Results of the 2023 WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (The Nationals)

Mead, Fruit and Fortified Wines

Category Overview by Judge John Szabo, MS

(Jump straight to the medal winners.)

Although the most representative of Canada from coast to coast, thus appears to be a shrinking category. Products seem to still be struggling to find genuine traction in the on-trade and within professional wine circles, and even at the retail level — try a quick search on the major monopoly sites and you’ll see what I mean. I imagine that the vast majority of these products are sold only directly from the cellar door. 

It’s a shame, considering that the latest generation of Canadians to reach the age of majority seem largely unbound by tradition and Euro-centric wine appreciation, and are open to all manner of innovative beverages from hard seltzers to a multitude of ready-to-drink concoctions. This highly diverse category, often with whimsical labelling, and a don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously attitude, surely has something to offer. But then again, unlike the wine industry, there are few collective marketing efforts to spread the word, with each producer left to wave their own flag in solitude — tough to establish a category under such circumstances.


This year 46 products were submitted to the awards, with 18 medals doled out, including three gold. The successful products are invariably those that reflect the label’s promise; gold medal-winning Maan Farms 2022 raspberry fruit wine from the Fraser, Valley, B.C., for example, also a gold medalist at the 2022 NWACs, is a pure and concentrated essence of raspberry flavour, balanced and well made — what more can one ask for? 

Similarly, Stolen Harvest Meadery’s 2022 Orchard Plum from Alberta, also gold, is a lovely, floral, very plummy, fruit wine with terrific balance between sweetness and pleasantly tannic-bitter plum skin. And lastly, Ve Oh Lay’s Archer gold medal wine, made from honey, cherries, blackberries and plum from Summerland, Okanagan Valley, is a classic poolside sipper, well worth a look. If you’re open to unusual flavours outside of the range that wine provides, this category is for you.

Maan Farms 2022 Raspberry , Fraser Valley, British Columbia
Stolen Harvest Meadery 2022 Orchard Plum, Alberta
Ve Oh Lay Acres Winery N/V Archer, British Columbia

Aspen Grove Meadery Blackberry Mead, Alberta
Howling Bluff 2015 Forbidden Fort Noir, Naramata Bench, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Maan Farms 2022 Blackberry, Fraser Valley, British Columbia
Monte Creek N/V Blueberry , British Columbia
Northern Lights Winery 2022 Seduction Rhubarb/Strawberry, British Columbia
Planters Ridge N/V Valley Nectar, Nova Scotia
Shrugging Doctor Apple Cinnamon Mead, Manitoba
The Joosed Moose Raspberry Kiss, Alberta
Wolf Willow Winery N/V Fruitcake Sweet Vermouth, Saskatchewan

Domaine Ives Hill Créme de Cassis , Quebec
Lake Breeze N/V Cellar Series Chinook, Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
Stolen Harvest Meadery Dandelion,  Alberta
Ve Oh Lay Acres N/V Impulsive, Capricious and Melodramatic, British Columbia