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Le Gourmet TV visits Cave Spring Cellars to get a lesson on how the Niagara Escarpment effects wine production in this region.
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Legourmet TV Niagara Escarpment
The site here has this Dartmouth background that you just saw a second ago and it looks straight up towards lake Ontario which is only about three and a half kilometers to the North to the lake shore and the real blessing of these escarpment bench lands especially the beams we’ll bench here as I mentioned the elevation and approximately to the lakes. So the warm area that stays higher tends to stay on these slopes that keep the vine canopy green really late into the season. We’re in mid-October now and this season has been quite early but in some years like last year we can leave our Riesling or cabernet franc for example to hang quite late even up to November. In most years don’t get frost up here till well into November and so you get late ripening conditions which are a big thing why Riesling is so successful here. In certain other areas where you can’t leave the fruit hanging that long, the Riesling is not that well suited.
The escarpment is the outer edge of a hundred of millions of years old sea bed and it was a limestone and shell and sedimentary rocks that were formed in the sea bed lifted up and exposed a layer of sedimentary rock that the sea bed had formed and they face out toward the North, toward Lake Ontario and it’s just this coincidence of elevation and the limestone phase here and the lake breezes it makes such a special sight here. But as well a nice gentle slope as you can see our vineyard from top to bottom drops as much as 80 feet or so and that’s critical. It’s not so steep that it’s difficult to work or that it creates shadowing or anything like that but it has got a nice even fall where the cool there and the cooler months move down the slope. It’s just like a lot of wineries that you’ve seen in the old world. For that matter, in the new world too where it tends to be not always but very often that on the hillsides the best wines are made because often the soils are poorer in a sense that they are not rich in nutrients. They tend to be stony and heavy and that’s what wine grapes like. For the best quality wines, they aren’t too fertile to put on a smaller crop will keep the vine nice and compact and these soils do that. But it’s this interaction of the lake and the elevated escarpment bench here that is the key.