Cheers to the Wines of Ontario

In Our Own Backyard

While we're all staying close to home, it's a perfect time to explore our local wines — and support the wonderful makers creating them.

If you're looking for an exceptional wine, there's no need to travel far. Ontario wines run the gamut from subtle and refined to bold and vivacious. Our reputation, first established with our exceptional Icewine, and cemented with our current offerings, has made Ontario a wine region to explore, with wines that stand up proudly beside picks from around the world. When it comes to winemaking, there really is no place like home.

Local Bestsellers

We have over 400 exciting VQA wines at the LCBO. Start discovering our collection with these customer favourites.

 

What is VQA?

It means the wine is made from 100% Ontario-grown grapes, which have been approved through a strict quality assurance program. VQA is the Vintners Quality Alliance, the independent body that monitors Ontario’s appellation of origin system. All wine-producing countries have standards for their best grape-growing regions.Wherever you go, always look for VQA on the label to be sure a wine is made with 100% Ontario grapes. Visit vqaontario.ca  for more information.

 

Regions to Explore

Map of Ontario wine regions. Pelee Island is in the southwest. Lake Erie North Shore is in the centre of the map, north of Lake Erie. Niagara Peninsula is south of Lake Ontario. Prince Edward County is in the northeast.
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Niagara Peninsula

Ontario’s largest and most prolific wine region — the area, south of Lake Ontario, encompasses Niagara Falls and stretches from the Niagara River to Hamilton — is home to more than half of all the wineries in the province. The Niagara Peninsula itself is divided into two main regional appellations: the Niagara Escarpment and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The area’s complex soil, along with the lake’s climate-moderating effect, makes it ideal for growing more than 40 grape varieties, from Riesling and Chardonnay to Cabernet Franc and Pinot Noir.

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Lake Erie North Shore

The region’s location means that it has both the longest growing season in Canada and one of the warmest growing seasons in Ontario. Nestled along the shores of Lake Erie, from Amherstburg to just east of St. Thomas, the area includes one sub-appellation, South Islands, that is home to Pelee Island, the most southerly vineyard in Canada. Pelee Island is also home to Canada’s first commercial winery, Vin Villa, which was founded in 1866.

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Prince Edward County

While still small in terms of overall production, Prince Edward County has a reputation for producing exceptional wines, making it one of the most exciting regions in the province. Long known for being an excellent fruit-producing area, it was officially identified as a VQA region in 2007 and is now one of the province’s fastest-growing regions, with new wineries opening every year. Burgundian varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir do especially well in the limestone soil of this dynamic area.

Fast Facts

Sustainable VQA

As of 2020, 12 wineries are Sustainable Winemaking Ontario Certified, with more to follow.

180+ VQA Wineries

There are more than 180 VQA wineries across Ontario to explore.

18,000

Ontario’s wine industry supports 18,000 direct and related jobs.

Iconic Ontario Reds

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Cabernet Franc

Some wine enthusiasts think Cabernet Franc might be Ontario’s defining red grape.

You’ll Experience: Falling somewhere between Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon in terms of body, this wine has violet and raspberry aromas, along with white pepper and leather.

Try It With: Steak with Strawberry, Cherry Tomato, Black Pepper & Balsamic Salsa

 

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Merlot

Full bodied and well structured, this balanced grape is a global favourite, capable of producing wines that are deeply coloured, richly textured, rounded and approachable.

You’ll Experience: Merlot in Ontario tends to emphasize dark-fruit flavours like blackberry and plum, balancing them out with earthier elements.

Try It With: Grilled Lamb Chops & Tomatoes with Cashew Chimichurri

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Pinot Noir

The classic Burgundian grape is grown the world over but has found a welcoming home in Ontario’s vineyards.

You’ll Experience: Black cherry and strawberry aromas are typical, along with vanilla and, quite often, a touch of clove and earth.

Try It With: Smoked-Gouda & Strawberry-Stuffed Prosciutto-Wrapped Roasted Chicken Breast

Stellar Ontario Whites

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Riesling

Riesling is a versatile grape that can be crafted into a variety of styles, from bone-dry wine to lusciously sweet Icewine to everything in between.

You’ll Experience: When presented as a dry table wine, Ontario Riesling shows all the muscular elegance of the grape’s potential, along with traditional notes like orange blossom and jasmine. When made into Icewine, as it often is, it is redolent with candied pineapple and sweet mandarin.  

Try It With: California Sushi Roll Pizzas

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Chardonnay

Ontario Chardonnay has garnered a great deal of praise lately for its crisp, sharp style and complex elegance.

You’ll Experience: Unoaked styles often display apple, peach and sweet spice flavours, while richer versions offer marzipan and butterscotch lushness.

Try It With: Maple Lemon Grilled Salmon

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Pinot Gris

Light and refreshing, Ontario Pinot Gris (also known as Pinot Grigio) is a serious wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously. A great feature of Pinot Gris is its adaptability. It can be used to craft light, citrusy sippers, as well as richer, more serious versions.

You’ll Experience: Ripe apple and honeydew melon aromas, with a touch of smoky spice, are common.

Try It With: Citrus-Butter Bacon, Crab & Clam Pasta

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A Glass With Your Local Winemakers

 

Meet a few of the people who have helped put Ontario on the map as a world-class producer of award-winning whites and reds. These innovators are creating magic right in our very own backyards.

Shiraz Mottiar
Malivoire Wine Company

Thinking locally is the first step to creating stunning wines for this Niagara winemaker.

Read more about Shiraz Mottiar

Craig McDonald
Wayne Gretzky Estates

 

This local star is capturing the intense flavours of the Niagara Escarpment in every bottle.

read more about Craig McDonald

Lawrence Buhler
House Wine Co. 

Crafting Ontario's favourite house wine – and doing it sustainably – is all in a day's work for this winemaker.

Read more about Lawrence Buhler

Gabriel Demarco
Cave Spring Cellars

 

Working with some of the oldest vines in Canada, winemaking is equal parts art and science at this top winery.

Read more about Gabriel Demarco

Meet Some of  Our Good Partners

At the LCBO, we’re proud to work alongside our good partners to help create a more sustainable Ontario. From strengthening our communities, to protecting the land we all live on, our good partners are just as committed to Ontario as we are.

Rosewood Estates Winery

There’s a good reason for the buzz surrounding Rosewood Winery.

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Château des Charmes

At Château des Charmes, good winemaking practices lead to great wine.

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