Lighting the way from vine to wine to glass. From the vineyards, to the rooftops, to sharing the spark of our passion for the art of winemaking wine, read on to see how we are letting the light lead the way.

From Vine – Sunshine in the Vineyards

The moderating effect of the climate, and its location along the 42nd north parallel (similar to that of French Riviera, Northern California, southern France and Madrid, Spain) gives Lake Erie North Shore the highest accumulation of heat units in Ontario each summer. This contributes to the high sugars and moderate acid levels of the grape. With its southern exposure complemented by the moderating effect of the lake, and an abundance of sunshine, Lake Erie North Shore experiences an earlier harvest than other parts of Ontario and produces excellent wines.” – Grape Growers of Ontario

That is the sunlight advantage of the Lake Erie North Shore. Take into consideration that Pelee Island is actually in the sub-appellation known as “South Islands”. The latitude here is 41.7745 N.

As for what is a heat unit? A heat unit or GDD – Growing Degree Days are the measure of days where the heat accumulation needed for a crop to reach maturity to be harvested occur. Basically, it uses the average of the daily maximum and minimum temperatures compared to a base temperature. The South Island GDD is 1,591 which puts us in the category of high yield and good quality.

Sunshine’s direct effect on the grapes depends on how much exposure the grapes get to sunlight. Too little and the sugar will not develop enough and the grapes will be too acidic. Too much and sugar levels rise too high. This is important to watch during the late summer around peak ripening time.

The right balance of sun, from seven to nine hours a day, will give the vines a full range of exposure as the sun travels its path across the sky. It also warrants enough time for the nutrients from sun to grow a healthy crop.

To Wine – Shining From the Rooftops

📸 Jon Gillies, Iron Street Studio

If you’ve paid us a visit recently and looked up, you may have noticed our shimmering rooftops at our winery facility in Kingsville. Pelee Island Winery has two rooftop solar units under different programs. The 2013, the FIT Rooftop Solar Program. This power is sold directly to the grid (Hydro One). And in 2020, the Net Metering Solar Program. This is similar to FIT, as our hydro meter “spins backwards” for electricity we generate. The two programs are administered slightly different, but the net result is the same – Co2 is offset by on-site generation.

“We generate the renewable offset of 57% of the electricity that we consume. This is the equivalent energy savings of planting 1333 acres of trees annually“, shares -Tim Charisse, Winemaker.

It’s also the equivalent of 1,333 acres of trees planted and the reduction of 13,644 barrels of crude oil consumed. Working with the sun in this way feels like a full circle approach enabling us to give back what we utilize.

Pelee Island Winery glass of Vinedressers Chardonnay VQA Ontario sustainable wine lighting the way from vine to wine to glass over Lake Erie on Pelee Island Ontario

To Glass – Cheers!

That moment of hearing the glasses clink in “Cheers” is the moment we light up. It’s when we get to share our love of winemaking with you.

The last year and a half we have constantly been inspired by your enthusiasm for our efforts towards sustainability. You joining in these efforts along with your feedback and support of giving back, fuels us to keep our course in that direction.

And one last final shout out to our own rays of light, our team members. From the long days of dedication in the vineyard, the behind the scenes office work, collaborating and supporting community partners, dedication to the craft of winemaking and the most recent 100% Customer Service score from the Wine Country Ontario Secret Shoppers program for our front of house team. Cheers to everyone’s contributions along the journey lighting the way from vine to wine to glass.


Read more about our vineyard and winery practices as a Sustainable Winemaking Ontario certified in our blogs Sustainable Winemaking and Summer Lovin’ Sustainable Style.

Pssttt… Don’t forget! While you’re here to sign up for our Birthday Club and receive a $20 Gift Voucher for your birthday!