Ontario draws over 3 million visitors per year for wine tourism alone with breathtaking vistas, culinary adventures and world-class wines.
The Ontario wine and grape industry generates approximately $4.4 billion in economic impact annually and has the largest production of wine grapes and wine in the country.
Wine Country Ontario is situated between 41° and 44° North in the heart of the world’s fine wine zone with most of the province’s vineyards located in the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County. This is the same latitude shared by Northern Italy and many other cool climate wine regions of Europe. Of the three, Niagara Peninsula has the largest planted area of all viticultural areas in Ontario (and all of Canada) and is divided into 10 sub-appellations and has two regional appellations.
The fluctuations in daily temperature over the course of the growing season create conditions critical to achieving a fine balance between acidity, alcohol and fruit expression. Wines from cooler climates are more aromatic, lighter in body and higher in acidity than those from hotter areas, providing refreshment, harmony with food and good ageing potential.
The Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) is recognized as the provincially regulated appellation of origin system in Ontario.
Grapes of the species Vitis vinifera (traditional in European and international winemaking) are the most commonly used in Ontario but there are eight “hybrid” varieties developed by crossing Vitis vinifera varieties with more winter-hardy North American grape species.
Chardonnay and Riesling are the top white vinifera varieties grown and produced as single varieties. The primary red variety that is grown is Cabernet Franc which is also the top red varietal produced. Other core varieties include Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir. The province is a world leader for Icewine, and is gaining increased notoriety for its high-quality table wines and sparkling wines.