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Ladybugs taint 2001 wine season

Think of the great wine-producing regions of the world... France, Italy, California... but what about Canada? Challenged by climate and perception, Canadian wines suffered from a bad reputation. But winemakers have worked hard to improve the quality of their product. International awards, improved standards and government intervention have transformed the industry. The result? Canadian wines are gaining acceptance throughout the world.

In southern Ontario, 2001 is the year of the ladybug. Many Ontario wines from that vintage are polluted with the smell of Asian ladybugs, a smell that wine writer Konrad Ejbich compares to rancid peanut butter. In an effort to defend the burgeoning reputation of Ontario wines, a million litres of tainted wine are dumped. Many in the industry feel it is better to take a one-year hit than suffer damage to their hard-earned reputation. CBC Radio's The Current speaks with industry experts about the plague.
• Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetles — Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) — are native to the Far East regions of Asia. They were introduced to Louisiana in 1916 to control aphid populations. In cooler weather these ladybugs group together for warmth. While they are harmless to humans, they can be problematic when they feed on late-season fruit crops, such as grapes.

• Some people enjoy the taste of ladybug tainted wines, describing it as "extreme Sauvignon Blanc."
• According to Canadian wine writer Konrad Ejbich, when tasting wine, 90 per cent of the taste is in the smell.

• In 2003 the Canadian wine industry is stronger than it has ever been. Labrusca grapes are rarely used for winemaking and the number of small, premium-quality estate wineries continues to increase. Numerous training programs are now available in Canada to stimulate research in the industry and educate future generations of vintners. With quality assurance standards in place, European markets opening up and an increasingly respected reputation, the world is finally beginning to take notice.
Medium: Radio
Program: The Current
Broadcast Date: Jan. 24, 2003
Guest(s): Konrad Ejbich, Linda Franklin
Host: Bernard St. Laurent
Duration: 13:25
Ladybugs © bierto. Image from BigStockPhoto.com.

Last updated: January 24, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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