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Domaine des Côtes d’Ardoise

Interviews

Domaine des Côtes d’Ardoise: Combining art and winemaking

Right by the Quebec-Vermont border, 80 km south of Montreal, there’s a winery steeped in history located in the town of Dunham—Domaine des Côtes d’Ardoise. It’s considered to be the oldest active commercial vineyard in Quebec and stands out through its gardens, historical buildings and impressive art exhibit. And it’s where Henry-Alain Drocourt offers tastings of the estate’s wines.

Published on July 31, 2023

Winemaker, cellar master and general manager Henry-Alain was there to welcome me when I arrived in the early afternoon. We took a stroll on the grounds as he talked about his journey.

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" I came to Quebec in 2008 for a nine-month internship to finish my Master’s degree in Winemaking and Terroir—and I just never left. I’ve worked in many different vineyards and became a winemaker here at Côtes d’Ardoise in 2016, then the general manager in 2019."

- Henry-Alain Drocourt

An organic philosophy

Henry-Alain is also the one who came up with the idea of having the winery be certified organic in 2016. I asked what it meant to him and what motivated this.

He explained, “To me, being organic is a way of life. I eat organic, my lifestyle is organic, so I wanted our products to be organic, too. When it comes to winemaking, I prefer letting nature do its thing. I want the vineyard to be teeming with life. Being more hands off in that way also minimizes soil erosion and preserves the quality of the water. We only have wells here, and we want to preserve all of that. Our vineyard has been organic since 2019. As of the 2021 harvest, all of our wines are 100% organic. The owners trusted me implicitly with this crazy idea, and we’re all thrilled with the results. We currently have 33 acres of land and are one of the two largest organic vineyards in Quebec. In total, we have almost 60,000 grapevines, and every year we produce 50,000 bottles of Chardonnay, Gamay, Gewurztraminer and Riesling, which I’m particularly proud of. Ours is dry, fruity and floral, with a great structure and a slightly spicy finish.” Je suis d’ailleurs particulièrement fier de ce dernier. Il a un nez fruité aux arômes floraux. Ce riesling sec s’étend en bouche par une bonne structure et une finale légèrement épicée. »

Art in the grapevines

As we walked around, I could see that there was art everywhere. And it’s no surprise—Côtes d’Ardoise has long hosted Nature et Création (French only), the biggest sculpture exhibit in the province. Over 200 pieces of all sizes created by over 70 different artists from Quebec and France are displayed along a one-kilometre trail. 

This exhibit fits in with Henry-Alain’s overall vision for the business. He said, “We like that people drive over to have fun. We’re thrilled to welcome families, too. I have two kids of my own, so we try to offer something for everyone. For example, we have apple juice for the little ones, and we try to create experiences that they would find interesting. We want to see what they’re open to discovering. People can also come with their pets. And every season is different—it’s gorgeous in the fall with all the colours.”

Exploring the wide range of visual, artistic and tasty experiences at Domaine des Côtes d’Ardoise is a delight for the senses. The vineyard has a number of other projects brewing, too—a new building is currently under construction and will house a tasting area that promises even more unforgettable moments.

cotesdardoise.com

879 Bruce street
Dunham QC  J0E 1M0
450-295-2020

In partnership with Vaolo

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