Niagara Peninsula

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The Niagara Peninsula is a distinct geographical region located in southern Ontario. It lies between two of the five Great Lakes – Ontario to the north and Erie to the south. Its eastern boundary is defined by the Niagara River, while the Niagara Escarpment, a heavily forested topographical feature that is considered the backbone of southern Ontario, extends east to west across the Peninsula and beyond.

Niagara is located between 41-degrees and 44-degrees north latitude. Niagara is on the same latitudinal band as Provence and Langeudoc-Roussillon in France, the Chianti Classico region in Italy and the Rioja region in Spain. In North America, the same latitudinal band runs through Oregon State’s wine region, California’s Mendocino Valley at its southernmost border, and Washington State’s Yakima Valley at its northernmost border.

Monthly temperatures in Niagara are similar to those in Bordeaux and Burgundy in France. The moderating effects of Lakes Ontario and Erie, and the protective influence of the Niagara Escarpment, creates an area of moderate temperatures during spring and summer growing seasons. Its rich and fertile soils and unique microclimate are suitable for growing Vitis vinifera grapes, making Niagara a prime grape-growing region. Niagara has 13,600 acres under vine. The grape growing area stretches from Niagara-on-the-Lake in the east to Grimsby in the west.

Sub-Appellations within the Niagara Peninsula 
(Reprinted with permission from VQA Ontario) 

As a result of decades of grape growing experience and extensive research, ten unique growing areas within the Niagara Peninsula have been identified. These sub-appellations include areas on the plains close to Lake Ontario and the benchlands of the Niagara Escarpment. 

Wines owe their character to a combination of origin and the winemaker’s art. Together, they give us wines that are unique from the different appellations

subappellations map

 click on map to enlarge

Only wines made from 100% grapes grown in a sub-appellation are permitted to make the corresponding claim of origin on the label. In addition to sub-appellations, two regions have been created to regulate the use of widely recognized names – Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Escarpment. Niagara-on-the-Lake may appear on the label of a wine sourced from the growing area east of St. Catharines and Niagara Escarpment may be used on wines sourced along the bench area west of St. Catharines. To use these regional designations, at least 85% of the grapes used must come from the named area, with the balance grown in the Niagara Peninsula.

Origin may be further specified by one of the following sub-appellations if 100% of the grapes used originate from the stated sub-appellation.

Beamsville Bench      Creek Shores
Four Mile Creek      Lincoln Lakeshore
Niagara Lakeshore      Niagara River
Short Hills Bench      St. David's Bench
Twenty Mile Bench      Vinemount Ridge
Niagara Escarpment