Friday, August 28, 2009

Winnipeg Wine Scene? - Part 2

Winnipeg Wine

There is one local wine producer based in Winnipeg: DD Leobard Winery. This winery specializes in fruit wines and are known for a curious little oddity called Tansi (Birch Wine) made from fermenting the sap of the birch trees.

Tasting notes: Semi-sweet wine. On the nose: light bouquet of damp, freshlycut wood. On the palate, mild fruit flavours, low acidity. For a full review of this wine, please visit our sister site:
DD Leobard have stated that they are working on two new table wines made from outsourced grapes, essentially, blends made from imported juice concentrates. For more information about this winery, visit their site:

Wine Lists

Many Winnipeg restaurants do have decent wine lists, but few had much more than house wines or one white and one red for by-the-glass sampling. Even a couple of the restaurants using “Wine Bar” as part of their marketing had very few options for by-the-glass. On the plus side, the use of the term “Wine bar” in these restaurants’ marketing material would indicate that they are starting to realize that interest in wine is on the rise, but they must produce the goods or remove the word ‘wine’.
Our favourite night out came in an area of Winnipeg called Osbourne Village. This neighbourhood is home to many of the city’s young and not-so-young hipsters who patronize the many restaurants, bars and funky shops. The area is also home to the city’s two true wine bars: Noir, and Fude. Noir () had an impressive by-the-glass wine list (impressive in length if not in quality). They offer wine flights, which is a fun way to try more wines than you normally might in one visit. Fude ( is slightly more of a restaurant but did have a good selection of by-the-glass wines and small plates to nibble on.

Where to Buy

Manitoba’s provincial liquor board authority has outlets all over the city which offer a reasonable selection of wines priced in the $10 - $25 range. Sadly, the name they came up with for these stores was “Liquor Mart” because nothing says “fine vintage wine” like “Liquor Mart”. In fairness, the name appeals to the majority of Winnipeg consumers who aren’t purchasing wine but, rather, are choosing from a large selection of spirits and beer. Many of the Liquor Marts do have small “Vintages” sections where they showcase a few premium import wines, and a few stores also had a premium Canada section with some of the top brands from Vincor and Peller Andrews.
I was able to locate only one private wine store during my stay. Luckily, it was a good one. Fenton’s Wine Merchants is located in tourist area called “The Forks”. This area is a fun place to spend a day or afternoon and offers a public market, restaurants, live entertainment and antique shops. Fenton’s has a great selection of Californian, Spanish, French and Italian wines and was reasonably priced. I picked up a fine Francis Ford Coppola Pinot Noir which I had to consume right away since I could not bring it home due to Canada’s antiquated liquor laws.

In Conclusion

There is no denying that Winnipeg is a beer and spirits city. However, if the younger generation frequents restaurants like Osborne Village’s Noir and Fude more often, and the wine festival continues to increase attendance year after year, there is hope in Winnipeg’s future for a true wine scene to develop.. As I will undoubtedly be revisiting Winnipeg for family obligations in the years to come, here’s hoping. - LC

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