Baco Noir 101

Baco Noir 101

Hearty, robust and almost ideally suited to our climate and soils, Baco Noir is gaining popularity among wine drinkers in the province and is quickly becoming Ontario’s signature grape.

Sometimes described as a meatier Pinot Noir with all of that grape's ripe cherry and tart raspberry flavours but even more depth, Baco Noir is renowned for its dark fruit, full body, herbal notes and soft, smoky tannins. The contemporary style emphasizes careful management in the vineyard and the balanced use of oak in the winemaking process to create lush, round, full-flavoured wines that are exactly in keeping with the modern palate.

A Brief History of Baco

First bred in France at the turn of the 20th century by François Baco — hence the name — Baco Noir is a cross between Folle Blanche and a native North American Vitis Riparia grape variety. Known for its resilient, hearty character and ability to withstand harsh cold, Baco was planted in Burgundy and the Loire Valley shortly after its discovery and made its way back to the northeastern U.S. and Canada in the 1950s. Today, it's grown everywhere from Nova Scotia to Colorado, but in Ontario, it's one of the most widely planted grapes, and is renowned for its quality.

Ontario’s Leading Producers

As the rest of the world catches on to Baco Noir, people are looking more and more to Ontario’s winemakers to find out the secrets to the grape’s success. We spoke to some of the province’s leading producers to discover what’s behind Baco’s meteoric rise.

Daniel Speck, Henry of Pelham SVP Sales

“Baco Noir is so well-suited to our climate that it produces a juicy red with great consistency. And because it makes a wine that is accessible yet unique and complex, we have truly discovered a wine that mirrors Canada and Canadians. When we sell our wines abroad, it is this one that always gets the most attention. Baco is our international flag-bearer.”

Try Henry of Pelham Baco Noir Old Vines VQA.


Bruce Nicholson, Inniskillin Niagara Winemaker

“Baco Noir produces a food-friendly wine that shows good structure and an abundance of fruit on the nose and palate. I believe Baco Noir has changed to a drier style of wine with more oak influence. Barrel-aging adds subtle aromatics of toasted oak and vanilla, as well as increasing complexity and structure.”

Try Inniskillin Baco Noir VQA.


Sandbanks Winery Owner, Catherine Langlois

“Baco is our flagship. It’s a grape that’s easier to grow in the sense that we don’t have to bury the vines over the winter, but it’s a little harder to make in the cellar. It’s very intense and thick, and has a lot of pigments, so it’s got a lot of fruit flavour but very low tannin — but that means the wine is ready to drink when we put it in the bottle.”

Try Sandbanks Baco Noir VQA.