Appellation STATS

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Appellation Wines

Common Varieties    Cabernet Franc    Riesling

Appellation OVERVIEW

The South Islands are the nine islands that comprise the municipality of the Town of Pelee Island and are part of the Lake Erie North Shore appellation. South Islands was declared a sub-appellation in July 2015.


South Islands - pelee-island

Grapes are grown on the largest island, Pelee, which is approximately 10 000 acres in total land area and situated at Canada’s most southerly point of latitude of N41°45’. Located in Lake Erie about 20 kilometres off the shoreline, South Islands enjoys the longest growing season of any wine appellation in Canada.

Warm breezes off of Lake Erie moderate summer and fall temperatures, with harvest usually beginning two to three weeks earlier than in the other regions – often in August. The long, warm growing season favours some varieties that are unusual for Ontario, including Tempranillo.



The topography of the South Islands sub-appellation is simple but ideal for ensuring even sun exposure and ripening. The highest point is only 12 metres above the lake at an elevation of about 174 metres above sea level.


This sub-appellation has a soil make up very similar to the mainland in southwestern Ontario, sandy loam and clay over a limestone bedrock. The soils here have only moderate drainage due to the underlying bedrock but dry out later in the season as dry conditions often prevail later in the season. The majority of vineyards are planted on the southwestern corner and centre of the main island, where the soils are the deepest and allow for root systems to properly set.


South Islands has been characterized as humid-continental, with warm summers and cool winters. As the shallowest of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie warms quickly and has the warmest surface temperature of the five lakes. This warms the islands during the spring, summer and fall, and contributes to the exceptionally long growing season, sometimes thirty days more than on the mainland. This makes South Islands Ontario’s best location for long seasons and late ripening grapes.

Notable Features

Pelee Island is the site of Canada’s first commercial winery, VinVilla, which began operations in 1866. A hundred years later, its vineyards of native grapes were replanted with premium Vitis Vinifera vines.

Wine personalities

The South Islands are home to a unique natural environment and microclimate that is ideal for vineyards as well as many species of flora and fauna that are not found elsewhere in Canada. 

Wines reflect their island origin – dried fruits with firm supporting tannins in the reds and tropical, floral and fruit flavours highlighted in the whites.

Aerial view of a vineyard in southern Ontario


Located at a latitude of approximately N42° and stretching along the bow-shaped shoreline of Lake Erie from Amherstburg to just east of St. Thomas, including the South Islands, the Lake Erie North Shore appellation encompasses the vineyards in the southwestern extremity of Ontario.

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