The Rising Popularity of Italian Wine in Canada

When talking about Italian wine exports to the Americas, we always seem to focus on the United States. Occasionally, we may talk about some of the South American countries, such as Chile and Argentina too. After all, they have their own wine industries, which means they have a bit more of an impact on what happens with wine in the world.

But there’s one country that never seems to get a mention…


The country has a bit of a strange place in terms of how many people view it. Despite being a massive country, and by all accounts a beautiful and interesting place to visit, Canada always seems to have this perception of it being the younger brother of the United States.

It’s something that gets played up in pop culture as well, often for laughs. And it may have contributed to people taking the country a little less than seriously at times. At the very least, it always seems to fall under the shadow of the United States, whether or not it actually deserves to be there.

That’s why we’ve decided to focus on Canada in today’s article. As strange as it may seem, the country is one of the dark horse contenders for the biggest exporter of Italian wines. And if the recent stats show us anything, it’s looking like the Canadians’ appetite for Italian wine isn’t going to slow down anytime soon.

Constant Growth For Several Years

If we look back through the stats, we can see that Italy seems to export more and more wine to Canada every year.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise as Canada is just outside of the global top 10 when it comes to wine consumption. In fact, Canadians drink about 470 litres of the stuff every year. And only 30% of that comes from Canadian producers.

The rest comes from exporters, including Italy!

So, how does Canada rank as one of Italy’s key wine importers?

Interestingly enough, the 2018 stats show that it buys more than you may think. According to Italian Wine Central, Canadians bought more than 8.5 million cases of Italian wine last year. In total, Canadian suppliers spent over €330 million on Italian wine.

That means the country ranks fifth amongst all of those who buy from the Italian wine industry. 

We were shocked too!

But a further exploration into the stats shows that there’s been a constant rise in interest from Canadian consumers when it comes to Italian wine.

Even as far back as 2015, Italian wines made up 17% of the wines consumed in the country. While that exact volume changes year-on-year, the fact remains that Canadians love Italian wine.

And yet, it’s one of the less appreciated territories out there. With so many producers either focusing on consolidating positions in the UK and US or trying to break emerging markets in China, India, and Russia, Canada almost comes off as an afterthought.

We don’t think that should be the case at all. And we’ve come up with a few reasons why more Italian wine producers should focus on the country.

Reason #1 – Canada Has a Limited Wine Industry

Canada has its own wine industry, though you might not know it seeing as there’s a distinct lack of Canadian vintages in most stores. Nevertheless, 30% of the wine consumed in the country comes from Canada itself.

But there’s a problem that the Canadian wine industry will always have to battle against.

The country is simply too cold to allow for much variety when it comes to wine production. Located in the northern hemisphere, and a fair distance away from the equator, Canada just can’t provide the temperate conditions that many of the best grapes thrive in.

That means Canadian wines have to focus on hardier varieties.

Of course, this also means that there are limitations to what producers can achieve in the country.

This opens the door for any enterprising foreign producers who wish to step in and fill a gap. If a producer can use grapes that can’t even be grown in Canada, they may be able to establish a niche for themselves.

Reason #2 – Other Countries Will Cotton Onto Canada’s Potential

Canada isn’t going to remain the big secret of the wine industry forever.

Canadian consumers want more wine. Demand keeps going up and producers have to make sure they’re ready to meet the demand.

If the Italian wine industry allows itself to fall behind, the French and American industries will establish more of a foothold. The American industry has the advantage of being in the country that’s right next door to Canada. As for the French industry, there’s a certain kinship with Canada as the French established many of the colonies that eventually became Canada’s major provinces and towns.

Those are barriers that the Italian industry may have to break through. But if the focus on Canada gets lost, we may see Italy start to lose ground.

The Issue to Overcome

With the reasons why more Italian producers should enter Canada established, there is an issue to confront.

In Canada, the Liquor Control Boards in each province control the distribution of alcohol. Each operates independently, which means producers have to develop a lot of relationships to put themselves in favourable positions.

That’s a key challenge for the Italian wine industry to confront. And we’ve seen several organisations, such as Vinitaly, make efforts to get Italian products in front of these boards in recent years.

It’s crucial that such organisations keep pushing the virtues of Italian wine to these boards. Canada represents a great opportunity for the Italian wine industry and its potential certainly hasn’t been fully realised yet.

We believe that the constant growth of the Canadian wine consumption stats indicate that this is a country that’s ready and waiting for more wines to enter. Italy must get ahead of the game and ensure that it’s well-positioned with each Canadian province if it’s to maintain its strong position in the country.



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