The Wine Atlas of Canada


288 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-679-31334-2
DDC 663'.2'00971





Reviewed by John R. Abbott

John Abbott is a professor of history at Laurentian University’s Algoma University College. He is the co-author of The Border at Sault Ste Marie and The History of Fort St. Joseph.


Inexplicably, by their choice of title, the author, editor, and
publisher have put what is otherwise a fine volume at risk. This is not
an “atlas” of any kind. Nothing distinguishes it in any substantive
way from a number of other excellent “guides” to Canadian wines,
wine country, and wine producers. Tony Aspler offers an overview of the
Canadian wine industry, including a brief history and its distinguishing
aspects, especially the Vintners Quality Alliance, the Canadian measure
of quality in wine. He then focuses on British Columbia, Ontario,
Quebec, and the Atlantic Provinces, their distinct
“sub-appellations,” and wineries. For individual wineries he offers
observations on provenance, personnel, distinguishing characteristics of
their wines, wine-making philosophy, as well as the natural and built
environments. He has rather more advice to give the wine tourist in
regard to devising efficient itineraries, anticipating standard tasting
protocols, planning winery dining, accommodation, and picnics than other
guides. No other guide matches the quantity and quality of the

The book has the weight, glossiness, and conservative dust cover of a
wine atlas, but lacks even the most rudimentary road maps. Those
published by wine country bureaus put Aspler’s to shame. Young as they
are, Canadian wine regions are being divided into plots with distinctive
characteristics of soil, exposure, and climate, right down to the
vineyard level. Representative examples (such as Niagara’s Beamsville
Bench), well mapped and explicated with charts and graphs, should be
included in a wine “atlas.” One thinks of The World Atlas of Wine by
Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson, and the mapping in the latter’s
admirable “Vines, Grapes and Wines.” What can be done with maps,
graphs, charts, and text is abundantly evident in The Historical Atlas
of Canada. One hopes that the next edition of the Wine Atlas of Canada
will offer content consistent with the promise in the title.


Aspler, Tony., “The Wine Atlas of Canada,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024,