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Canada’s Eastern Townships: Vignoble de l’Orpailleur

Founded in 1982, Vignoble de l’ Orpailleur was Québec’s first winery and  is one of the best known in the province. In addition to being along the Wine Route it is part of a network of economusées, businesses that showcase their trade, share knowledge, and sell products made onsite.

It was named by Gilles Vigneault, poet and friend of its founders. It likens the orpailleurs, or gold panners, to the winemakers who extract the goodness of the grapes from the earth. Vignoble de L’Orpailleur’s liquid gold has won more than 140 gold and silver medals in a variety of international competitions.

Guided tours and wine tastings are offered. There is a restaurant, picnic area and boutique with specialty items. Descriptive panels along the interpretive trail describe the workings of this vineyard, from planting and maintaining the vines to bottling.

This was also the first enterprise of its kind to implement principles of sustainable agriculture to viticulture. There are nesting boxes for the tree swallows and bluebirds that help with insect control. Pheromone traps attract male insects, reducing reproduction. 

For their ice wine, grapes must be harvested and slowly pressed at freezing temperatures. The yield is only about a fifth of that of grapes from the autumn harvest. Their work in creating a perfectly balanced product, however, has won them dozens of international gold medals.

Weddings and workshops take place in Dame-Jeanne Hall, which has a sweeping view of the vineyard. It was named for the woman who inspired the large short-necked bottles now known as demijohns seen throughout the property. They hold the Angels’ Share, La parte des Anges, a wine named for the evaporated portion said to go to heaven.

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