Ontario's Wine Story: A Toast to Tradition & Taste

Wine 101 Product Exploration Estates & Wineries

Ontario's Wine Story: A Toast to Tradition & Taste

Red, White and Rose wine toasting in front of wine barrels.

As the autumn leaves turn and the air gets crisper, there's nothing more delightful than unwinding with a glass of wine that tells a tale of the land it's from. From the charming vineyards of Prince Edward County to the pioneering spirit of Niagara wineries, like Inniskillin, our wine landscape is a treasure trove of elegant flavours and captivating stories. So, if you’re searching for new wines to try, the unique world of Ontario wines awaits! 

At Wine Rack, you can discover Ontario’s great wine regions, like the beautiful region of Niagara, home to Jackson-Triggs, Canada’s award-winning winery. We have an amazing assortment of local wines, so finding new favourites has never been easier. But before we explore some of Ontario’s best wineries, let’s dive into Ontario’s wine story and what makes our terroir so special. 

Ontario's Wine Heritage: An Expression of Terroir 

Ontario's cool climate not only makes for beautiful snowy winters but also for producing some of the most exciting wines. Ontario has a unique terroir characterized by the 3Ls: 

  1. Latitude: Situated at 41° to 44° North, Ontario shares the same latitude as other famous wine regions, like Tuscany in Northern Italy.
  2. Lakes: Ontario’s vineyards are located near the Great Lakes – Ontario, Erie, and Huron. The proximity to the lakes helps moderate the extreme temperatures of our continental climate, which is ideal for grape cultivation. 
  3. Limestone: The soils in the Great Lakes basin contain a variety of sand, clay, rock, and a high concentration of limestone, which gives nutrients and minerals to our grapes.  

The Art of Grape Harvesting: Wine 101

Two Women Walking through Vineyard with Red Wine in Fall. 

As autumn graces Ontario, it heralds the grape harvest season – a time of anticipation and precision. This exciting and crucially important process happens for a grower, viticulturist, or winemaker each year, and grape harvest season takes place over 2 months. In the Northern hemispheres, it’s typically between September to November.  

Weather plays a crucial role during harvest season. A potential heat wave or rain shower can move up or postpone harvesting. Weeks leading up to harvest, viticulturists and harvesters work around the clock by sampling and checking the grapes. This may be the busiest time of year, but nurturing grapevines is an all-year-round job with care and commitment that extends through the winter and spring months right through to the next harvest in the fall.  

Most grape varieties are harvested when the Brix is between 20 to 25. “Brix” refers to the measurement of sugar and is determined using advanced tools, including a refractometer and hydrometer. Once the grapes are ready, hand-harvesting is the preferred method of picking to ensure optimal quality. Knives or shears are used manually or electrically to cut whole bunches of grapes at a time, allowing for underripe or damaged clusters to be identified and discarded.  

The best wines owe their taste to the diligent year-round attentiveness of growers and winemakers, ensuring only the choicest grapes make the cut. It’s this care and quality from the vineyard straight through to the bottling that shines through each glass. 

Ontario’s Wineries: From Niagara to Prince Edward County 

The cool climate of our Ontario home makes it possible to produce elegant wines. From Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin to Sandbanks, each of these wineries offers unique experiences, including tours, tastings, culinary delights, and of course, exceptional wines. We’re bringing you to Ontario’s wine country! 

Discover Jackson-Triggs: One of Canada’s Favourite Wines 

White, Red, Rose, and Sparkling Wine paired with a charcuterie board, and burger with a bottle of Jackson Triggs Bourbon Barrel Aged Merlot.

Located in the beautiful wine region of Niagara where the Niagara River meets Lake Ontario, Jackson-Triggs is Canada’s award-winning winery. From tours and tastings to musical experiences, there’s always something legendary to find at Jackson-Triggs. Come and taste the difference! Here are some sip-worthy favourites available at your neighbourhood Wine Rack:  

Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Chardonnay: Powerful and bold with lush flavours of tropical and citrus fruits and warm undertones of caramel and vanilla. Beautifully balanced with a fresh acidity and a lengthy creamy finish. 

Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Red Meritage: Fruit forward, with generous notes of juicy red fruit, blueberry, smoke, vanilla, and cherries. Well-structured with silky tannins and a smooth mouthfeel, this full-bodied blend offers a lasting finish and hints of coffee and vanilla. 

Jackson-Triggs Entourage Grand Reserve Brut: Aged "en tirage" for more than three years, this beautiful Brut boasts hints of red apple peel, nectarines, dried apricots, toasty pastry, and citrus zest. On the palate, it exhibits a tight mineral structure and elegant balance. 

Discover Inniskillin: Niagara’s First Estate Winery Post-Prohibition

Inniskillin White and Rose Wine in front of wine barrels.

Getting lost in a vineyard isn’t such a bad place to be when you’re here. The “here” we’re referring to is Inniskillin, the winery that put Canadian wine on the international map. Situated in Niagara-on-the-Lake, visitors flock to this picturesque place where memories are made and an obsession for crafting award-winning wines and Icewines continues. You can find top wines from Inniskillin at Wine Rack, including these popular bottles:  

Inniskillin Discovery Series P3: A rich, smooth, unique blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Petit Verdot. This wine features delicate notes of white florals, juicy strawberries, and rhubarb with a solid structure and a long fruit-driven finish. 

Inniskillin Reserve Pinot Gris: An abundance of juicy stone fruit; peach, apple and delicate floral notes are complemented beautifully by bright citrus flavours that balance the full and rich palate and crisp acidity. 

Inniskillin Vidal Icewine: Experience intense aromas of mango, apricot, and honey, beautifully integrated with flavours of peach and candied brown sugar, held together by crisp acidity. 

Discover Sandbanks: The Charming & Vibrant Spirit of Prince Edward County 

Friends enjoying the Sandbanks Winery with a glass of wine on a swingset.

One of the first female-founded wineries in the heart of Prince Edward County, Sandbanks creates beautiful wines and experiences that bring people together. The climate at Sandbanks is perfect for hybrid wines, and given their closeness to the shores of Lake Ontario, Baco Noir was selected and planted as the main varietal at the winery. To this day, Sandbanks Baco Noir remains their best-selling wine.  

Smooth, fruity, and very approachable, you can discover a lineup of affordable Sandbanks wines at Wine Rack. Here are some amazing classics to try:  

Sandbanks Sleeping Giant Foch-Baco: This beautiful red wine is rich and rustic, offering aromas of dark plums, vanilla, and toasted oak. The palate offers balanced acidity, soft tannins, and rich dark fruit character.  

Sandbanks Reserve Baco Noir: Aged in American oak barrels, this red wine is full-bodied with intense fruit, notes of blackberry, chocolate, and toasty oak on the finish.  

Sandbanks Pinot Grigio: This refreshing white wine is dry, medium-bodied, and smooth. With deep pear notes, leading into citrus and a hint of melon, it’s a true crowd-pleaser! 

Bring the Taste of Wine Country Home

Couple enjoying a glass of Sandbanks Reserve Baco Noir VQA with their feet up by their fireplace.

Why travel miles when the essence of Ontario's vineyards can be experienced right at your doorstep? Wine Rack is your gateway to Ontario’s wine legacy, and you can discover a delicious assortment from Ontario’s great wineries. From bold red wines and crisp white wines to sparkling wines and Icewines, it’s a celebration of taste and tradition. Shop award-winning wines from wineries like Inniskillin and Jackson-Triggs, or discover smooth, fruity, and locally grown wines from Sandbanks.  

With Wine Rack, it’s easy to find quality local wines to suit your taste and budget! And with wine deals offered every month, you can also save big on select purchases. If you need a recommendation, we’re there to help. Think of Wine Rack as your local wine expert. A place to shop the largest assortment of exclusive wines at unbeatable prices, including favourites from Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin to Sandbanks. With a wide selection both in-store and online, you can enjoy a convenient and easy-to-find shopping experience anytime you visit. Cheers to bringing the taste of wine country home at a great price!  

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