Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Vineyards

We can`t leave our Niagara adventure without a reminder of the vineyards and growing wine production of the Niagara Fruit Belt.  The triangle of land between Lake Ontario, the Niagara Escarpment, and the Niagara River, downstream of Niagara Falls, all with Niagara-on-the-Lake in the corner, is the heart of wine country here.

The narrow belt of land here that has been transformed into numerous vineyards has three advantages for growing grapes.  The combination of cold air drainage down off the Niagara Escarpment and the moderating influence of Lake Ontario both minimize late spring or early fall frost risk.  And the soil is ideal for grapes and tender fruit.

No wonder that this landscape has been transformed into so many vineyards.  It`s an agricultural landscape like none other in Ontario.

In the past the fruit belt was more devoted to peach and other tender fruit orchards.  There are still a fair number of peach orchards around, and we look forward to buying Niagara peaches at the local market every August.  The best place in Canada to grow peaches, it`s said you would have to go as far south as Georgia to find conditions similar to the micro-climate here.

But vineyards continue to take over as varieties that will grow well here are chosen, and Canada gets a growing reputation for its ice wine, the best in the world.

Compared to your average farm field, some vineyards are very carefully maintained.  Straight edges to the cultivation, no weeds, and mowed grass, an endlessly repeated pattern.

I wondered if these darker vines we saw driving through wine country produced red grapes.

And of course they did.  The harvest was mostly over during my visit, so I wonder if these were being left for ice wine.  There are very tricky weather conditions required to produce ice wine, and very careful processing, so it`s always a risk to leave some of the grapes in the hopes those conditions will allow for it this year.

And of course we can`t forget the final product.  We didn`t visit any wineries this time; I was more focussed on the Niagara pictures I`ve shared.  But there are at least 20 in the area, and I saw three major new winery outlets under construction - they tend to be very posh buildings, to provide a suitable home for their expensive offerings!


  1. A visit to a winery is always in order when one is in that area. Great post!

  2. I had no idea that grapes were grown this far north! You learn something new everyday. You'll have to go back and do some wine tasting next time.

  3. Vineyards here do well if there are no late frosts, if in doubt they start the frost fans, usually alerted by wireless sensors that go off when the selected low temperature is reached. 2 or 4 blade, Perkins or Caterpillar engines,10 metre tall tower, and have a centrifugal clutch. I think smudge pots have too much pollution and have been prohibited.So many wineries/vineyards.. have cafes, tasting rooms, restaurants and boutique accommodation. A huge industry. Lovely to know there are vineyards within a drive from you. And your last sentence, I love every word !!!

  4. Oh my goodness those are scrumptious looking grapes. Made my mouth water. Yum! :-)

  5. Catching up on your blog posts of the Niagara area.. We have been to Niagara Falls area (both US side and Canadian side) --but would love to spend more time in that fantastic area.. You have some great pictures showing the bluffs, the rushing waters, etc... AMAZING area. Makes me want to go back...

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. So many wineries there and we have visited a few over the years, great photos as usual.

  7. The grapes looks pretty hanging there.
    I like the rows in between the peach trees.