11/09/2013 10:42 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Weekend wine expo brings quality vino to Montrealers

This weekend marks the third annual la Grande dégustation de Montréal, a two-day wine showcasing event co-presented by the Société des alcools du Québec.

The event wraps up Saturday night at 9 p.m., but until then, the general public can head down to the Bonaventure convention centre for a sampling of wines from around the world.

Industry experts have noted a marked increase in the trend toward organic, sustainable products in recent years.

Sommelier Jessica Harnois says alcohol consumers are looking for quality over quantity these days and are becoming more savvy about what they are drinking and how it’s made.

“Something natural, clean, you feel the fruit, you feel where it’s coming from. So I think that’s why people are going that way. For what you pay, you want to taste something good, not just something with makeup on it,” she says.

Quebecers like to drink, stats show

According to Statistics Canada, Quebecers have become the country's leading consumers of wine. In 2012, the average of-age Quebecer drank $335 worth of wine.

Further data shows Canadian wineries and liquor stores sold $6.5-billion worth of wine during the year ending March 31, 2012, showing a 5.9 per cent increase from the previous year.

It’s big business for the SAQ, the province’s government-controlled liquor board. It reported gross sales of $2.8-billion in the 2011-2012 fiscal year, resulting in net earnings of just under $1-billion.

The SAQ saw a $90-million increase from its preceding fiscal year, and just over three-quarters of that came from wine sales.

Although Quebecers like wine, the province isn’t really known as a wine producer. Sommelier Jessica ​Harnois says that may change soon enough — she’s helping to create a guide on homegrown wine and cheese.

“There is excellent stuff. Rosés, cider, and excellent white wine. Nice acidic ones to start a meal with. A few reds, even bios. It is starting," Harnois says.

"When you think about our cheese 10 years ago, it's not like now. So I think we're going somewhere good with our products in Quebec."

La Grande dégustation de Montréal runs until Saturday at 9 p.m. at the Bonaventure convention centre (800 de la Gauchetière). Entry is $15.