7 WINE-GROWING REGIONS TO DISCOVER… AND VISIT!

Like all of the greatest vineyards around the world, each of Quebec’s wine-growing regions is very distinct. Their unique identities are determined by each region’s one-of-a-kind geology, climate and soils, which highlight the individual characteristics of the different “terroirs” throughout the Belle Province.

Join us on a tour of the regions!

DEUX-MONTAGNES

This region encompasses Deux-Montagnes, Mirabel and Vaudreuil-Soulanges, as well as some of the western parts of Montreal and Laval.

Geology and soils

Its landscape is mostly flat, except for the Oka and Rigaud mountains, which give the region its name. The few narrow bands of glacial deposits create gentle hills that are covered in layers of marine sediments—ideal for growing strong, healthy grapevines.

Climate

This region benefits from the moderating effects of the surrounding bodies of water (Deux-Montagnes Lake, Lake Saint-Louis, Ottawa River and St. Lawrence River), which help regulate daytime and nighttime temperature variations. This region often experiences more snowfall in the winter than other regions located to the south of Montreal, providing an extra layer of insulation to the vines.

  • Average rainfall: from 589 to 763 mm

  • Frost-free days: between 164 and 187

  • Degree-days: from 1049 to 1383

RICHELIEU RIVER VALLEY

This region stretches along the rolling hills of Montreal and extends from the St. Lawrence River to the east of the Richelieu River (the area between Iberville and Sabrevois). It also includes the hilly plains of the St. Lawrence high terraces that overlook the Adirondack foothills (Covey Hill area).

Geology and soils

The Richelieu River Valley is rich in clay and organic soils. This region is also largely made up of various glacial deposits, with a few small areas of gravelly, stony soil—perfect for growing grapevines. 

Climate

Weather conditions in this region are among the best in the province for growing grapes, boasting the longest frost-free period, even though temperatures vary dramatically between winter and summer.

  • Average rainfall: from 572 to 698 mm

  • Frost-free days: between 205 and 212

  • Degree-days: from 1191 to 1415

APPALACHIAN FOOTHILLS

This region stretches from Lake Champlain to theSutton Mountains. It encompasses the Dunham area, also known as the birthplace of Quebec’s wine-growing industry. Its vineyards are found in two different soil regions—the St. Lawrence high terraces that overlook the Appalachian foothills to the west and the Appalachian Mountains to the east.

Geology and soils

The majority of the soils in this region developed from glacial sediments. 

Climate

This region stands out for its diverse climate. The weather is generally better in the west, but cooler and not as mild in higher altitude areas like Frelighsburg and Sutton. The Saint-Armand vineyards are at a lower altitude and benefit from the tempering effect of Lake Champlain.

  • Average rainfall: from 661 to 819 mm

  • Frost-free days: between 196 and 207

  • Degree-days: from 1171 to 1348

MONTEREGIAN HILLS

The vineyards in this region stretch all the way from the St. Lawrence River to the Appalachian Mountains, skirting along the edges of the Saint-Bruno, Saint-Hilaire, Rougemont, Saint-Grégoire and Yamaska mountains. 

Geology and soils

This region is characterized by the Monteregian Hills, a group of 10 hills formed between 90 and 125 million years ago. The area surrounding the Monteregian Hills is covered with sand and gravel deposits, left behind by the beaches of the ancient Champlain Sea, and is where most of the vineyards in the region are located.

Climate

The vineyards in this region enjoy some of the best climatic conditions for growing grapevines. Planted on hillsides, the vines are exposed to varying amounts of sunshine—from the east, south or west—which strongly influences their microclimate. Temperatures vary dramatically between winter and summer.

  • Average rainfall: from 650 to 755 mm

  • Frost-free days: between 200 and 207

  • Degree-days: from 1087 to 1348

APPALACHIAN PLATEAU

This region is made up of various plateaus ranging anywhere from 150 to 450 metres in altitude. The lowlands are situated between Durham and Melbourne, extending all the way to Victoriaville. The highlands are to the east of the Sutton Mountains, between Magog and Sherbrooke. 

Géology and soils

The soils in the lowlands, derived from acidic to neutral sedimentary rocks, and are rocky and stony; whereas the soils in the highlands are less deep, acidic, rocky and stony. 

Climate

The climate in the Appalachian Plateau is cooler than other regions located at lower altitudes (Appalachian Foothills, Richelieu River Valley, Lake Saint-Pierre). This region experiences more rainfall than the more southern areas of the province and generally has to cope with more snow cover than some of the other bordering regions.

  • Average rainfall: from 672 to 785 mm/p>

  • Frost-free days: between 200 and 207

  • Degree-days: from 929 to 1226

LAKE SAINT-PIERRE

This vast region stretches along the southern (from Varennes to Bécancour) and northern (from Repentigny to Trois-Rivières) shores of the St. Lawrence River. It encompasses the drainage basins from the Lake Saint-Pierre tributaries, including the St. Lawrence River, as well as the Maskinongé, Yamachiche, Du-Loup, Aux-Sables, Richelieu, Yamaska, Saint-François and Nicolet rivers. The vineyards that wrap around Lake Saint-Pierre are planted on the site of the ancient Lampsilis Lake, a huge freshwater body dating back to 8,000 years B.C. 

Geology and soils :

The soils in this region are mainly composed of marine sediments. Therefore, depending on the area, the soil may contain significant amounts of sand, clay or lime. 

Climate :

The relative humidity around the banks of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Saint-Pierre is more pronounced, and temperature variances aren’t quite as extreme. This region is generally colder than the area south of the Monteregian Hills, except for the areas of Varennes and Saint-Amable, which are among the warmest in Quebec. The north shore of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Saint-Pierre generally has a lot more snow cover than the south shore.

  • Average rainfall: from 579 to 776 mm

  • Frost-free days: between 164 and 179

  • Degree-days: from 1019 to 1348

QUEBEC AND THE BANKS OF THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER

This region extends into the southern outskirts of Quebec City, between Lotbinière and Bellechasse, and into the city’s northern suburbs, from Portneuf all the way to La Côte-de-Beaupré. It also includes Île d’Orléans, which follows the east-west flow of the St. Lawrence River.

Geologie and soils

This region has several limestone formations and shale outcrops, on which several vineyards have been planted. The majority of Île d’Orléans has loamy soils that contain significant amounts of clay, sand and gravel.

Climate

The region’s proximity to the river dictates its climate. In spring, the St. Lawrence River protects the vineyards from late frosts, while in the fall, it helps extend the growing season until the end of October. The southwestern part of Île d’Orléans has its very own microclimate, fostering the perfect environment for wine-growing. Battered by strong winds throughout the year, it is one of the coolest wine-growing regions in Quebec, and also experiences a lot more snowfall than most of the other regions.

  • Average rainfall: from 735 to 812 mm

  • Frost-free days: between 164 and 179

  • Degree-days: from 846 to 1069

EMERGING REGIONS

De nouvelles régions productrices comptent quelques vignobles sur leur territoire, mais leurs particularités géologiques, climatiques et pédologiques restent encore à définir. Voilà desrégions qui feront l’objet de recherches plus  fouillées dans les années à venir.

Defining quebec’s wine-growing regions: a work in progress

The Conseil des vins du Québec continues its pursuit to characterize Quebec’s wine-growing regions in an effort to fine-tune and gather the most up-to-date information. Over time, the map and names of current regions may change to better reflect the evolution of Quebec’s vineyards.

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