Ontario is bounded north and south by water – to the north by
Hudson Bay (named after the British explorer Henry Hudson who sailed
there in 1611) and to the south by the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence
River. At 1.1 million square kilometres it is Canada’s second largest
province and its vineyards, surprisingly, lie on the same latitude as
Bordeaux in France and most
northern wine regions (41˚- 44˚).
The province’s major viticultural areas are the Niagara Peninsula,
Pelee Island (the southern-most point of Canada), Lake Erie North
Shore and Prince Edward County. Wines produced in these areas
are at VQA quality.
Broadly speaking the climate is continental, with hot, humid summers
(sometimes accompanied by drought) and winters where temperatures can fall as
low as -20˚C. It is the influence of the Great Lakes and the Hudson
Bay that protect the vines from the worst climactic conditions, by
warming the air in the winter and cooling it in the summer. A ‘cool
climate region’, Ontario’s grapes have the opportunity to
develop more concentrated flavour and a good balance of acidity.
The vast majority of Ontario’s vineyards are to be found near
the old community of Niagara-on-the-Lake. The regions produce wines from
an astounding array of grapes, whose 60-strong selection includes Viognier, Gewürztraminer,
Zweigelt and Pinot Grigio,
Cabernet Franc, Merlot, and Cabernet
Sauvignon, as well as late-harvest Rieslings and Icewines of international