Up to 1970’s Ontario wines offered very little flavour, aroma, texture and depth. Many scientists involved in viticultural research claimed, falsely as it turned out, that the harsh winters of the province would kill delicate vitis vinifera vines.
A few European mavericks set out to prove them wrong and they did.
Today, Ontario produces outstanding white and red wines of “cool climate” grape varieties, i.e riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir, and of late, even a few that prefer warm weather.
Admittedly, the changing global climate patterns have helped produce fuller bodied wines, but scientific viticulture and viniculture has contributed immensely to improve quality.
The FTA (Free Trade Agreement) with the U S A in 1898 also encouraged wineries to produce better quality, since they realized that without acceptable product their future would be bleak.
While up to 1970’s there were fewer than 30 wineries in the province, today more than 100 exist.
Most of the boutique wineries are new, and owned and managed by enthusiastic, quality-oriented individuals who want to be proud of their wines.
Their wines compete favourably with many world-famous brands in reputable international competitions. In fact, the winning double gold Inniskillin Riesling Icewine contributed largely to the present popularity of Ontario wines.
Here are some of the most successful Ontario boutique wineries:
Closson Chase, Le Clos Jordanne, Flat Rock Cellars, Hidden bench, Calamus, Tawse, Ravine Vineyards, Alvento, Stratus, The Foreign Affair, Fielding estate, Reif, and Vinealand Estates.
Mike Weir, a celebrity Canadian golfer, produces a line of exquisite wines in collaboration with a winery. He sets standards and is deeply involved in blending.
Above wineries products are marketed mainly through the Vintages division of the L C B O, by mail in Ontario only, or in winery stores. This is due to limited volume.
When buying Ontario wines, always consider vintage year. A few in the past 30 years have been poor due to inclement weather.
Here are some of my favourites still available direct from the winery and in some:
Riesling, 2007, Stratus, 200 ml $ 39.95
Sparkling Vidal, 2007, Inniskillin 375 ml $ 69.95
Gewurztraminer, 2008, Featherstone
Riesling, 2004, Marrynissen Estates
Riesling, 2008, Calamus
Riesling, 2007, Fielding Estates
Riesling, 2007, Vineland Estates
Chardonnay, 2007, Mike Weir
Chardonnay Steve Kocis Vineyard, 2007, Closson Chase
Chardonnay Aberdeen Vineyard, 2007, Closson Chase
Chardonnay Le Grand Clos, 2007, Le Clos Jordanne
Chardonnay, 2007, Flat Rock Cellars
Rusty Shed Chardonnay, 2007, Flat Rock Cellars
Twisted, 2008, Flat Rock Cellars
Estate Chardonnay, 2007, Hidden Bench Estate
Locust Lane Vineyard Riesling, 2007, Hidden Bench Estate
Gewürztraminer, 2007, Tawse Estates
Semi-Dry Riesling, 2007, Tawse Estates
Misek Vineyard Riesling, 2008, Tawse Estates
Quary Road Chardonnay, 2007, Tawse Estates
Vinemount Riesling, 2007, Calamus
Barrel Aged Chardonnay, 2007, Calamus
Chardonnay, 2008, Ravine Vineyard
Viognier, 2007, Alvento
Reserve Chardonnay, 206, Reif Estates
Kerner, 2008, Reif estates
Chardonnay, 2007, Lailey Vineyards
Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay, 2006, Lailey Vineyards
Riesling, 2007, Lailey Vineyards
Lailey Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc Fume, 2006, Lailey Vineyards
Riesling, 208, Stratus
Chardonnay, 2007, Stratus
Riesling, 2007, Foreign Affair Vineyards
Riesling, 2008, Foreign Affair Vineyards
French oak Chardonnay, 2007, Marynissen Estates
Riesling, 2007, Marynissen Estates
Old Vines Riesling, 2008, Featherstone
Canadian Oak Chardonnay, 2008, Featherstone
Gewurztramienr, 2008, Featherstone
Rosehall Run Chardonnay, 2007, Rosehall Run Vineyards
St. Urban Riesling, 2007, Vineland Estates
Semi-dry Riesling, 2008, Vineland Estates
Pinto Blanc, 2006, Vineland Estates
Chenin Blanc, 2006, Vineland Estates
Poetice Chardonnay 2007, Southbrook Vineyards
Poetica Chardonnay, 2006, Southbrook Vineyards
Chardonnay, 2007, Southbrook Vineyards
Sauvignon Blanc, 2007, Southbrook Vineyards