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Canada 17

When one thinks of wine regions, Ontario is not necessarily the first place we think of. Normally we look to places such as Italy and France, but we have great wine growing regions across Canada and Ontario has become one of the fastest growing regions in the Country. There are five main wine growing areas in Ontario: Pelee Island and the north shore of Lake Erie, the Niagara Escarpment, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Prince Edward County and the Greater Toronto Area. We will give an overview of each, but concentrate on one of the newest and fastest growing regions: Prince Edward County. The world’s best wine growing regions lie in what is known as the wine belt, between 41° - 44° North. This belt include areas such as Southern France, Central Italy and Northern California, some of the best known wine regions. Well it might surprise you to know than many areas in southern Ontario also share this same latitude making for ideal grape growing conditions.

Pelee Island and the north shore of Lake Erie

Because of its southern position Pelee Island boasts the longest growing season in Ontario. Indeed Pelee is the southern most point in the whole of Canada. The added addition of the lake breezes make for ideal conditions for producing full-bodied wines. Not only is Pelee a great wine region it is also famous for its beautiful countryside and annual bird and monarch butterfly migrations.

Pelee Island was the home of the first estate winery in Canada. Vin Villa was established back in 1866 and wine making in the area has gone from strength to strength ever since. Today the island has over 500 acres of vines. The north shore of Lake Erie also benefits from the

lake breezes and summer heat and so it too has a long growing season.

It was the earliest and most vibrant commercial

wine area in Canada until the end of the 19th century. Niagara Escarpment

This area is probably most famous as the home of Niagara Falls, but it has so much more to offer, including wine. Because of its location and the surrounding topographical features it has a climate similar to that of Bordeaux, France and Rioja, Spain. The soil in the area is enriched with minerals

resulting in complex wines. The area is also blessed with lots of sun and adequate rainfall making for ideal grape growing conditions.


Niagara-on-the-Lake is world-renowned for its wine. It is also famous for being called the loveliest town in Ontario, winning many awards and accolades. But many of its visitors are here for the wine. The Niagara River provides ideal conditions for wine and many of the wineries can be found along its banks. Most are planted on east facing slopes where the free-draining soils promote deeper penetration for the vines. The river also aids to moderate the climate during the summer months.

Greater Toronto Area

When thinking of wine regions you may not even consider Toronto, however, there are several good wineries in the area, particularly in York region. This is a great area to visit if you want to combine the shopping in Toronto with the wine and food delights the area has to offer.

Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County is located south of Belleville in Quinte Country. Known locally as simply “The County” the area is the newest of all the Ontario wine regions.

Prior to 2001 there were no wineries in the area, however since the first opened its doors that year, more than a dozen have followed suit. This has made it the fastest growing wine region in the whole of Canada. The growth of Prince Edward County’s wine and viticulture industry is nothing short of spectacular and Prince Edward County has officially been designated as Ontario's 4th Designated Viticultural Area (DVA). The area has seen over $30,000,000 invested in the wine making industry. So what makes this area so special? Limestone soil is found in abundance and this provides ideal growing conditions for vitis vinfera vines. These vines are responsible for wines such as Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. In fact many believe that Prince Edward County produces the best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Canada. This is a great accolade considering the areas wine making is really still in its infancy. The rapid growth of The County’s wine region is also due in part to the promotion of the area to potential wineries. Local economic development actively encourages vineyard and winery development and investment. Lots of information is available for download from The County’s website for people and companies who may be looking to invest in the areas growth.

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