On the magnificent Avenue Royale, in L’Ange-Gardien, near Quebec City, sits inland, a little set back from the St. Lawrence River and on the hillside, the Domaine L’Ange Gardien. The only vineyard in the Côte-de-Beaupré.
Founded by four friends in 2004, it is now owned by Bruno Fortin, Jean-Luc Gariépy, André Lemay and Jean-Louis Crête.
The latter, who studied at Vignoble Isle de Bacchus and Vignoble Bourg-Royal – one of the first vineyards in Quebec City, now closed – explains that the choice of the location of the estate was long thought out before planting the first vines.
“We decided to set up the vineyard here, first of all for its proximity to the river. In the spring, as it is colder, the buds bud less quickly, which is less risky for spring frosts. In the fall, the river retains the heat stored during the summer, which helps to stretch the vegetative season. In winter, the wind rediffuses the mist of the river that protects the vines from the cold, “explains the cellar master.
“In addition, with our beautiful hillside facing south, the vines enjoy the sun all day long,” adds Jean-Luc Gariépy. Wind exposure helps to drive away insects, so we don’t need to put insecticides or herbicides in our fields.”
In addition to the topographical aspects of this land, there is the breathtaking view of the river and the Île d’Orléans which is not to be neglected. Visitors are also invited to take the path that goes to the top of the slope to admire it.
From the new terrace located on the side of the main building, which houses the shop and the reception room, it is the vineyards arranged at an angle that cut the landscape of the Côte-de-Beaupré that visitors, a drink in hand, can appreciate.
“A vineyard is a landscape architect,” Bruno Fortin likes to recall.
Wine tourism enthusiasts can also appreciate the expansion and new cladding of the period barn, which serves as a winery. There are also new and shiny stainless steel tanks from the internationally renowned company La Garde, in Quebec City.
“We are one of the few vineyards in Quebec to use them. They have a unique shape, cubic and rectangular, which promotes contact between the marc and the must, they contain more liquid than cylindrical tanks of comparable height and width and take up less space in the cellar, “says Jean-Louis Crête.
A growing vineyard
These new facilities were built to support the company’s growth. If, in recent years, the vineyard sold some of its grapes to others, today all the fruits are vinified at the estate. “It’s a vineyard with a lot of potential,” says Benoit Fortin.
On the seven hectares of the estate, we find only hybrid grape varieties: vandal-cliche, swenson, seyval blanc, frontenac blanc, radisson, sabrevois, marquette, maréchal foch and baltica.
Some 45,000 bottles of wine are produced per year. If you can get them at the vineyard shop where Bruno’s wife, Lyne Leclair, may be there to offer you a small tasting, you can now get your hands on the Swenson Reserve at the SAQ.
“With the labor shortage, all shareholders are spending time in the store. It allows us to be more in touch with products and customers and to be on the lookout for new trends,” says Bruno Fortin while presenting his new product, an orange wine certified PGI Vin du Québec.
In the fields, however, the owners can count on a team of loyal workers 100% Quebec.
“It’s quite rare in Quebec vineyards,” says Jean-Louis Crête. There are a lot of older people coming to work with us when they retire.”
The magnificent view surely has something to do with it!