New Ontario vintners are planting vines in unlikely places and making wine that will warm your indie-loving locavore heart.
(Illustration: Jack Dylan)
In the last five or so years, vineyards have popped up off the beaten track of Ontario’s wine circuit—in Norfolk County (Port Dover), Grey County (Collingwood) and the south of Prince Edward County (Milford). To adapt to the idiosyncrasies of their untested terroirs, trailblazing winemakers are trying out new types of grapes and growing techniques. For example, at the Coffin Ridge winery near Owen Sound, they’re planting hybrid vines, like Marquette and Frontenac, that are designed to survive -34°C winters. To accommodate a growing season that’s two weeks shorter than that of much of the rest of Ontario, the Georgian Hills winery near Collingwood plants early-ripening gamay. And at Burning Kiln, on an old tobacco farm near Port Dover, they’re drying ripe grapes in tobacco kilns to produce the big, flavour-rich reds that generally come from warmer climates. After a few years of experimentation, these small operations are now turning out intriguing, often very good wines, but because the LCBO doesn’t carry small-batch bottlings, you have to order them online or make the pilgrimage to the wineries. Here, nine bottles worth the extra effort.
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