Think you know the great wine regions of the world? Think again! I have another one for you which has everything a discerning wine tourist could want and more. While thirsty hordes traipse the well trodden wine routes of France, Italy and Spain, of South Africa, the Americas and Australia, I’ve been exploring the vineyards of the Niagara Peninsula in Ontario and discovered an entire world of wines in one easy-to-tour area.
Completely at odds with my (rather stereotyped) mental image of the Canadian climate, the Niagara Peninsula has the perfect weather for growing grapes and making wine. I’m gobsmacked when Allan Schmidt, owner of Vineland Estates Winery, tells me that his winery is at a similar latitude to Burgundy in France – in fact it’s a few hundred miles further south! Although it’s officially a cool climate region, he describes it as ‘Mediterranean summers and Siberian winters’. The two great lakes to the North and the South influence local weather patterns creating the perfect micro-climate to successfully grow a great many different varieties of grapes.
Combine this with a legion of innovative and enthusiastic winemakers who are ‘not bound by tradition so much as inspired by it’ and you’ll understand why you can find such a fabulous range of wines made in the Niagara Pensinsula.