About the Wine of Niagara

The Niagara Peninsula is recognized globally as an outstanding wine producing region. With complex glacial soils and a climate similar to that of Burgundy, the Loire Valley, Oregon and New Zealand, the region is ideal for growing grapes.

Niagara is located between 41-degrees and 44-degrees north latitude. Niagara is on the same latitudinal band as Provence and Langeudoc-Roussillon (France), Chianti Classico (Italy), Rioja (Spain), Oregon (USA), Mendocino Valley (Calif., USA) and Yakima Valley (Washington, USA). Wines grown in such temperate climates can produce superior fruit, with more complexity and intense flavours than in warmer climates.

Niagara temperatures are similar to those of Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. The moderating effects of Lake Ontario and the Niagara Escarpment create an area of moderate temperatures during spring and summer growing seasons. Its rich, fertile soils and unique micro-climate are suitable for growing Vitis vinifera grapes, making Niagara a prime grape-growing region.

The Niagara Escarpment acts as a large reflector of breezes rolling off Lake Ontario, re-directing them back toward the lake and through the vineyards below. Active air flow prevents cold air from settling into low-lying areas and early freezing. In spring, this effect delays the development of grape buds, protecting them from late spring frosts. In the fall, the escarpment effect protects the grapes from early fall frosts, extending the growing season.

Sub-appellations of the Niagara Peninsula Wine Region

The Niagara Peninsula is the largest viticulture area in Canada, accounting for almost three-quarters of Canada’s grape-growing volume. Ten unique growing areas or sub-appellations within the Niagara Peninsula have been identified including areas on the plains close to Lake Ontario and the bench lands of the Niagara Escarpment. In addition to sub-appellations, two “super-appellations” have been created to regulate the use of widely recognized names:  Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Escarpment. Approximately 75 % of Ontario’s VQA wineries are located in the Niagara Peninsula.
Sub-appellations of the Niagara Peninsula Wine Region

other sub-apps

      • Four Mile Creek
      • Beamsville Bench
      • Creek Shores
      • Niagara Lakeshore
      • Short Hills Bench
      • Lincoln Lakeshore
      • Niagara River
      • Twenty Bench
      • Vinemount Ridge
      • St. David’s Bench

Niagara VQA Wines

Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula wine region has gained an international reputation for producing world-class wines. More than twenty (20) varietals are planted across the peninsula’s wine growing region, but none are better than its rieslings and icewines. Some eighty (80) wineries, most VQA certified, dot the north shore of the Niagara Peninsula from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Grimsby.

Niagara is relatively new to the international wine stage. Most vineyards have yet to fully mature, and plenty of experimentation with varietals, soil types, cropping and vinification is being conducted. Resultantly, with the exception of icewine, Niagara’s “niche” in the wine world and its signature wine(s) have yet to be established or recognized internationally.

By all standards, four Niagara varietals stand above the rest – chardonnay, riesling, cabernet-franc and pinot noir.

Niagara’s VQA wineries are as diverse as the wines they produce and range from family-run cottage wineries to industry giants. A little-known fact is that fully three-quarters of Niagara’s best VQA wines are available only at the wineries.

Numerous international awards announce that Niagara’s VQA icewines are the best in the world. The signature Niagara icewine varietals are riesling, cabernet-franc and vidal. However, more than fifteen (15) varietals have been frozen solid and coaxed into those tall, skinny bottles.

The Niagara Peninsula Wine Region also produces excellent VQA sparkling wines (“champagne-style”), late-harvest wines, innumerable blended wines (“meritage”, “rosé”) and a variety of specialty wines including mead, port, fruit & berry wines.**
( ** only grape wines can be VQA certified )

Niagara VQA Varietals

( only grape wines can be VQA certified )

White Wines

widely produced

  • Chardonnay
  • Riesling
  • Gewurztraminer
  • Vidal
  • Sauvignon Blanc
  • Pinot Gris / Grigio

limited production

  • Semillon
  • Chenin Blanc
  • Viognier

Red Wines

widely produced

  • Cabernet Franc
  • Cabernet sauvignon
  • Merlot
  • Pinot Noir
  • Syrah / Shiraz
  • Baco Noir

limited production

  • Gamay
  • Malbec
  • Sangiovese

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