Travel Tuesday - Wine Country Ontario

The Wine Bloggers Conference was the first weekend in June and I still have tons of content in my notes and in my head from the time I spent in Penticton, British Columbia. Canada really put their best foot forward with the conference and with the wines. I was so impressed with everything and really gained an appreciation for Canadian wine outside of ice wine. Although ice wine is definitely to be appreciated.

Wine is made in quite a few provinces in Canada and of course we couldn’t travel to them all, so Wine Country Ontario came to us. Wine Country Ontario is a cool climate region, about the same latitude as Burgundy, France. Cool climate regions, with their daily temperature fluctuations, create the perfect conditions for the balance between fruit, acidity and alcohol. Cooler climate wines are also found to be a bit lighter and more expressive, which lends to refreshing flavors and easy food pairings. The soil of Ontario varies from clay to sand to rock with a bit of limestone thrown in for good measure, also very similar to Burgundy. The 3 great lakes that surround Ontario vineyards (Ontario, Erie, Huron) help to moderate the temperatures during the winter and summer months.

There are 4 primary Viticultural Areas (VAs) in Ontario: Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore, Pelee Island and Prince Edward County. Most grape varieties grown here include the traditional species vitis vinifera, but Wine Country Ontario also has developed a few hybrid varieties that grow well during the frigid winter months. The core white varietals are Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. Core reds: Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Baco Noir, and Gamay Noir.

Between stopping at the wine shops for a quick taste and our official tastings, I sampled wines from the following: Rosehall Run, Magnotta Winery, Cornerstone Estate Winery, Inniskillin Niagara Estate Wines, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate, and Peller Estates Winery. Whew…and this was just Ontario! I was already familiar with Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs from their ice wines, so it was nice to have their ’regular’ wines to see how they tasted. I was a huge fan of the rose I had from Rosehall Run made of Cabernet Franc grapes, ripe red berry fruit, crisp and refreshing. I smuggled a bottle in my suitcase. Sssshhhhh, don’t tell!!

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