Ontario, Canada’s land of sparkling waters, is the second largest province in the nation encompassing, 1.1 million sq. km. The province has a relationship with wine production dating back to the early 1800’s. For nearly two hundred years Ontario’s wine industry has grown and matured by stops-and-starts, never more rapidly than in the last decade or so. The province has three official Designated Viticultural Areas, or DVAs: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island. Together these three regions are responsible for 90% of the grape production. The majority of wineries are found in the southern extreme of the province, beginning in the east between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and running westward as far as Lake Huron. In this part of the province growers take advantage of the moderate climate that is enhanced by the Great Lakes, and fertile soils which have long been home to orchard crops. The resulting fruit is both mature and complex. While production is focused on VQA approved vinifera varietals, there are many wineries that continue to work with ecologically suitable hybrids such as Baco Noir and Marchel Foch. With an industry dedicated to continued improvemnets in quality standards, Ontario wine producers are at last making a mark on the global wine scene.
In the southern Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina and Georgia vineyards are small and few, yet the establishment of the Upper Hiwassee Highlands could bring much more.
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is the Regional Correspondent for Ontario.