Learn more about Ontario
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 of California’s 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 fame.