Lake Erie North Shore

Appellation Overview

Cool lake breezes, abundance of sunshine, ripe fruit with good balance
View of Lake Erie

Located at a latitude of approximately N42° and stretching along the bow-shaped shoreline of Lake Erie from Amherstburg to just south of St Thomas, the Lake Erie North Shore appellation encompasses the vineyards in the southwestern extremity of Ontario. This favourable southerly location combined with the warming effect of the shallow waters of Lake Erie allow this appellation to enjoy a long growing season and promotes ripe fruit with a perfect balance between natural sweetness and acidity.

Merlot vine leaves, Lake Erie North Shore

Terroir

Topography

Bounded on the northwest side by Lake St. Clair, to the west by the fast flowing Detroit River, with Lake Erie to the South, and including Pelee Island, Lake Erie North Shore appellation is almost completely surrounded by water. Numerous short shallow streams found throughout this appellation flow freely in the spring but often dry down to a trickle in the warm summer. The appellation is made up of long gentle slopes that face in all directions with an elevations ranging from 172 m to 196 m with an average of 185 m. With no major topographic barrier to the prevailing southwesterly winds this appellation enjoys the full effect of the lake breeze that moderates the entire area during the growing season.

Notable Features

Plantings in Lake Erie North Shore are well developed close to the Lake Erie shoreline, where topographic and climatic conditions are particularly favourable and support full and balanced ripening of grapes.

Soil

The soil composition of this appellation was greatly effected by the glacial lakes, which deposited large amounts of unsorted stony materials in the area. When the glacial lakes retreated in other areas, this area remained covered in deep waters for a long time allowing for waves to smooth out the ridges and deposit considerable amounts of sediment. The light-textured, well-drained soils around the lakeshore contain mostly sandy loam and gravel deposits punctuated by small, irregular stony ridges, which overlay shale limestone bedrock.

Climate

Lake Erie North Shore has a long growing season and the highest number of heat units of all of Ontario's viticultural areas. It benefits from the quick summer warming of the shallow waters of Lake Erie as well as from an abundance of sunshine during the growing season. Early harvests are the norm, with picking usually beginning at the end of August and late-harvest often reach their peak by late October.