Summary: Pelee Island Winery, with vineyards established on Pelee Island in Lake Erie, has a large visitor center with the winery on Canada’s mainland in Kingsville, Ontario. Pelee Island Winery also operates a tasting room on the island during the summer.
The mainland Pelee Island Winery tasting room is a large white building with the winery located at the back. The landscaping is delightful. Steps and a ramp lead to the double front doors. Inside, the tasting room and retail area extend across the entire front of the building allowing plenty of space for visitors to amble among the brands of wines that Pelee produces. In addition to wines visitors can enjoy the various gifts for sale. Handcrafted wood butcher blocks are available. An unusual set of wine bottles that set atop of each other is perfect for condiments, wines or snacks. Near the tasting counter at one end of the facility, a large photographic view of Pelee Island allows visitors to see where the Pelee vineyards are located.
Vineyards of Pelee Island
The first vineyards were planted on Pelee Island in 1978/1979 with 85 acres. The winery now has 600 acres of vines on the island with a demonstration vineyard at the winery and main tasting room on the mainland. The major grape varieties growing include Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. The Pelee Island vineyards are Canada’s southernmost vineyards.
Pelee Island offers advantages due to its location in Lake Erie. The grapes on the island bud earlier and therefore the grapes ripen earlier than grapes growing on the mainland.
Pelee Island Winery
Pelee Island Winery is one of Canada’s largest winery producers. Production is approximately 400,000 cases of wine. The winery uses the grapes from Pelee Island and also sources grapes from other vineyard growers.
Tours through the winery will take visitors past large old oak barrel tanks. The heads of some of the barrels have been carved with the names of the winemakers such as Walter Strehn and Josef Strehn in 1983. Past this room, the barrel aging room stores barrels with wine. A small ledge with a decorative wrought iron fence allows visitors on tour to oversee the barrel room.
Our tour proceeded to the winemaking area. Visitors will see tall stainless steel tanks and smaller piggy-back stainless steel tanks. At the time of our visit, the bottling room was busy as several people operated the large bottling line.
We tasted several wines at the U-shaped tasting counter. The counter top is made of stainless steel resembling stainless steel tanks.
Dry Riesling 2010 was a straw colored wine that offered a floral aroma with peach nuances. The taste had peach and melon notes. The finish was crisp with tropical hints. Ontario VQA Gewürztraminer Riesling 2010 offered an aroma that was sweet, fruity and yummy. The taste was fruity. This is an excellent blend. Late Harvest Riesling 2008 was a pale golden color. The fruity aroma and taste had a hint of minerality. The slightly sweet taste had enough acid to make a balanced finish.
Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 had a little Petit Verdot added to form a blend. The label on this bottle is a photo of the staff of the original winery on Pelee Island known as Vin Villa Estates. The photo was taken in the 1860s. The ruby colored wine had blackberry notes with herbal hints. The finish had mild tannins with fruit yielding to spices. Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Pelee Island VQA was ruby with dark fruit aromas and taste. The wine had mild tannins with fruit yielding to spice.
The 2005 Cabernet Franc Icewine offered a strawberry aroma with a strawberry-rhubarb taste. The finish was crisp with a strawberry finish. This is a happy tasting wine.
Enjoy a visit to Pelee Island Winery where one can enjoy wandering through the large tasting room and take a tour of the winery. Notice the many brands of wines and taste the terroir of Pelee Island, Canada’s southernmost vineyards.
Pelee Island Winery
455 Seacliff Drive (County Road #20),
Kingsville, Ontario, Canada N9Y 2K5
GPS: N42º 02.220’ W82º 43.264’
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