The Lake Erie North Shore region of southwestern Ontario was the earliest and most vibrant commercial wine growing area in Canada until the end of the 19th century. Today, as a Designated Viticultural Area (DVA), and with the number of wineries on the rise, Lake Erie North Shore is reestablishing its reputation as one of the country’s best wine regions.
Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and during the growing season its surface temperature is considerably warmer. This, combined with the region’s southerly situation and a higher degree of sunshine hours and heat units, ensures a desirable level of ripeness for well structured and flavored wines. Harvest here can be weeks ahead of other Ontario regions. And good thing, as the shallowness of the lake also means it is the first to cool off in fall, bringing and abrupt end to the growing season. The lake’s shallowness also leads to problems during very cold winters when the lake can freeze over, leaving growers concerned about vine hardiness.
Since Thomas Jefferson first tried to cultivate European vinifera in Virginia, the state has been a decided piece of American wine country. Over the years better knowledge, equipment and materials have all contributed to an advancing wine industry, but the more recent decade or two has brought out the real potential that can be found.
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You are quite a hero in Canada, eh! As Ice Wine, Canadians understand you as much as they understand
is the Regional Correspondent for Lake Erie North Shore.