Vintage Reports

Reports on growing seasons and harvest conditions in Ontario

Vintage Report 2014

Conditions

Weather conditions in Southern Ontario were unusually cold and snowy in the first few months of 2014 and cool prevailed well into spring. January through April brought mean temperatures consistently below normal and several regions saw their coldest spring in the past four decades. Finally, May brought a return to normal temperatures. The sustained winter cold and late spring led to a cautious outlook for the vintage, with grape growers concerned about the potential for winter damage and the relatively late start to the growing season.

May saw slightly more rain than normal for Prince Edward County and Lake Erie North Shore but otherwise normal conditions and gave the vines a chance to settle into the season. Slightly wetter and cooler weather prevailed across most of Ontario for June and July, making for a dreary summer but allowing for a slow, steady maturation of the vines and grapes. By early August, it was apparent that harvest dates would be about 10 days later than normal in all regions. It was also clear by this time that the cold winter would result in some crop reductions for tender varieties but in quite a sporadic pattern. The wide range of outcomes this year underscores the basic principle of appellation – that different combinations of specific locations and specific grape varieties matter.

August was relatively normal, and September finally brought enough sun and warm temperatures to push the grapes to maturity.

Harvest

Harvest began a bit late, but was helped along by a good long stretch of dry and sunny September weather. Prince Edward County was drier than normal, and the other regions about normal for the month. The favourable weather continued into October allowing most of the grapes to ripen and come in before the rather quick onset of colder fall temperatures.

Preliminary registrations for Icewine and Late Harvest grapes show that production is likely to be just over half of that in 2013, with an estimated total of 3850 tonnes of 11 different grape varieties left on the vine after November 15.

Wine Expectations

This year highlighted the craft involved in growing good grapes and making quality wine. Technique and experience play a very important role in getting the best wine to the consumer. Viticulturalists and winemakers are faced with continuous decisions about the care of vines, when and how to prune or pick, grape sorting, time on lees, stainless or oak, varietal or blend, and many, many other things. These are all tailored into a unique combination to yield the best grapes and wine from the vintage.

As is often the case, nature eventually found a balance by the end of the season. Early reports suggest a solid vintage, but perhaps with limited availability for some varietals from some producers. This year was quite variable so each wine is likely to reflect the care and attention of its coach.

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Vintage Report 2013

Conditions

Weather conditions during the 2013 season were quite variable in all of the major wine regions but on average, the temperatures were close to normal and precipitation ranged from normal to a bit wetter than normal.

January and February were relatively mild presenting limited opportunities for the Icewine harvest. Spring was cool and wet ending with some isolated late frosts in Niagara and Prince Edward County and then moving quickly into hot weather. June and July were both warm, with humid periods and stormy conditions appearing often throughout Southern Ontario. Within the trends, there was significant variation between appellations and specific sites. After a wet mid-summer, August brought more stable weather, warm to normal temperatures and less rain and the grapes ripened more or less on schedule.

Harvest

September started with some spotty hail in the Niagara Peninsula causing some minor damage to grapes but progressed into a pleasant, dry month which set the stage for harvest. Temperatures through September and October were slightly higher than normal but October was wet putting pressure on harvest schedules and many wineries worked long hours to optimize harvest strategies around the weather. Lake Erie North Shore was considerably drier than other regions in September and dry through the beginning of October with significant rains holding off until the end of the month. Harvest conditions were generally good. Prince Edward County saw ideal warm and dry conditions for harvest in September progressing to a wetter October. All regions experienced higher than normal daytime temperatures and a higher than usual diurnal shift between daily highs and night time lows. It was a relatively large crop and the harvest window for all regions stretched well into November for many growers and wineries.

Preliminary registrations for Icewine and Late Harvest grapes show 6600 tonnes of grapes netted for the 2013 season. This is a substantial increase from last year’s 5550 tonnes and reflects new plantings coming into production and the larger overall crop in 2013. The year’s tonnage equals the previous record tonnage recorded in 2007. Icewine harvest got off to an early start with temperatures falling below – 8 degrees in all three appellations by November 24th.

Wine Expectations

2013 was an interesting year with some significant weather variations through the growing season. Earlier ripening varieties benefited from good harvest conditions in September. Ontario wines can be expected to play to their cool climate strengths this year – Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir should fare well along with the aromatic whites. The variability of weather may well highlight the unique character of individual appellations, and will certainly differentiate wines from specific vineyards.

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Vintage Report 2012

Conditions

Weather conditions in winter and early spring 2012 were mild across southern Ontario and the wine growing regions. It was particularly warm in March and the vines started the growth cycle early. After a few frost concerns in April, the rest of the spring season was warmer and drier than normal and the crop was already maturing ahead of schedule by the end of June.

The weather continued to be hot and dry starting in early summer. Monthly mean temperatures in June were 3 to 4 degrees above normal across southern Ontario. July was the driest in many years in the Niagara Peninsula and the daytime high temperature surpassed 30 C on 17 days, almost triple the normal. Similar conditions prevailed in Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County but Prince Edward County experienced more normal levels of precipitation. All appellations returned to hot, dry conditions in August and some areas required irrigation to combat the extremely dry weather.

All of this hot weather set the stage for a fast paced growing season, with most grapes ripening a few weeks ahead of a typical vintage. Conditions were close to perfect going into harvest.

Harvest

Harvest began as early as mid-August for some growers, especially in Lake Erie North Shore and for sparkling wine grapes. By September, the main harvest was in full swing and moving quickly. The continued warm days in September meant that most grape varieties were fast achieving ripeness and would need to be harvested in a much tighter time frame than normal. This, and the dictates of scheduling around rainy days, led to an early but very busy season and long days for most winemakers. Harvest conditions varied among the major regions, with Lake Erie North Shore enjoying drier conditions than elsewhere, Prince Edward County receiving significant precipitation and Niagara just slightly wetter than normal.

Harvest reports on grape quality were excellent for all regions.

Preliminary registrations for Icewine and Late Harvest grapes show 5500 tonnes of grapes netted for the 2012 season. This is a substantial increase from last year’s 3650 tonnes and slowly pushing back towards production levels not seen since 2007 when a record of nearly 7000 tonnes was netted.

Wine Expectations

2012 provided wonderful conditions for wine grapes and promises to produce some exceptional wines. Virtually all grape varieties performed well in this growing season and the early and relatively short harvest window meant most grapes were picked in pristine condition. This will be reflected both in the core cool climate varietals Ontario does best and should set the stage for some interesting and less common varietals to show well.

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Vintage Report 2011

Conditions

Weather conditions in winter and early spring 2011 were relatively normal across southern Ontario and the wine growing regions. A few anomalies, including higher precipitation in southwestern Ontario and drier conditions in Prince Edward County were observed. Temperatures dipped slightly below normal in January and some minor winter damage was reported but 2011 began with a normal outlook for the grape crop.

April and May saw a number of weather systems bringing rain to most areas of southern Ontario and a few bouts of severe weather. In the wine regions, precipitation was higher than normal and sunshine hours were lower than normal well into the beginning of June. Although there were no late frosts to disturb the beginning of the season, bud burst was late and by early summer, the crop looked like it was starting the main growing season a week or two behind schedule.

Sporadic storms continued into June, but precipitation levels returned to normal in the wine regions and Niagara was slightly drier. The season began to turnaround with progressively better weather by mid June and July brought sunshine, warmth and beautiful weather for grape growers.

Temperatures hit record levels in many areas, and monthly mean temperatures were 2 to 3 degrees above normal across southern Ontario. July was the driest in many years in the Niagara Peninsula where rain came in sporadic downpours, often leaving some of the Peninsula dry and providing just enough moisture to guard against drought. The various sub-appellations in Niagara experienced over 30° C temperatures from 16-20 days of the month, breaking several temperature records. Other regions saw similar hot conditions, but with more rain in Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island and normal precipitation for Prince Edward County. By the end of July, all regions were back on track towards a normal progression for the growing season. August continued to be warm and slightly drier in both Niagara and Prince Edward County, and warm and slightly wetter in Southwestern Ontario, but nothing like the extremes of July.

Harvest

Harvest began for Sparkling wines in late August and early September and grapes were generally slightly ahead of the normal ripening schedule or right on target. Conditions varied significantly between the main growing regions in September. Temperatures in the Niagara Peninsula continued to be above normal but September rains made harvest scheduling difficult and kept wineries very busy. In Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island, it was both cooler and wetter, challenging wineries with disease pressures in the vineyard and slowing the last stages of ripening. September conditions in Prince Edward County were more favourable, with average temperatures a few degrees above normal and less than normal rainfall.

With the warm summer, most of the earlier ripening varieties were brought in early and in good condition. Wineries were very busy in late September and early October managing the challenges of a rainy harvest season and precision in picking decisions was important this year. Temperatures stayed mild into November and no early frosts appeared to complicate the end of the harvest.

Preliminary registrations for Icewine and Late Harvest grapes show that production is likely to almost double from 2010 but is still substantially lower than the records near 7000 tonnes set through 2006 and 2007. Subject to audit verification, a total of 3650 tonnes have been left hanging for use in Icewine and Late Harvest wines for the 2011 vintage.

Wine Expectations

2011 is shaping up to be an interesting vintage and certainly one where grape growers and winemakers were kept on their toes by the weather. Worries at the beginning of the growing season were countered by nature with the warm summer and a rapid catch up to maturity. Worries at the end of the season were mostly allayed by growers and winemakers through good decisions on vineyard management and timely intervention with the harvest. Although it was a stressful season, brix levels indicate that most grapes reached optimum ripeness, suggesting good potential for the resulting wines.

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Vintage Report 2010

Conditions

Winter and early spring were relatively mild and dry throughout southern Ontario in 2010. Precipitation, both snow and rain, was slightly lower than normal and average temperatures a bit above normal. Bud burst was about two weeks early in all the wine growing regions, mid April in the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island and early May in Prince Edward County. Despite the prevailing warm conditions, Prince Edward County was hit with frost in mid May, resulting in some bud damage but without widespread ill effects.

May was warm and summery with mean temperatures hovering 2° to 3° above normal and a number of high temperature records broken. Early season growth was rapid and healthy. Despite the heat, there was relatively little severe weather.

June saw normal temperatures, higher precipitation and severe weather including four tornadoes in the Lake Erie North Shore appellation at the start and end of the month. Fortunately, for the grape crop, no vineyards sustained any lasting damage.

Severe thunderstorms continued into early July for Lake Erie North Shore but on balance the July weather was hot, sunny and perfect for maturing grapes. Some heavy downpours left enough moisture to cause slight disease pressure in a few locations but generally rain came in healthy amounts and there was lots of sunshine hours to fuel growth. August was warmer and drier than normal in all regions, and included a record low precipitation for Lake Erie North Shore. Conditions could not have been more perfect for ripening grapes and winemakers were very excited about quality prospects heading into harvest.

Harvest

Thanks to the warm season, the grape harvest began approximately two weeks early with sparkling wine grapes harvested in late August. Warm dry conditions in September were ideal and allowed winemakers maximum flexibility to choose the best time for harvest. Consensus reigned in all regions that the 2010 vintage has tremendous potential for all varieties and that it would be a particularly promising year for the longer ripening varieties that are sometimes challenged by Ontario’s climate.

Temperatures cooled gradually into October with a smooth transition from the summer heat to warm days and cool nights and then to cooler mid-teen temperatures by late October. The first frost came in early October for Prince Edward County and some of the cooler sub-appellations in Niagara and gradually over the next two weeks for the remaining appellations. Harvest for table wines was substantially completed by mid October.

Preliminary registrations for Icewine and Late Harvest grapes show that production will remain similar to 2009 and substantially lower than the records near 7000 tonnes set through 2006 and 2007. Subject to audit verification, a total of 1560 tonnes have been left hanging for use in Icewine and Late Harvest wines for the 2010 vintage.

Wine Expectations

2010 should be a great vintage, possibly the best of the decade. All of the conditions aligned favourably for this growing season and there were virtually no negative impact from Mother Nature. Look for wines that express the maturity and balance of the 2010 season and show all that the developing terroirs of Ontario’s appellations are capable of. Every variety has an opportunity to show well this year.

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Vintage Report 2009

Conditions

The 2009 vintage in Ontario’s wine appellations began with a snowy winter and wet spring in most of the wine-growing areas. Except for some winter damage resulting from a cold snap in Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island, the vines came into the growing season in good health. April was rainy and May drier but with slightly cooler than normal temperatures bringing a slow steady start to flowering.

The summer saw normal temperatures and precipitation overall but the weather in July and August was starkly different. July was cold and rainy with high precipitation in Prince Edward County and Niagara Peninsula. Average temperatures were 2 to 3° C lower than normal across Southern Ontario.

August started out with rain and normal temperatures but by the end of the month the sun and warmth returned. By the third week in August, it looked like the grapes would need a week or two of extra ripening time to fully mature.

Warmer temperatures and sustained sunshine from late August through September made all the difference. Dry, warm and sunny conditions prevailed for almost a month, pushed ripening along, and harvest began just a few days later than normal.

Harvest

The warm dry conditions in September were ideal for harvest. White varieties and some earlier ripening red varieties were harvested throughout the month and winemakers were pleased with the quality of the grapes coming in. Concerns about the effects of the cool summer months seemed to dissipate quickly with the long stretch of sun in September.

October brought widely diverse circumstances within a normal average. Temperatures cooled off quickly in early October, with isolated frost and precipitation interrupting harvest. Wetter conditions marked October in Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island. Warmer temperatures followed, and harvest picked up quickly, but large week to week variations in temperature occured throughout the month. Many of the later ripening varieties remained on the vine at the end of October.

Harvest continued into November for later ripening reds. By mid-month, the weather became more hospitable and the last of the harvest for table wines was completed by mid to late November.

It is too early to predict the quality of Late Harvest and Icewine grapes, but the cool October may help keep grapes left on the vine in good condition. Preliminary reports show that a significantly reduced tonnage of Icewine grapes – 1750 tonnes compared to 6500 tonnes in 2008 – has been registered for the 2009 vintage.

Wine Expectations

2009 should be a good vintage for all of the white varieties at which Ontario excels. Conditions were right for Ontario’s signature Riesling with a clean balance of fruit and racy acidity. The vintage provided excellent potential for Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer – all should be capable of exhibiting the classic cool climate characteristics associated with these varieties.

This vintage is also expected to produce excellent quality Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir, both varieties expressing themselves well in a cooler vintage. 2009 was a bit more challenging for the longer ripening reds – Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. These varieties will have benefited from crop thinning and extra care in the vineyard to ensure the grapes were fully mature at harvest.

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Vintage Report 2008

Conditions

The 2008 vintage growing season was quite variable from one appellation to another. March was cool and wet in all appellations, with record snowfalls recorded in the Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County appellations. This was immediately contrasted with a warmer than normal April and drier conditions in Lake Erie North Shore. May was again cooler in all regions but was notable for the lack of severe spring weather such as thunderstorms. Summer finally arrived in June with warm weather, including some severe weather that produced high winds and hail. Vines fared well through June, getting a good start on the growing season and avoiding the hail damage that affected some of the early season tender fruits such as plums.

Summer months in the Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County saw normal temperatures and much higher precipitation than normal. In the western Ontario appellations of Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island, the situation was quite different with drier conditions, including a record low rainfall for August.

By mid-August, ripening looked to be 7-14 days delayed from what is considered normal in Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County and just a few days behind in Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island.

Temperatures were also warmer than normal for much of June through October in all wine appellations, with record-breaking high temperatures recorded in September and October. The summer saw a number of severe weather events, including thunderstorms, high winds, and hail but no significant damage was inflicted on the wine grape crop. Several powerful tornadoes also occurred in southern Ontario but fortunately not in wine country.

Harvest

September brought improved conditions with welcome warm temperatures and sunny dry weather. Harvest began late in September – and stretched into mid-November. The fall was generally dry, offering good harvest conditions, with just a few notable rainfalls associated with the remnants of tropical storms and hurricanes from the south. The combination of good fall weather and careful thinning of fruit to manage ripening resulted in most grapes reaching ripeness in the October harvest window. After a summer marked by intermittent worry about delayed maturity, sugar levels in most grapes turned out to be in the normal range.

In addition to the regular season harvest, an additional estimated crop of 6000 tonnes was netted and left on the vine for Late Harvest Wines and Icewines. For the 2008 vintage, an abundance of different grape varieties were registered with VQA for late harvest, including Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and 13 other varieties.

Icewine season has just begun with the first harvest taking place on Dec 7, 2008. A very short burst of – 8 temperatures occurred earlier in some areas on November 22 but no Icewine grapes were harvested at that time. It was a notable distinction to the 2008 vintage that the theoretical potential to begin Icewine harvest came while the regular season harvest was still underway.

Wine Expectations

2008 saw some challenges and required careful attention to vineyard management to ensure good quality at harvest. Fortunately, the main summer influence of 2008 – the summer rain – was manageable with leaf and fruit removal to reduce vine foliage and promote fruit ripening and followed by a stretch of excellent fall weather. By harvest, most of the crop was in good shape.

The overall expectation for 2008 is for good potential for white wines, particularly Riesling and Chardonnay and aromatic whites. Traditionally cool climate reds, such as Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir should also show well. Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island strengths will include full bodied wines, such as Cabernet varieties and Chardonnay, which benefited from the dry August in those appellations.

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Vintage Report 2007

Conditions

The 2007 vintage was characterized by warm and dry conditions for most of the growing season. Precipitation was lower than normal throughout southern Ontario, and rain came mostly with severe weather and thunderstorms. Near drought conditions prevailed through the late summer, particularly in the Niagara Peninsula where precipitation levels were less than half of normal in many areas for much of the season. Prince Edward County experienced similar but not quite as dry conditions while Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee lsland enjoyed more normal rain levels once into the late summer and early fall.

Temperatures were also warmer than normal for much of June through October in all wine appellations, with record-breaking high temperatures recorded in September and October. The summer saw a number of severe weather events, including thunderstorms, high winds, and hail but no significant damage was inflicted on the wine grape crop. Several powerful tornadoes also occurred in southern Ontario but fortunately not in wine country.

Harvest

Harvest began early – in late August in Pelee Island and Lake Erie North Shore and for sparkling wine grapes across the province. September and October were warm and relatively drier than normal yielding excellent conditions for harvest. Many wineries took advantage the longer hang times during the warm fall weather to harvest their grapes later at increased sugar levels.

Vines are fully recovered from winter damage sustained in early 2003 and 2005 and are producing fruit at normal crop levels.

In addition to the regular season harvest, an additional estimated crop of 6500 tonnes was netted and left on the vine for Late Harvest Wines and Icewines. For the 2007 vintage, an abundance of different grape varieties were registered with VQA for late harvest, including Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gewurztraminer, Chardonnay and 10 other varieties. Look for continued experimentation with new varieties for Ontario’s strong suit in sweet wines.

Into the early winter, a short and local burst of cold started the Icewine harvest on November 24. Very little volume was produced at this early date and the majority of the Icewine harvest occurred in January and February. With a few months on the vine, moderate losses were experienced due to birds feeding on the crop and continued dehydration. The overall yields were average with a total of 1,171,000 litres of juice produced that is eligible for Icewine.

Wine Expectations

Along with the character determined by the fixed factors of origin, such as soil, the most significant factor shaping 2007 vintage wines is the lack of precipitation. Although drought conditions are sometimes challenging when seeking optimum vine health, low moisture can have a positive impact on the crop. The dry conditions created stress on the vines, forcing them to push their roots deeper for water, reduce the vigour of their foliage and direct maximum energy to fruit production. This results in slightly less fruit overall but more complex and flavourful fruit and excellent wine potential.

With the long warm season, wines made from grapes that benefit from longer ripening times, should show particularly well. Look for full-bodied examples of red varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Some whites, such as Chardonnay, also show good capacity for warmer climate styles of wine.

With a moderate interval to harvest, Icewines will benefit from the dehydrating effects and promise good concentration and complexity in the finished wines.

Overall, the 2007 vintage has excellent prospects to produce high quality wine. As well, with the slightly more than usual variance in weather conditions between regions – even between adjacent sub-appellations when it comes to rain – wineries will be able to showcase the individual character of all of Ontario’s appellations.

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Vintage Report 2006

After two severe winters in 2003 and 2005, the 2006 vintage followed a relatively normal winter for grape growing regions in Ontario. There were no unusually low temperatures nor were there dramatic temperature swings. This allowed the vines to overwinter without damage and set the stage for a good growing season.

Data from the Grape Growers of Ontario shows the tonnage of vinifera grape varieties rebounded strongly, with a total recorded tonnage of vinifera grape varieties of 33,220 tonnes. This is approximately 4 times the tonnage harvested during the crop failure in 2005.

Beginning in April, the growing season brought warm but often rainy and humid conditions. Sunlight hours were slightly less than normal and ripening was delayed in some areas. Harvest was generally conducted later than typical and progressed well into November as winemakers balanced the desire for additional ripeness with weather and vineyard conditions.

Late Harvest and Icewine

As with the regular harvest, the Icewine harvest returned to a full crop. A record tonnage of grapes was registered for Late Harvest and Icewine covering a wide range of varieties. Total tonnage netted was estimated at 7222 tonnes, more than 2½ times the tonnage netted in 2005 and up substantially from the previous record tonnage of 5808 tonnes recorded in 2004.

A warm December and January pushed harvest dates well into 2007 and led to a significant portion of the crop being diverted to late harvest wines or lost to birds and dehydration. One harvest opportunity arose on December 7-8, 2006 but the main harvest did not begin until unusually late in mid-January 2007, and picking continued until February 17, 2007 when the harvest was completed. Harvest and pressing was periodically delayed by long stretches of unsuitably cold temperatures.

As is typical, Vidal grapes provided a large majority of the juice pressed but 16 different vinifera varieties were also pressed for Icewine this year. Yields were slightly below average and sugar levels were good to excellent. Quality is expected to be good.

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Vintage Report 2005

Winter conditions preceding the 2005 season had a major impact on the 2005 grape crop.

In Lake Erie North Shore and Pelee Island, temperatures were moderate and vines over-wintered fairly well. In the Niagara Peninsula, typically the VQA viticultural area with the largest grape production, a severe cold event in January 2005 caused significant bud damage, particularly in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area. Many vineyards saw significantly lower average crop yields and a few did not produce a commercially viable crop. The overall availability of grapes for VQA wines was reduced by an estimated 50% in comparison to a full harvest. Data from the Grape Growers of Ontario shows the tonnage of vinifera grape varieties decreased by approximately two-thirds when compared with the 2004 vintage.

The extent of winter damage varied widely depending on vineyard location, micro climates and the local topography. Grape production from tender varieties such as Merlot and Gewurztraminer was especially affected in areas where vines were still recovering from previous cold weather damage in early 2003. Other popular varieties fared a bit better however, including Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir and Baco Noir. Also on a positive note for wine quality, natural yield limitations resulting from fewer viable buds set the stage for good overall quality at harvest.

Once spring arrived, the primary growing season was excellent with warm and dry conditions. The combination of natural yield restrictions from the winter cold and abundant sunshine throughout the summer months ensured good progress in ripening to September. Harvest began relatively early – late August in Pelee Island and Lake Erie North Shore and mid-September for the Niagara Peninsula. Autumn rain was sporadic during the harvest season, causing delays in picking at some locations but without detriment to the final harvest.

Late Harvest and Icewine

As with the regular harvest, the Icewine harvest was less than one-half of the previous year’s harvest. Very few vinifera grapes were left hanging for Icewine both because of their limited availability and the fear of breakdown due to early ripening. Harvest conditions for Icewine were excellent and the harvest began early in the season. The early harvest protected against excessive deterioration and delivered grapes in good condition and so pressing yields were generally high. Vidal grapes provided a large majority of the juice pressed with the limited availability of juice from vinifera varieties this year.

Total tonnage netted for Late Harvest and Icewine was estimated at 2722 tonnes and total volume of Icewine juice registered was 541,985 litres.

Icewine harvest began on November 24, 2005 and was completed on February 23, 2006. The majority of the crop was picked before January 1, 2006. Yields and sugar levels for both the Late Harvest and Icewine categories were good to excellent and quality is expected to be very good.

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Vintage Report 2004

Winter conditions in 2003 – 2004 were much more favourable than the previous year. This was a key factor in allowing vines to recover from damage sustained in early 2003. Cautious winter and spring pruning set the stage for managing bud damage later in the season.

While the spring and summer of 2004 was generally cool, early autumn growing conditions were ideal for ripening grapes. Hot sunny weather through September and into October resulted in mature grapes, and good quality was achieved in most varieties. Reduced yields were evident in some areas, especially for tender varieties such as Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc as these vines continued to recover from cold temperatures in early 2003.

Late Harvest and Icewine

Harvest conditions for Icewine were excellent and the harvest began relatively early. Juice pressed was also of very good quality with a significant increase in the volume of juice from vinifera varieties.

A record tonnage of grapes was registered for Icewine production, and the production of juice eligible for Icewine hit a record level. Total tonnage netted for Late Harvest and Icewine was estimated at 5808 tonnes and total volume of Icewine juice registered was 900,170 litres.

Icewine harvest began on December 19, 2004 and was completed on January 21, 2005 - a relatively short period given the large volume. Yields were average and sugar levels very good to excellent for both the Late Harvest and Icewine categories and quality is expected to be very good.

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Vintage Report 2003

Winter conditions in early 2003 determined the state of the 2003 harvest. Prolonged cold through January and February and unexpected low temperatures near – 20 degrees Celsius in some areas in early March damaged emerging plant buds. Pruning regimes were adjusted where possible but it was evident early in the growing season that the crop would be significantly reduced in many areas. Bud damage on tender varieties such as Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc was generally severe and crop yields reduced dramatically. In 2003 winter conditions damaged some varieties Other varieties such as Chardonnay, Riesling and Gamay fared better with crop yield more dependent on local conditions and viticultural practices.

While the spring of 2003 was cool, summer growing conditions and the natural yield restrictions helped grapes mature and good quality was achieved in most varieties. Shortly after harvest began in September, a warm spell caused the reappearance of the multi-coloured asian ladybeetle, a vineyard pest. With past experience in dealing with this pest, wineries were able to mitigate its effect by delaying harvest, hand-harvesting and sorting, and taking other preventative measures. Fortunately, the warm weather gave way to cool and relatively dry conditions and the ladybeetles continued on their path to hibernation away from vineyards from mid-harvest onward.

The overall availability of grapes for VQA wines was down an estimated 45% in the 2003 vintage.

Late Harvest and Icewine

Vidal grapes used for Icewine were not as badly affected by the crop shortage and suffered only a minor decrease in availability. Volumes of Icewine juice from vinifera varieties were down substantially. Harvest conditions for Icewine were excellent with a gradual but early decline in temperatures and a consistent cold in January allowed completion of the harvest in a short period in January.

Total tonnage netted for Late Harvest and Icewine was estimated at 3372 tonnes and total volume of Icewine juice registered was 437,671 litres.

Icewine harvest began on January 6, 2004 and steady cold weather resulted in the harvest being completed on January 16, 2004. Yields were slightly above average and sugar levels excellent for both the Late Harvest and Icewine categories and quality is expected to be excellent.

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Vintage Report 2002

The growing season got off to a good start in 2002 but severe drought conditions occurred across Ontario for a second consecutive year during July and August, affecting all viticultural areas. In general, vines prospered with the increased sunlight hours but some drought stress was evident towards the end of the season. Harvest weather was good and most varieties, particularly the later ripening red grapes, ripened well. Aided by the dry season which resulted in smaller and more concentrated berries, sugar levels measured as degrees Brix, were above average for most varieties.

Early indications for the 2002 vintage table wines are excellent for all white and red varietals. Reds in particular will benefit from added concentration and complexity with the enhanced ripeness.

Late Harvest and Icewine

The Icewine harvest for 2002 was conducted in almost perfect conditions. The early and sustained cold weather allowed an early harvest when grapes were in good condition. Minimum bird damage and deterioration was sustained and juice quality was excellent.

Total tonnage netted for Late Harvest and Icewine was estimated at 4089 tonnes – a new record - and total volume of Icewine juice registered was 625,026 litres.

Icewine harvest began on December 4, 2002 and steady cold weather resulted in the harvest being completed on January 28, 2003. All viticultural areas enjoyed an early harvest, with many opportunities for picking Icewine grapes.

Yields for both the Late Harvest and Icewine categories were average and sugar levels excellent. Icewine quality for the 2002 vintage is expected to be excellent.

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