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The Niagara Peninsula viticultural area: A climatic analysis of Canada's largest wine region

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A semi-continental climate moderated by two of the Great Lakes coupled with a wide range of mesoclimates, topographies and soils are some of the distinguishing characteristics of the Niagara Peninsula viticultural area. The history of grape cultivation spans over 150 years, while that of wine production using European grape varieties dates back about 30 years. Although Vitis labrusca is still grown commercially, French–American hybrids and French European varieties are used exclusively for table wines. This study examines the topographic and climatic attributes of this cool climate wine region and provides a general comparison of growing season conditions with those of other established wine regions in Europe and North America. Generally, such factors as the growing degree days, monthly mean temperatures, precipitation and sunshine hours compare favourably with France's Bordeaux and Burgundy regions. Nonetheless, as is typical of cooler mid-latitude continental climates, the Niagara Peninsula experiences frequent damaging temperatures in the winter, late spring and early autumn as well as year-to-year variability in growing season conditions. These characteristics together with heavy and poorly drained clay soils constitute the main limitations to viticulture.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, Brock University, St Catharines, Ontario, L2S 3A1, Canada

Publication date: August 1, 2005

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