The topography is relatively flat, with a very gently slope towards the shore of Lake Ontario. The appellation features a large creek – Four Mile Creek – and a few intermittent streams that usually disappear in the height of summer. This simple topography ensures uninterrupted sunlight exposure for grape vines throughout the growing season.
Lake Ontario has a substantial and immediate effect in moderating temperatures along the Niagara Lakeshore. In the summer, cooler lake air replaces rising warm air above the land, reducing daytime temperatures, while at night the reverse effect, with relatively warmer lake air replacing low-lying cool air to keep the air temperatures from falling.
Soils in Niagara Lakeshore consist primarily of glacial and lake deposited clay and silt, and deltaic sands and silts that were deposited on a thick layer of Halton Till that overlays the red Queenston shale bedrock. Reddish-brown sandy soils in areas adjacent to the Lake Ontario shore promote deep root penetration and have low water-holding capacity because they are porous and unconsolidated. Clay loam soils in the centre of this sub-appellation on the other hand, hold moisture for many months and retain their heat longer into the early fall.
Temperatures in this appellation remain relatively cool in April, rising gradually in May and decreasing gradually decreasing in October. In the summer and over the peak of the growing season, the subdued topography ensures maximum sunlight exposure for the growing vines and their fruit. The temperature difference between the cool air over Lake Ontario and the warm air over the land create localized circulation systems that moderate the rate at which this appellation warms during the day and cools at night. Another common occurrence is the development of a band of cloud along the lakeshore in early fall, acting as insulation and keeping the days slightly cooler and nights warmer.
WIN gratefully acknowledges VQA Ontario as the source for the Terroir backgrounds provided on www.vineandtreefruitinnovations.com
VQA Ontario (2009)