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VQA, Ontario Appellations and Varietals: Oakville Sommelier

Niagara Peninsula VQA Wine
Niagara Peninsula VQA Wine
Niagara Peninsula VQA Wine

I recently presented an overview of Ontario VQA wines for the Oakville Newcomer's Club Wine Group night. We tasted a variety of wines, mostly Niagara Peninsula VQA: Pinot Grigio, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Baco Noir, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Shiraz, and several red blends.

The Vintner's Quality Alliance (VQA) is the Canadian authority that monitors the quality of wine made in Canada and verifies origin. All Ontario wine labelled "VQA" contains wine produced from grapes 100% grown in Ontario, a regional appellation or sub-appellation of Ontario. The VQA also established the "Appellation of Origin" system for Ontario. There are three major appellations (regions) in Ontario, each with its own unique climate, soil, and topography.

Lake Erie North Shore at N42° latitude has a continental climate with the highest number of heat units and longest growing season in Ontario. It includes the southern-most and smallest viticultural area in Canada which has just one winery: Pelee Island at N41° latitude. Common varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Franc.

Niagara Peninsula at N43° latitude has a cool climate with the largest area of vines planted in Canada which includes 60% of the Ontario VQA wineries. It also has the most diverse topography in Canada with many micro-climates and complex soils. Common varietals: Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc.

Prince Edward County (PEC) at N44° latitude has a cool climate and is the northern-most appellation in Ontario. This region is the newest in Ontario, becoming an official appellation in 2007, and the area is often referred to as "County" for short. Common varietals: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir.

This is what has been happening in Oakville. You can explore Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine & Herb weekends beginning in May. Terroir - A County Wine Celebration! is taking place in Picton on May 25th. Graze the Bench is an annual event full of great wine, food, and music at Beamsville Bench wineries from June 1-2.

So there you have it: VQA, Ontario Appellations and Varietals