at the same latitude as the Mediterranean The Lake
Erie North Shore Region benefits from it's proximity
to Lake Erie which offers a unique maritime climate
in a continental region. Grape growers in The Lake
Erie North Shore and Pelee Island Designated Viticultural
Areas grow some of the world's finest vinifera and
French hybrid wine grapes that continually and reliably
produce award winning, world class wines, including
naturally produced ice wines.
region is a winemaker's paradise blessed with exceptional
soil conditions and a regional climate which offers
longer sun hours and greater heat units than any other
area in Canada. In fact, geographically speaking,
it is located as far south as northern California
and the Tuscany region of Italy, and further south
than the renowned Bordeaux and Burgundy wine regions
OF THE WINE REGION
Wine making in the Essex County has a proud past,
dating back to the 1860s when three gentlemen farmers
from Kentucky came north looking for winemaking opportunities.
They found them on Pelee Island, just off the shores
of Lake Erie. In 1866 the trio, D.J.Williams, Thomas
Williams and Thaddeus Smith opened Canadas first
commercial estate winery Vin Villa Estates. Soon after,
Pelee Island attracted another wine venture. Two brothers
from England Edward and John Wardoper founded Pelee
Island Wine and Vineyard Company.
By 1890 there were 41 wineries in Canada, 23 of those
were in the corridor between Windsor and Pelee Island.
Grapes had become one of the major crops on the mainland,
as well as Pelee Island. By 1900, Essex was one of
the most important grape production areas in Ontario.
Acreage peaked in 1904 at 1794 acres, and then dropped.
By 1914, there were only 275 commercial acres of grapes,
and less than 50 a few years later.
Although the reasons for this rapid decline are both
diverse and debated, the competition for land for
tobacco production which proved more profitable along
with prohibition fears in the U.S. appear to have
been the main contributing factors.
With the decline of the tobacco industry in North
America, the wine industry is once again flourishing
in Essex County! Commercial wine making returned to
Essex County in the early 80s with the openings
of Pelee Island Winery, Colio Estate Winery and DAngelo
In 1989, Canada adopted a designation system known
as the VQA system (Vintners Quality Alliance) which
was initiated by the winemakers of Ontario in recognition
of the importance of having standards against which
Canadian wines could be measured against the wines
of other countries. The system was modeled after the
French system which is based on origin and identifies
specific geographic areas that have been singled out
as having characteristics favorable to the cultivation
of grapes. Essex County was officially identified
as having two of Ontarios three Designated Viticultural
Areas. The two areas were named Lake Erie North Shore
(mainland) and Pelee Island (Island). The third area
in Ontario is Niagara, there are also 4 DVAs
in British Columbia. Since then, a growing number
of vintners have been reclaiming the soil and the
regions reputation by producing some of Canadas
best wines. Today there are approximately 1,000 acres
of grapes in the Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island
Designated Viticultural Areas.
Erie North Shore Wine Region
Estate Winery - The home of
the 1999 Ontario Grape King, Sal DAngelo.
Small, focused and dedicated to quality are the
traits that continue to make Sal the producer of
some of the finest Canadian wines.
Estate Winery One of
the areas newest wineries, Dennis Sanson has already
won several medals at various wine competitions,
including the all Canadian Wine Championship in
June 2003 and 2004.
Shore Vineyard & Winery
The winery of Harvey and Alma Hollingshead
is located on the shores of Lake Erie. Enjoy the
warmth and hospitality of this family run cottage
winery while sampling their selection of VQA fine
Estate Wines The 2000
Canadian winery of the year. Winemaster Carlo Negri
oversees production of 200,000 cases of wine. His
focus on quality has led to the latest feather in
his cap from Bordeaux France where Carlos
2000 Merlot Reserve was awarded the 2003 Prestige
Trophie from Les Citadelles du Vin, one of
the most prestigious wine competitions in the world.
Island Winery Pelee
Island Winery produces wines with grapes from Canadas
most Southerly grape growing region, Pelee Island.
Operating since 1979, Pelee Island Winery, located
on the mainland, strives to offer the most unique
wine varieties available as a result of the distinctive
climatic and geographic characteristics of their
vineyards on Pelee Island.
Canadas most southerly grape growing region.
The island off the coast of Kingsville in Lake Erie
was also the home of the first winery in the region,
Vin Villa Estates.
Estate Winery Enjoy one
of the newest wineries in the county. Harold Wagner
specializes in fruit wines. He also has an apple
orchard and raises livestock.
Although not officially open to the public, Tony and
Eadie Mastronardi are making large strides in their
new winemaking venture. Look for their wines at local
restaurants and stay tuned for their Grand Opening
Estate Winery Aleksander
Bemben has worked for Pelee Island Winery for 20
years. Now, he and daughter Izabela have opened
their own winery. Their first wines, including a
crisp and fruity Riesling, have been a great success.
Sure to be one of the most impressive wineries in
the area, John and Steve Fancsy's winery is not
yet open to the public but their wines are already
turning heads. Look for their wines in local restaurants
and stay tuned for their Grand Opening.
Shores Estate Winery
- Summer 2006
Colchester Ridge Estate Winery - Summer 2006
Vineyards - Spring 2006
Smith & Wilson Farms - Summer 2006