Wine Growing in the Southern Georgian Bay Region

If you drive around the Georgian Bay South Shore, you will find two kinds of fruit farms in abundance: apple farms and wine farms. Why exactly only these two fruits grow so well here is a question which requires some explanation, especially because this is the northernmost area of the Ontario fruit belt. We know all about our apples, so let’s concentrate on the wine growing regions.

Imagine a line drawn from the mid-Georgian Bay area drawn straight across the globe along the 44th Latitude. Then draw another line at he 41st Latitude. It may surprise you that the world’s best known wine growing regions are within those two latitudes. Burgundy in France, the Rhein River Valley in Germany, the major wine regions of Portugal, Spain and Italy, the Peloponnes, Amindeon and Santorini regions of Greece, are located within this wine belt.

There is actually a similar “wine belt” in the southern hemisphere, which produces the wines of South Africa, southern South America and Australia. Argentina, Chile, Brazil and Uruguay have wine producing regions. About a dozen South African wines are available in Canada, most at the main LCBO Wine Store on Queens Quay in Toronto. Some South American wines may be available there, too. Some Australian wines may also available from there, or through The Beer Guy Delivery Service who claim that they can deliver any of 18,000 beers, wines and related products to you.

Clay wine bottleSome years ago my then Brother-in-Law who was born in Kulaisi on the Black Sea, presented me with a traditional clay bottle of “Xbahykapa Khvanchkara”, a great red wine from the Georgian wine growing region of Khvanchkaro of his home country, which lies on the 42nd Latitude within the world’s wine belt.

Wine grows at its northernmost range in Ontario in the Georgian Bay area. Climate and soils are most suited for wine. Even if we consider this to be a very cold area in winter, the deep cool water of the Nottawasaga Bay changes slowly and moderates the air temperature, reducing the chance of late spring or early fall frosts. The high Niagara Escarpment protects our area from the south-westerly winds, so that there are two geological features which create a small, but productive, wine growing area. Incidentally, they also make this a most productive apple growing area. Our Bay, and the Great Lakes in general, do not freeze over in the winter, which is also a protection from vine-destroying deep freezes. During the hot summer our Georgian Bay and the Great Lakes have a similar moderating effect. Even at 30 degrees plus it always appears somewhat cooler at the shoreline because of the cold water.

You may also wish to read Uncorked: A Conversation About Wine

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Peter Iden is a resident of Wasaga Beach and a Naturalist and Photographer who has a broad range of knowledge of the natural world. Peter is also a volunteer Warden for the Piping Plover Recovery Programme with the Friends of Nancy Island.


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