While most of the world’s wine supply comes from either France or Italy, many regions are proud producers, too. Hungary, California, and even the province of Quebec! The Eastern Townships, which are just two hours from Montreal, are filled with vineyards and wineries, so much that the tourist board decided to create a wine route to help tourists tour the region’s most interesting wine spots.
Along with a few friends, I decided to explore the route myself this past autumn. Here’s what I did.
Eastern Townships Wine Route – My Favourite Wineries
Now, the most important part of this trip: the wine. There are over twenty vineyards open for visit in the area, each with its specialities. I’ve been to most of them and after careful consideration over a glass (or several) of wine, I picked my four favourites – because they, first off and most importantly, have amazing wines at great prices.
The first one, Val Caudalies, even has some tasty sparkly apple cider that’s well worth a detour. But even if it wasn’t for the wines, the setting itself is simply too stunning to pass. A huge barn on top on a mountain, overlooking the vines and the other mountains of the region… absolutely priceless. The owners, three wine aficionado guys, are super friendly and more than happy to help you find the perfect wine for your taste buds. If you had only one stop to make on your wine route, I suggest you make it at Val Caudalies – you’ll get everything you need there. Good wines, genuine smiles, beautiful scenery. Albeit a bit small but certainly not lacking in charm, the Domaine du Ridge is another favourite of mine. It left me wondering if I had time-traveled to the UK or if I really was still in Canada! The two others, Orpailleur and Côtes d’Ardoise, are probably the largest wineries in the area and thoroughly explain the process of wine making, which is very interesting for newcomers (like me). Union Libre and Vignoble Gagliano were also very popular among my group of friends.
What I really liked about the wine route is meeting with the producers and owners – you get to discuss anything and everything with them, especially their labour of love. Plus, bottles are much cheaper than at the liquor store (remember that alcohol sales are regulated via state-owned stores called SAQs).
As you can see from the photos, I visited the wine route during the fall and I highly recommend you do the same – just in time for the autumn harvest! Plus, you’ll get to kill two birds with one stone and experience the magical fall colours at the same time. Not bad, eh?
Eastern Townships Wine Route – A Few Tips
- Fret not: although the Eastern Townships kind of sound like a backwater kind of place, it’s actually very accessible from Montreal, and easy to navigate.
- The region is also famous for its fine cuisine. Make sure to stop at Dunham’s La Rumeur Affamée (3809 rue Principale), where you can find many local products under one roof, including maple products to chutneys, cheeses and chocolate goodness.
- If you’re visiting in the winter, you might also be interested in the Ice Wine Route, which is also delicious and almost endemic to Canada. There’s even a guided ice wine tasting tour from Montreal.
- If you would rather not drive, there’s a company called Kava tours that will pick you in Montreal and show you around the best wineries. This also means you don’t have to worry about going over the alcohol limit ;-) You could also book a small-group Eastern Townships winery tour with cheese tasting.