A little story

We Remember...

Proud and wise as an old maple who overlook our foothills, Doctor Jacques PAPILLON has known how to mark us with his immense soul and his at times sarcastic humor!!!

He has been the one taking care of the wineyard for over 26 years..

2013 is dedicated to him, this big man, by his highness and soul will serve us as a guide for long.

The scultpure exhibition which he is one of the cofounders will continue to live in this place for years to come

A souvenir of him will be revealed during the exhibition opening on July 13th.

The owners and personel of Domaine des Côtes d'Ardoise will try to walk in his footsteps.

A giant has passed......

Steve, Julie, Marc, Ginette, JP and the vineyard team

History of an Illegal Vineyard

The Vineyard’s Pioneers

In 1980, Christian Barthomeuf travelled to Ontario with Mr. Jacques Breault (who still grows vines in Dunham) to search for cuttings and plants his first vine stock of De Chaunac, Seyval Blanc and Marechal Foch at the vineyard. This makes Domaine Des Cotes d’Ardoise, the oldest commercial still exploited vineyard in Quebec.

1981 : First plantations of Marechal Foch, Seyval Blanc and Pinot Noir.

1982 : First plantations of Seyval and Chardonnay.

1983 : 13,000 plants are added, Gamay and Pinot Noir among them. The vineyard is sold to Mr. Jean-Louis Roy and Mr. Gilles Ducharme, and Mr. Barthomeuf stays as its manager.

1984 : The vineyard is sold to Mr. Jacques Papillon.

2010 : The vineyard is sold to Steve Ringuet, Julie Tasse, Marc Colpron and Ginette Martin.

The first red and white wines were made in 1982. In spring 1983, the Domain started selling its first bottles in total illegality, since no artisanal wine production permit existed then and less even a selling permit.

Selling Wine without a Permit

The vineyard that sold its wine without a permit definitely needed some sort of legal status, but the authorities did not know how to deal with the problem that menaced to become more serious as other nutcases were starting to grow vines in Dunham. The same laws that applied to the big commercial winemakers that imported their wine and their must from all over the world could not be applied to a small vineyard that produced its own grapes.

A new policy had to be created. Political pressure, rightly said, and the intervention of Mrs. Claire Lambin Plante, then director of La Barrique magazine, convinced the executives of the SAQ to come to the vineyard in August 1984 in order to at least taste the products from the vineyard.

Wine Tasting at the Vineyard

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the president of the SAQ, Mr. Lord and the laboratory director, Mr. Tremblay came by. The visit was short since our visitors feared being surprised by the media inside an illegal organization.

Dégustation au vignoble After the wine tasting, Mr. Tremblay announced surprised, « but it is drinkable, it is even sellable ». The first step was made toward a permit allowing artisanal production. The permits were issued in spring 1985 and 3 years later, Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise was earning the first medal granted to a Quebecois vineyard: the Seyval Carte d’Or 86 won the Gold Medal at Sélections Mondiales 1987 in Montreal in the Traditional White Wine Category over the classic Pierre Masson and a French wine called La Pucelle.



Médaille du vin blanc Seyval 1986Since then, the Vineyard Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise has not stopped improving in quantity and quality. The Estate currently grows 25,000 grapevines in a 7.5 hectare area.

Red Viniferas : Gamay
White Viniferas : Riesling
Red Hybrids : Foch, De Chaunac, Chélois, Lucy Kullman.
White Hybrids : Seyval, Aurore.

In 2009, the production will vary between 15,000 and 25,000 wine bottles per year.

History of the Artisanal Production Permit

Few people know the miserable conditions in which Quebec’s first vineyards had to work in during the 80s and the first half of the 90s. These conditions followed from the lack of consideration from the Quebec government toward the wine growing industries that attempted to establish in.

Let us remember that in spite of the fact that the first vineyards were established in the early 80s, it was only until 1985 that the first artisanal production permits were issued, after many difficult steps that had to be taken with the Government of Quebec and the SAQ.

Their regulations were not made to facilitate the task for those who wished to create a small wine growing industry in Quebec. On the contrary, these conditions were so restrictive that they seemed to be implanted purposefully to discourage instead of to help the first brave entrepreneurs. During this same period, Ontario and the federal government prepared to invest millions of dollars in Ontarian vineyards.

The first artisanal production permits issued in 1985 to 5 vineyards, were accompanied with the following conditions :

  • Special tax of 30% payable to the SAQ. As a control measure, the SAQ went to the vineyards and placed big orange stamps on the bottles.
  • Obviously, other taxes were equally applied (sale tax, excise duty, specific duty, etc.) for a total of more than 40%.
  • Selling was limited exclusively at the vineyard.
  • Wine samples sales were forbidden at the vineyard without a liquor license.
  • Wine consumption outside surrounding the boutique for picnic purposes was forbidden without a restaurant license and a liquor license.
  • Wine tasting in agricultural or food fairs and trade shows was forbidden.
  • Grape purchase from another vine growing farmer who did not wish to produce wine was forbidden.
  • Obviously, no rights to deliver products, even if the client paid for the transportation costs.
  • Selling to restaurants was forbidden.
  • The use of terms employed somewhere else than in Europe or Canada to describe the vineyard or the wines, such as Domaine, Clos, primeur, etc. was forbidden under the pretext of international treaties signed with France.
  • Practical impossibility of selling at the SAQ without going through the import department (even if personally, the Seyval Carte d’Or 86 of the Domain, earned a gold medal in Sélections Mondiales in 1987, which would have granted it automatically the right to be sold at the SAQ.)

As it can be noticed, it would have been hard to do more things to try to kill the initiative of the wine growing industry in Quebec.

The conditions are admittedly different today, but they endured too many years, in fact until the mid 90s, delaying the development of the wine industry in the province.

The conditions changed thanks to two factors:

  • The sustained action of the representatives of the Quebec Winegrowers Association. We need to pay homage to all those who fought for years to obtain the smallest of changes that seem so evident nowadays. We have a hard time imagining that it was otherwise in the past.
  • The open-mindedness of the government since 1996 that enabled important changes to the legislative, fiscal and administrative plans.

A- In the Legislative Plan :

In June 1996 the National Assembly adopted Law 44 enabling farmers to sale their products in hotels, bars, restaurants and other establishments that had consumption permit on the premises.

B- In the Fiscal Plan :

  • Reduction in the budget address of 1997 of the specific duty from 89 cents to 45 cents per liter.
  • Abolition, in the budget address of 1998, of the specific duty of 45 cents per liter in the first 1,500 hectoliters.
  • Adoption by the SAQ of a policy regarding farmers who bought grain alcohol to elaborate their products, avoiding double taxation problems and subsequent reimbursements.

C- In the Administrative Plan :

By the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) in its numerous regulations.

  • In the summer of 1997, permission was granted to the farmers, on a trial basis, to introduce, give samples and sell their products in agricultural fairs.
  • Reduction of the minimal standard to one hectare in order to obtain an artisanal production permit.
  • Abolition of the interdiction to use denominations and terms commonly used everywhere in the world, like, « CLOS », « CÔTES », Primeur, Domaine etc.
  • Right granted to the wine maker, as an agricultural producer, to sell his wines in public markets considered to be as extensions of his/her production facilities. (Regulation 010598-1127.) By the same regulation, the artisanal production permit included the right to transport said products.
  • The artisanal wine maker is no longer required to produce 100% of the fruit that goes into his/her wine. While still having to produce at least 50% of the inputs, from then on, he could buy 35% of the grapes, fresh or processed by other agricultural producers of Quebec and 15% from any source including the SAQ (Regulation 100798-1129.)

The Wine Growing Industry and Its Economic Benefits

Everywhere in the world the wine growing industry is a source of employment and economic and tourist development. There is no doubt on this matter when we see what has been happening in Europe and more recently in California and the Niagara Valley.

For about 15 years the federal and Ontario government have massively invested in the wine growing industry and have harvested significant results.

Now that the Quebecois wine growers have done their homework and have shown the seriousness in their commitment for nearly 25 years by investing tens of thousands of dollars, wouldn’t it be time for our two forms of government to take part in supporting the wine growing industry here?

Red Wine in Quebec

Here is a picture of a bottle of Clos de Saragnat, the first red wine produced by Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise, Quebec’s first artisanal winery still in operation.

Vin rouge du vignoble

It was the product from the 1982 vintage of the Vineyard Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise, made of De Chaunac, a French hybrid variety.

It was at that time that the experts said it was impossible to produce red or white wine in Quebec. Afterwards, toward the end of the 80s, it was gradually admitted that maybe white wine could be made in Quebec, but certainly not red.

Work and Expertise

Even among the first wineries, many were convinced of the impossibility of making red wine in the province. Mentality changed slowly. People noticed that with hard work, the expertise of wine making and persistence, good results could be obtained, to the point that today; it is rare to find wineries that do not produce red wine. Indeed, it is less easy than making white wine of which some imperfections can be hidden easier by serving it cold.

A Good Red Wine

At the Vineyard Domaine des Cotes d’Ardoise we always believed in the possibility of making a good red wine, therefore; since the beginning, our production has been always half-half, white wine and red wine. To do that, we grow Gamay (the grape variety of Beaujolais,) Foch, Chélois, De Chaunac, Lucy Kuhlman and a small quantity of a new hybrid variety, the Frontenac.

The future in this domain looks promising. There are numerous people who are attempting to develop a good red grape variety that is resistant to cold and has an early ripeness. The Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University in Ontario along with their research team on cold climate viticulture and the Americans in Minnesota are in the vanguard. Their efforts will surely be rewarded in the near future.


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879, rue Bruce, route 202
Dunham (QC) J0E 1M0

Tel.: 450 295.2020
Fax: 450 295.2309