Robert Bell's

Wines of Canada

Since 1992

Robert's Reports

Lake Huron Shore

From sea to shiny sea Canada extends more than 7,821 km (4,860 mi.) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. From the Island of Newfoundland to Vancouver Island on the West Coast of British Columbia. A land known for it's harsh winters has made a name for itself in the wine industry. Canada is a vast land with magnificent mountain ranges and large fresh water lakes. In Canada numerous microclimate produced by the Mountain ranges and bodies of water have provided some of the world's best areas for growing grapes fertile soil, little rain and warm sunny days resulting in quality wines.

The early adventures into growing grapes in Canada was a difficult one. However perseverance has led to success by applying modern viticulture practices and proper selection of grape species, even vinifera could indeed, be grown successfully thus stretching the once confined microclimate regions even farther. Quebec being an excellent example of this.

The most recognized areas for producing wines in Canada are southern Ontario around the Great Lakes area most notably the Niagara Peninsula and the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia. Other main regions in Ontario are The Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County.

The most recent new region to emerge is the Lake Huron Shore.  A number of wineries have established a beachhead on the east side extending from the south tip of the lake 100KM north.

The Great Lakes were formed by Glaciers many thousands of years ago. The soils in the Great Lakes basin vary from sand to clay to rock, with a high concentration of limestone from an ancient seabed that was exposed over a long period of glacial activity. Limestone is the same basic soil type also shared by Burgundy and other regions of northern France. Some of the vineyards lie flat on former seabed areas, while others are perched on hills and benches that formed the ancient shoreline. The topography is ideal for water drainage (too much moisture can dilute flavours), and provides nutrients and minerality to the grapes.

 The Great lakes moderate cold winter temperatures and cool the vineyards during Ontario’s hot summers. The Great Lakes have shaped Ontario’s wine regions and play a major role in moderating the extremes of the region’s continental climate. During the winter the lakes do not freeze, their warmer water helping protect their shoreline vineyards against vine-destroying deep freezes. During the summer their cooler waters moderate heat extremes; 30ºC temperatures are not uncommn.

Huron County took the initiative to conduct a complete climatic & soil study on the development of a viticulture industry within the boundaries of Huron County (specifically Huron Ridge). The study looked at the geological formation of soils along the Huron Ridge. It was mainly glacial sediment, similar to the soil conditions found in grape growing regions such as Bourgogne, Alsace, & Loire Valley in France. Additionally, it was concluded in the report that Huron County met an adequate number of growing degree days to successfully grow quality wine grapes.

Alton Farms Estate Winery is the most southern of the wineries. Marc and Anne Alton moved to Aberarder Line in Plympton-Wyoming with a goal of creating a vineyard and winery "where we can make delicious wines and create a new wine region for Ontario". Plympton-Wyoming is located on the south tip of Lake Huron

Planting began in the spring of 2006 with fifteen different varieties. These include: Cabernet Sauvignon  and Chardonnay, as well as hybrid cold temperature varieties such as Frontenac  and Marechal Foch. They now have 6 acres of grape production; selling wines to the local market.

They spent the first 7 years testing numerous grapes varieties to determine which would grow well, which would survive in this area using sustainable production methods, and then which of these grapes could be made into quality wines.  They also developed their own grape called Aberarder

Signature wine: Aberarder White, produced from the Aberarder grape.

Alton Farms Estate Winery believes in making a social impact with their business, and collects funds, helps to raise funds, and supports multiple local charities each year.”

They jnow have 7 acres of grapes , production focused on vinifera varieties such as Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon and their own hybrid Aberarder White.

2nd Street Estate Winery

The most Northern is 2nd Street Estate Winery about 100KM from Alton Farms. Sahadev and Shannon Banerjee from Manitoba had a dream to open a winery. When opportunity present itself they moved from Winnipeg, to London in June of 2008.

Falling in love with the Huron County they searched and found property to start their winery. After three years of trying to find the right property, the perfect location presented itself: 45 acres with 3 buildings that could work as a home, storage and retail. The property was in desperate need of being cleared, as it had been left fallow for the past 30 years. Weeds, Sumac and large trees had taken over. After spending the first two summers fighting back nature, it was ready for planting. In 2016, 5 different variety of vines: Cabernet Franc, Baco Noir, Vidal, Chardonnay and Riesling were planted. In 2017 they started construction of the winery.

Dark Horse Estate Winery Inc

Dark Horse Estate Winery Inc. could not have been conceived of or built, in any place but Huron County.  John Rasenberg combined his passion for farming, a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and the dark, rich, loamy soil of his beloved Huron County to build an agri-tourism destination winery that would engage and delight visitors from around the world.

It was Sue Ann’s passion for wine and John’s love of Huron County and farming that propelled the birth of Dark Horse Estate Winery. In 2015, over 22,000 vines were planted in our vineyard, consisting of such varietals as: Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, Riesling, Baco Noir, Baco Noir, Vidal and Marquette (Minnesota Hybrid).

Dark Horse plans to increase its plantings over the next few years.

Maelstrom Winery

Maelstrom Winery is located in Clinton just a few Km from 2nd Street. Maelström Winery took root in 2009, when the Landsborough family planted a test plot of vines to see if they would survive Huron County’s cold climate. To their delight, the vines not only survived – they thrived! So in 2010, they planted 2 more acres of vines, and haven't looked back since.

The Landsborough family roots are well established in Huron County, tracing back to the Scottish delegation which originally settled in the Eastern part of the County back in 1834. Catherine’s family was also drawn by the agricultural richness of the region and it would be her family farm that would become home to Maelström Winery.

This inner region of the County boasts a very diverse topography of hills and valleys which naturally drain water and the cooler damaging temperatures down to their river bed. North of Maelström is the Hullett Provincial Wildlife area - a 2200 hectare terrain of open water, marsh and swamp creating an exceptionally biodiverse ecosystem.

These 2 water systems and the accompanying vast ecosystem provide for a very healthy and vibrant terroir. The vineyard itself was chosen because of its impressive natural drainage as well as its combination of sandy and clay loam soils – a combination which is ideally suited to growing premium quality grapes and producing structured red wines like Marquette, Baco Noir and Cabernet Franc.

The white wines also demonstrate a unique expression of terroir - both Chardonnay and Frontenac Blanc exhibit more acidity which produces more tropical fruit flavours and enhanced aroma than in less cold areas. 

Carrie - Adam Durand  Cornfield Winery
Carrie - Adam Durand

The Huron County terroir is famous for it's rolling hills and valleys, and natural bodies of water, that create promote a bevy of wildlife, excellent drainage, natural irrigation and defense against damaging winds and harsh, winter conditions. Adam Durand his wife Carrie chose Bayfield to start their CornerField winery in 2015. Yes. the wines are made by Steve Byfield.

With fertile, well-worked soil and a unique environment in which to grow, their winery focuses on traditional winemaking with a family-first approach. 

Frank - Liz Ihrig Schatz Winery
Frank - Liz Ihrig

Schatz Winery is located in Zurich. Innkeeper Frank Ihrig along with family members has turned to wine growing. The inn (Hessenland) with the new vineyard is located on the shores of Lake Huron between Grand Bend and Bayfield.

Since the inaugural vine planting in 2015, Chef and Owner-Innkeeper turned viticulturist Frank, has lead a team of family, friends and community volunteers in tending to a family of grapes inclusive of Marquette, Petite Pearl, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Frontenac Gris, Siegerrebe (Victory Vine), Frontenac Blanc and La Crescent. 

Shake Ridge Estates

Shale Ridge Estates The 13-acre farm, winery and cidery, established in 2019 is located close to the south end of Lake Huron in the village of Thedford. Alicia and Garren Hardman are third generation farmers.

Alicia discovered cider at a Fruit and vegetable convention that she was attending with her family in Grand Rapids, Michigan back in 2013. That is when she fell in love with the concept of fermented farm fresh apples and grapes in a glass. She has always been a firm believer in drinking something good for you that tastes just as good too! Adding other fruits to the ciders has become her own way of expressing her love for creating new and beautiful things.

Twin Pines is a 50 acre property located in Lambton Shores, Bosanquet Township in the County of Lambton. It is set on the sandy loam beach ridge (known as Fox Soil) between the shores of the old Lake Burwell and a limestone dolomite ridge. The land is rich with naturally occurring aquafirs and is perfect for growing fruit.  Joe Vansteenkiste and his wife Alma came across the property in 1966.

Even though the Vansteenkiste family has enjoyed over 47 wonderful years building the orchards and enhancing this beautiful property, it has only been 10 years since they have had the proud designation of "Estate Winery" A unique concept was born as both Mark and Mike Vansteenkiste, with the guidance of their father Joe, made plans to press and ferment specifically chosen varieties of hand-picked apples. 

Twin Pines has approximately 40 acres planted in fruit. Currently, the farm produces well over one million pounds of apples from 25 commercial varieties as well as approximately 15 heritage and specialty cider varieties. Twin Pines is designated an Integrated Pest Management orchard. Simply, this means that Mark and Mike are certified and trained to count and identify bugs in the orchards and determine when (if at all) to protect the apples with a spray. This approach to fruit growing allows for an incredible reduction in over-spraying and over-use of pesticides. We are proud to be an IPM orchard and provide fruit that has as little additional sprays as possible.

Lambton Shores
Lambton Shores

Huron Shore Wineries


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Welcome to Robert Bell's ! This is a personal website. We do not represent the wine industry or any aspect of the Canadian Government. We have been promoting Canada's wines and wineries since 1992. We do not sell or purchase any products. Please enjoy the website. Your comments are welcome.