Toronto is a marvelous city. Aside from being attractive and well kempt, it is very ethnically diverse. It turns out that there’s quite a large Brazilian and Portuguese community. While perusing one of the local Portuguese language papers, Sol Português, Hegui came across a few intriguing ads that referred to some markets for purchasing California grapes for home wine making. Amazing! We’d thought that with the dramatic rise of California wine that those days of shipping grapes back East was long over. Well, apparently not.
Naturally, this was not something that could be missed so we sought out one of these shops to do some “field research.” Eventually, we ended up at the Riverview Produce Inc. warehouse at 50 Alma Ave.
The place didn’t look like much: sort of like a run down dump infested with fruit flies, really. But there were some people there and once we got closer, we could see that it was packed floor to ceiling with crates of California wine grapes! We talked with a patron of the shop who happened to be there at the time with her husband. Apparently they grow Portuguese grape varieties in their back yard in Toronto but use the California grapes to give their homemade wine “more body.” The couple purchased several crates of red grapes and had Riverview Produce de-stem and crush them right there. They left with about three five gallon buckets of juice and had about the same amount of juice from their homegrown grapes. It seemed like a lot and we were curious about how many bottles of wine they ended up with when all was said and done. Hegui then had a funny discussion with her that I’ll paraphrase here:
Hegui: About how much wine do you make?
Woman: I serve it for guests. I only drink a little bit. He (pointing to her husband who was overseeing the grape crush) cannot drink any more.
Hegui: But how much wine do you make?
Woman: We serve it to guests.
She never did quite answer how much her family makes, though that’s a wine I’d really enjoy trying.
The company offers more than twenty varieties of both white and red wine grapes. They also sell corks, bottles, etc. for the home wine maker. Homemade wine might not be for everyone, but if you’re in Toronto and want to give it a try, check out Riverview Produce.