Ontario Wine Story - Wine Country Ontario

0 My Destinations


Latitude | A Cool Climate Wine Region

Wine Country Ontario is situated between 41° and 44° North in the heart of the world’s fine wine zone. This is the same latitude shared by Bordeaux and many other cool climate wine regions of Europe. The fluctuations in daily temperature over the course of the growing season create conditions critical to achieving a fine balance between acidity, alcohol and fruit expression. Wines from cooler climates are more aromatic, lighter in body and higher in acidity than those from hotter areas, providing refreshment, harmony with food and good aging potential.

The Growth Cycle

The majority of Canada’s wines come from Ontario’s appellations, where approximately 17,000 acres of wine grape vineyards are planted. As noted earlier, these lie in the south of the province between 41° and 44° North latitude, with cold winters and hot summers moderated by the proximity of the Great Lakes.

Ontario has so far identified three primary Viticultural Areas (VAs) or appellations of origin: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County. Furthermore, within the Niagara Peninsula appellation, decades of grape growing experience and extensive geographic research has identified 10 distinct growing areas. These sub-appellations include areas on the plains close to Lake Ontario and the benchlands of the Niagara Escarpment.

Lakes | Great Lakes System Profile

Stretching across the southern part of the province, Ontario’s vineyards are located near three of the Great Lakes – Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and Lake Huron. The lakes have shaped Ontario’s wine regions and play a major role in moderating the extremes of the region’s continental climate. During the winter the lakes do not freeze, their warmer water helping protect their shoreline vineyards against vine-destroying deep freezes. During the summer their cooler waters moderate heat extremes; 30ºC temperatures are not uncommon.

Limestone | Glacier & Soil

Through the ages Ontario experienced glacial events that shaped and eroded the layers of sedimentary rock and ancient reef structures, creating the Niagara Escarpment, which forms a spine across southern Ontario between Lakes Huron and Ontario. Where it runs along the south shore of Lake Ontario – forming the Niagara Peninsula – there are very complex soil structures. There are gradations and pockets of sand, gravel and clay over limestone bedrock packed into a band between the lake shoreline and the crest of the escarpment. Supporting Niagara’s vineyards and orchards this band runs about 50kms east-west at varying widths. The same glacial events affected Prince Edward County but left a virtual island of limestone bedrock exposed in Lake Ontario, with topsoil less than a metre deep in some places, while on the shore of Lake Erie the limestone runs deeper below mixed sand and clay soils.