started from scratch. After examining several potential sites for a vineyard and a winery they paid $475,000 for a nine hole golf course and clubhouse in Summerland. Vines were planted on some of the fairways and arrangements were made to buy grapes from other Okanagan vineyards , Sumac Ridge is currently owned ny Vincor.
- Beaupré Wines (Canada) Ltd founded in
1983 by Potters Distillery in Langley BC closed in 1989 when Potters
merged with Calona Wines.
- Niagara Peninsula the largest grape growing region in Canada
- Pelee Island a wine appellation
in Ontario, Canada's most southern point. Grapes were first
commercially planted here in 1866.
- Lake Erie North Shore the third Ontario
appellation along the Windsor Corridor. Please see Lake
Erie North Shore
- The Ontario Temperance Act was a law
Ontario in 1916 to prohibit the
sale of alcohol, a period known as
Prohibition. In 1919 it was amended to exclude domestic wines. There
were only six established wineries in Ontario at that time; Barnes (est
1873), T.G. Bright, Jules Robinet and Sons(est 1882) National Wine Company
(est. 1894), Turner Wine Co. ( 1885) and Stamford Park Wines ( 1890)
Horticultural Research Institute of Ontario founded
1906 they tested over eighty thousands Labrusca seedlings
between 1906 and 1960. It was their research on Vinifera hybrides
in Vineland, Ontario that was most successful. Ollie Brandt started
the Vinifera program in 1946.
- Zing Produced by Jordan WInes staring in
1962. A beverage with twenty per cent alcohol sold at perhaps half the
price of real gin. Zing was the largest selling wine in Ontario within
four months. Competitors quickly jumped aboard the trend, with Zip and
Calona's Silver and Gold being west coast brands. Sales of the category
peaked in 1965 and then died slowly, with Zing being discontinued in
- Ziraldo Zap a wine produced by Donald
Ziraldo prior to establishing Inniskillin Winery
it was made from verdelet french hybrid grapes
- Zip The brand name for a gin-flavored wine
beverage released by West Coast Wines, a small winery that operated
briefly in New Westminster in the early 1960s. These beverages enjoyed
explosive popularity after Jordan Wines in Ontario introduced Zing in
- Newark Wines founded in 1979 by Joseph Pohorly sold in 1982 and later became Hillebrand Estate winery.
- Pullout Program. Initiated by the Ontario
Government allowing grape growers to pull out labrusca vines and
change them to french hybrids and vinifera
The People, London Winery, Vincor, Baby Duck, History, History of Icewine, History Gallery
Niagara's Wine Visionaries - Linda Bramble
- James Lorimer - Company Ltd
Okanagan Wine Tour Guide - John Schreiner
The Wines of Canada - John Schreiner - Mitchell Beazley Classic
The Wineries of British Columbia - John Schreiner - Whitecap
Icewine The Complete Story -
John Schreiner - Warwick Publishing
Canada Wines for Dummies - Tony Aspler, Barbara Leslie
- CDG Books
Wines Of Ontario An Industry Comes of Age - William F. Rannie
* Chateau Clair, Canada’s First Vineyard & Commercial Winery
By Matthew Wilkinson
Historian, Heritage Mississauga
Notes and information supplied by
Chateau des Charmes Winery