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Canada 150

 


      Carone Wines Brings Vitis Vinifera to Quebec

       
      By
      Sep. 30, 2011

      In the Lanaudière valley along the St Lawrence River, in the town of Lanoraie, Anthony Carone is busy at work. It’s just a few weeks before harvest, and Carone is keeping an eye on his 20,000 grapes vines. If all goes well, he will produce 25,000 bottles of award-winning wines from this year’s crop.

      Carone Wines is a fairly new player in the winemaking business, but it is already making a name for itself. It is the first Quebec winery to receive international medals for its wines, having won nineteen medals for its red wine, and one medal for its cyro-concentrated dessert wine. Its Venice wine is Quebec’s first ever Pinot Noir.

      The land where the vineyard stands has belonged to the Carone family for twenty-five years. Carone’s parents – Pietro and Pina – purchased the land to grow a vegetable garden. Their harvest was excessive and there was too much produce to go around. Their children – including Carone – were not fans of the big vegetable garden. And so fifteen years ago, the parents were considering selling the land, but Carone suggested he might want to try growing grapes. His father thought it a good idea, and so the experiment began.

      Carone began with 400 vines, trying different types of grapes and different methods of growing and winemaking. He spent time in Ontario learning from seasoned cold-climate grape growers. He collaborated and engaged with experts in the industry. And he experimented. Some methods failed. Others excelled. When he couldn’t find the necessary equipment he wanted, he would create his own inventions.

      “Anthony doesn’t listen when people say he can’t do something,” explains his wife, Sarah Hoodspith-Carone.

      “Once you overcome the challenges of winter, the rest is easy,” a modest Carone adds.

      Carone Wines is a family affair. Carone’s wife oversees the marketing and sales aspect of the company. Fourteen-year old Victoria is the VP of marketing, and eleven-year old Olivia is VP of production.

      “Olivia is actually our best bottler,” explains Hoodspith-Carone.

      “Sarah is our first taste-tester. She’s the first one I go to,” adds Carone.

      The Carone family is not the only one to delve into the wine business. The Quebec-made wine industry has grown steadily in the past decades. The town of Lanoraie, for example – where Carone Wines is situated – has 3,000 inhabitants and 60,000 grape vines.

      Right now, the Carone vineyard grows both European varieties and super hybrid grapes that were created specifically to survive the Canadian winter. But Carone has been working on making the European grape varieties – known as vitis vinifera – suitable for the winter as well. His goal is to only grow the vitis vinifera variety.

      “There are two camps of thought, hybrid versus international varieties. The super hybrid varieties just don’t make good wines,” Carone comments.

      Carone has always had an interest in winemaking. His father – like many Italian dads and granddads – made homemade wine every autumn. Carone fondly recalls the constant battle of wits between he and his father in regards to how to make the best wine.

      “My dad stuck to tradition and looked at the moon. I read up on modern methods of winemaking and wanted to try new things. So when dad wasn’t looking, I would sneak in and try my methods on dad’s wine without his knowledge,” Carone muses.

      His dad would unwittingly take all the credit for the good batch of wine.

      “A balance between tradition and modernism, that’s how we make wine today,” Carone continues.

      “We’re seeing more and more people, especially the younger demographic, appreciating locally made products. Why ship something thousands of miles, we can grow it and make it here just as well?”

      Carone wines can be purchased at the SAQ and at the Marché des Saveurs at the Jean Talon Market. The Carone Wines vineyard is open to visitors until November. To learn more, please visit www.carone.ca.

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