The Association des Vignerons du Québec (AVQ) was created on October 21, 1987, thanks to the initiative of a few passionate and convinced wine growers, looking to combine their energy to establish a wine industry in the province of Québec.
Historical background of Québec’s Wine Industry
Wine making in Québec got its roots from the experiences of the first settlers when they came to Canada.
In 1535, Jacques Cartier, going up stream on the St-Lawrence River, discovered wild vines on “l’Ile de Bacchus,” known today as l’Ile d’Orléans.
Between 1860 and 1870, there was a boom in Québec’s viticulture, inspired by the success of the vineyards on the Niagara Peninsula, where wine growers selected grape varieties adapted to cold climates. However, meagre success forced many Quebec wine growers to abandon their endeavours.
In 1919, Quebec was the only place in America where Prohibition was not total: wine, beer and cider were allowed.
In 1921, an Alcoholic Beverages Act was passed and the Commission des liqueurs du Québec was established (CLQ).
In 1961, the CLQ became the Régie des Alcools du Québec.
In 1971, the Commission de contrôle des permis d’alcool and the SAQ were created and replaced the Régie des Alcools du Québec.
In 1980, viticulture in Québec made a come back. Between the years 1980-1996, seventy-five wineries were established in the province of Québec.
It was in 1985 that the first professionals made this art meaningful by creating commercial grape growing. Five pioneers obtained the right to sell their production. Our climate in Québec made wine growing difficult, but the biggest task for these pioneers was to convince and create an opening at the SAQ, a publicly owned corporation, possessing the monopoly on alcoholic beverages.
Also in 1985, the first sales permits for artisanal wine were granted in the province of Québec, authorizing the sale of wine produced, using grape vines from Québec wine growers. This permit stipulated that only wine operations having a minimum of 5,000 plants could make the request.
In 1987 the Association des Vignerons du Québec was created.
More than ten years later, on July 5, 1996, restaurant owners were able to purchase directly from the wine makers. Some Québec wine makers started to sell their products to the Société des alcools du Québec and sometimes in some public markets in the province.
With the 2009 harvest, the AVQ adopted a quality approach with the designation, “Vin du Québec certifié” to…
Practices essentially done in Québec
Growing grapes in Québec requires, above all, vine varieties that need a short or very short growth period, have a significant resistance to cold and the application of a method developed in northern European countries: earthing-up the grapevines in the fall to protect them from the cold and unearthing them in the spring. Only a few rare hectares of vines are not earthed-up before winter. With advanced research done on cold climate grape growing, new climate-resistant grape varieties are now emerging.
Esteemed, but still little-known wines
With the efforts of the past five (5) years, Québec wine has made a huge turnaround. Support from the SAQ, the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des pêcheries et de l’Alimentation (MAPAQ), journalists, columnists and wine stewards is not foreign. Even though the financial means of the majority of the businesses remains modest, the know-how of the wine growers from here and the development of more specific and refined techniques are promising. Wine is good. Our ice-wine is world-class. Approximately one hundred medals have crowned the wines for our Québec wine growers. All of these medals- gold, silver and bronze-_ have been obtained at international competitions, such as Les Sélections mondiales de Montréal, Atlanta Wine Summit in Atlanta, International Eastern Wine Competition in Watkins Glenn, InterVin in Williamsville, the Indiana State Fair, Vinalies and La Coupe des Nations.
In 1995, the Association des Vignerons du Québec and the Syndicat viticole des Graves et Graves supérieures of the Bordeaux region united in a professional partnership. This is how the youngest winery in the world and the oldest winery of Bordeaux sealed a fraternity of professionals between our two continents. The official recognition of the professionalism of Québec’s grape growers by the wine growers of the Graves region immensely helped to realise our willingness to make ourselves known and to assert ourselves both on the provincial and national levels and, of course, with the help of the partnership, to be known internationally.
In 1997, the AVQ celebrated its tenth anniversary. It was during this prestigious celebration, which was held at the Institut du tourisme et d'hôtellerie du Québec in Montréal, that the creation by a group of wine growers from the province of Québec was unveiled, La Noble Confrérie des vignerons du Québec. This brotherhood later inducted during following meetings, several personalities from the gastronomic, journalistic, vitivinicultural, political and artistic worlds, etc. The main objective pursued by wine growers is the quality of wine, and it is on the tables of the best restaurants that our wines can be tasted and consumed in perfect harmony with regional cuisine that delights the connoisseurs of fine food.
The beautiful wineries of the province of Québec are open to the public, and visitors or tourists often enhance their visits to the wineries by visiting the regions which abound with various attractions and high- end gastronomic places. Guided winery tours are offered generally everywhere upon reservation, but self-guided visits do not require reservations.
Come discover Québec wines.