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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Drew

The Grapevines: Les Vignes

It's that time of year when grape growers await the bounty of their summer labors in the vineyards of North America. This has been happening for centuries in France, but it's a relatively new phenomenon in New France, now known as Québec.

Grapevine Illustration
Illustration from Le Verger, Le Potager et Le Parterre (1874)

Centuries ago, it was thought that wine grapes would not grow well in relatively cold places like Québec. This was echoed by Pierre Boucher, and possibly by Jacques Archambault, who sold wine in France, but there is no evidence of him returning to wine grape-growing after reaching the shores of North America. Obviously, a lack of evidence does not prove the case, but we do know that it took a long time for a thriving wine industry to occur in Québec.

Another example of the lack of hope for a thriving wine industry was given in the 1874 publication, Le Verger, Le Potager et Le Parterre by L'Abbé L. Provancher. While extolling the virtues of native (and some European) varieties for table grapes, the author insisted it was "décidément impraticable" to grow wine grapes due to "la sévérité" of Canadian winters. It was further suggested to grow grapes under glass, as was done in 1857 within 10 miles of Boston, Massachusetts, claiming at least 40 tons of fruit had been produced. Perhaps the author would be surprised today by La Route des Vins, a wine trail featuring visits to wineries throughout the southern portion of Québec. You may even see a few alpacas along the way!

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