This is our backyard.
When Paul arrived in Niagara he just knew this place was special. The glacial soils, warm days and cool nights and the lush countryside reminded him of Burgundy where he studied. In the late 1960’s conventional wisdom said that vitis vinifera vines, the European varieties we all now know like Riesling, Merlot, Chardonnay, could not be grown in Niagara. Today we know that not only can vitis vinifera vines grow here, they thrive. And our many awards and accolades are proof!
Since then much has been learned about our little corner of the world. Niagara is the largest and most diverse grape growing area in Canada. It’s shaped like a pizza slice; at its narrowest in the west and widest in the east. The northern edge is the shore line of Lake Ontario. To the south is the Niagara Escarpment and to the east is the Niagara River. Together these significant features define the region and help to shape the local climate. The Niagara Escarpment is approximately 1 million years old. It is such a unique ecosystem that in 1990 UNESCO designated it a World Biosphere Reserve. And in the past 200,000 years several ice ages have left their mark on our region. As the giant ice sheets covered the land and retreated, over and over again, the soil underneath bcame more and more complex and diverse. Soil maps of the area are anything but straight forward. But that’s part of what makes Niagara so interesting for growing fine wine grapes. Add to that the climate. Sitting near 43° latitude Niagara is considered a cool climate viticultural area; like the classic regions of Champagne and Burgundy in France. This means we get winter but we also get beautiful, hot summers with plenty of sunshine. Then, around harvest time, the temperature difference between the day and night is wide enough to allow the grapes to “rest” at night. This is why our wines have beautiful structure, finesse and tremendous aging potential. Not to mention perfect partners with so many types of food. The VQA Ontario website is a terrific place to learn more about Niagara’s unique features.
Dr. Tony Shaw, Professor of Geography at Brock University in St. Catharines, has extensively studied the Niagara Peninsula. He looked at climate and weather patterns, soil composition, topographical features. His work, together with the pioneering work of Prof. Simon Haynes and others, found there were distinct mini-regions or “sub-appellations” in Niagara. So distinct in fact that vines behave differently when planted in these different areas. To learn more about this research and Niagara’s sub-appellations click here.
“Paul-André [Bosc] has his own ideas on terroir, which he presented at the 1999 seminar on "Terroir" at Brock University. This included the first scientific evidence for the existence in the Niagara Peninsula of terroirs at the micro-level of a vineyard.”
—S.J. Haynes; Geology and Wine 2. Geoscience Canada. 2000;27(2)65-87.
Today we farm four vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake totalling 280 acres (110 Ha), located in two distinct sub-appellations – St. David’s Bench and Four Mile Creek.