These days, the Niagara region, in Ontario, is all about the drink that first brought it international recognition and fame : icewine. Harvested when the true cold of winter hits, yet shining with sunny, heartwarming aromas, this high-priced elixir allowed the fledgling Canadian wine industry, in the 1980s, to show the world something distinctive and delicious. And while there is now a lot more going on in Canadian vineyards, it remains a symbol of success for the national wine industry.
Moving to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, I fully expected to be surrounded by heavenly coffee, fantastic food, killer microbrews, and world-class Pinot noir. Lots of Pinot noir. What I did not expect was to discover a thriving scene of locally produced spirits and liqueurs. A recent trip to Portland’s Distillery Row with some friends opened my eyes to a whole new world of hard drinking.