It’s 30 Days of VQA!!! To celebrate the love of local and kicking off the growing season Wine Country Ontario began #30DaysOfVQA to promote awareness of the Ontario wine industry. In that same spirit, we’ve created the following for you. A list of 30 fun facts about VQA, Ontario wine and our very own South Islands!

Ontario – where 30 Days of VQA begins…

VQA Ontario wine logo for 30 Days of VQA

1. VQA assures the wine is made from 100% Ontario grown grapes.

2. VQA stands for Vintners Quality Assurance.

3. . VQA is the Ontario Wine Appellation Authority, a regulatory agency responsible for maintaining the integrity of local wine appellations and enforcing winemaking and labelling standards.

4. Wine grape acreage in Ontario is approximately 17,000 acres.

5. Ontario wineries produce approximately 22.2 million litres of wine a year.

Sustainable Winemaking Ontario Certified Winery designation for Pelee Island Winery on Pelee Island.

6. Every bottle of Ontario VQA wine sold in the province generates $98.20 in added value to the Ontario economy.  The total value-add of the Ontario VQA wine industry is approximately $215 million. (WMAO)

7. There are 3 wine appellations in Ontario. Lake Erie North Shore with sub-appellation the South Islands, Niagara Peninsula with 10 sub-appellations and Prince Edward County.

8. 2007 marked the formation of Sustainable Winemaking Ontario certification program. This program recognizes the wineries and growers that are committed to enhancing the environment by using sustainable practices in their wineries and vineyards. In 2017, a third-party audit was added to the program ensuring validity for certification. Read more about our sustainable winemaking practices here.

South Islands – 30 Days of VQA Facts

Pelee Island Winery Vineyards on Pelee Island Ontario wine country taken by Ian Virtue.
📸 Ian Virtue

9. Located in Lake Erie, the South Islands sub-appellation is the 9 islands which are a part of the Township of Pelee Island.

10. Pelee Island is the largest of the 9 islands at approximately 10,000 acres.

11. Climate is characterized as humid continental, with warm summers.

12. The Lake Erie Effect – As the shallowest of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie warms quickly. It has the warmest surface temperature of the five Great Lakes. This warms the islands during the spring, summer and fall, and contributes to the exceptionally long growing season.

13. This makes South Islands Ontario’s best location for long season, late ripening grapes.

Pelee Island – 30 Days of VQA’s most southern stop

Pelee Island, Ontario - Lake Erie, Canada aerial view

14. Pelee Island is Canada’s most southernly inhabited island at 41.7° N, 82.6° W. This makes it further south than Bordeaux and Burgundy, France and similar to Rome, Italy and Humboldt County, California.

15. Elevation: 174 metres above sea level

16. Frost Free Days: 196

17. The above is sometimes thirty days more than on the mainland!

18. Heat Units: 1,591

19. The low‐lying, bowl‐shaped topography of the island bedrock meant that the Toledo soils were wetlands until the island was drained in the 1890s

20. Pelee Island sits on the western flank of the Finlay-Algonquin Arch. That’s a topographical high that ensured the development of a limestone shelf resulting in highly calcareous soils. Dr Gérard Sequin, University of Bordeaux, reported that active calcium carbonate is the one chemical constituent generally associated with wine quality.

Pelee Island Winery organic sustainable vineyards on Pelee Island, Ontario with Viticulturist Bruno Friesen walking through the rows taken by Ian Virtue.
📸 Ian Virtue

21. The soil is sandy loam and Toledo clay over a limestone bedrock.

22. The Toledo soil developed from the weathering of fine‐grained till brought to the island by a glacier ~14,000 years ago.

23. Shallow soils contain black, organic carbon from the decay of former marsh vegetation. As well as recent grape‐leaf litter and cover crops.

24. Fine grained clay minerals are more abundant at further depths. Grapevine roots rely on the reactive surfaces of clay minerals to store both nutrients and water

25. The majority of vineyards are planted on the southwestern corner and centre of the main island. This is where the soils are the deepest and allow for root systems to properly set.

Pelee Island – 30 Days of VQA’s History

Pelee Island Winery Pavilion on Pelee Island, Ontario Canada arial shot with sustainable vineyards and Lake Erie. Taken by Ian Virtue. 30 Days of VQA
📸 Ian Virtue

26. Pelee Island grape planting began in the 1850’s with the establishment of a small vineyard of Catawba grapes by Henry Price.

27. In 1894 L’Empereur Champagne was produced on Pelee island. These days the term “Champagne” may only be used in reference to those sparkling wines from the Champagne region in northeast France made in the Traditional Method. (A law passed in 1927 established this and the first Champagne quality rules.) But today, 126 years later, we can say that in 1894, the first sparkling wine was made in the Traditional Method on Pelee Island.

Pelee Island Winery

28. In 1985, Pelee Island Winery and Vineyards Inc. incorporates both wine making and vineyard

29. Pelee Island Winery has over 700+ acres of vineyards on Pelee Island.

30. Today, over 18 Vinifera varietals grow in Pelee Island Winery’s Ontario Sustainable Winemaking certified vineyards on Pelee Island.

VegeCert certified vegan logo designation for Pelee Island Winery

You can shop online for your favourites here delivered to your door. Call our Kingsville Retail Boutique for Curbside Pickup at 519-733-6551. Shop select LCBO and grocery stores. Or pick some up while grabbing your takeout at your favourite local restaurant.

*Bonus fact – all Pelee Island Winery VQA wines since 2017, are certified vegan friendly by VegeCert.

Cheers to VQA!

Wine Country Ontario VQA Wine Country Guide for 30 Days of VQA

Don’t miss the Explore Ontario Wine Country from home with the NEW 2021/22 Travel Guide
The 2021/22 Wine Country Ontario Travel Guide launched on May 5th! The season’s new Travel Guide is the key to discovering new VQA wineries or revisiting old favourites. You can enjoy a virtual escape to local Ontario VQA wineries across the province and plan your next getaway when it is safe to do so. Click here to see a sneak peek of the new Travel Guide. Or pick up a copy in LCBO Food and Drink Magazine (Early Summer Edition). This year features 142 VQA wineries from across Ontario’s wine regions and welcomes 10 new VQA winery listings!


Terroir of Pelee Island Vineyard, A Case for Pelee Island Appellation Designation – John Slack,
Boreal Agrominerals Inc.

VQA Ontario –

Wine Country Ontario –

View more of Ian Virtue’s Pelee Island photography here.