A diverse terroir
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 temper the cold winter temperatures and cool the vineyards during Ontario’s hot summers. The soils in the Great Lake basin vary from sand to clay to rock, with a high concentration of limestone form an ancient seabed that was exposed over a long period of glacial activity. Limestone is the same basic soil type also shared by Burgundy and other regions of northern France. Some of the vineyards lie flat on former seabed areas; others are perched on hills and benches that formed the ancient shoreline. The topography is ideal for water drainage–since too much water can dilute flavours–and provides nutrients and minerality to the grapes.
Situated on the north shore of Lake Ontario, Niagara has a diverse terroir of sheltered slopes, lakeside vineyards, mixed soils with a limestone base, and a world of character in its wines. The Niagara Escarpment–a limestone bluff that runs the length of the Peninsula – catches the on-shore moderating air from Lake Ontario and circulates it back down over the vineyards, enhancing the ripening of the grapes. Variations in the height of the escarpment and distance from the lake have resulted in the identification of 10 district sub-appellations with varying total heat units over the growing season, measured in degree-days.
The classic cool climate grapes such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Gamay Noir flourish here, and the region now boasts over 32 thriving varieties. The Niagara Peninsula continues to shape a rapidly expanding premium wine segment in Canada as the home to approximately 65% of Ontario’s VQA wineries.
Source: Wine Country Ontario