Wine making in Essex County has a proud past, dating back to the 1860's when Canada's first commercial estate winery was founded on Pelee Island. The industry grew rapidly. Then, as now, the soil, temperate climate, and moderating effect of Lake Erie allowed our pioneer vintners to produce high-quality grapes which they turned into award-winning wines or sold at premium prices to wineries elsewhere.
In 1890, grapes were cited as a major crop on the mainland, as well as Pelee Island, commanding a lucrative four cents per pound. By 1900, Essex was one of the most important grape production areas in Ontario. Acreage peaked in 1904 at 1794 acres, then dropped. By 1914, there were only 275 commercial acres of grapes, and less than 50 a few years later. Although the reasons for this rapid decline are both diverse and debated, the competition for land for tobacco production, which proved more profitable, and by real estate speculators, appear to have been contributing factors. Contrary to popular mythology, the Temperance Act in Ontario (1916-1927) and Prohibition in the U.S. (1920-1933) probably had little impact.
Today, tobacco has gone, and the grape is back! Commercial wine making returned to Essex County with the opening of Pelee Island Winery in 1983. Since then, a growing roster of capable and creative vintners have been reclaiming the soil and the region's reputation by producing some of Canada's best wines.
Wine making: it's in our blood and in our soil, rich with the stories of past harvests. Viewpointe Estate Winery invites you to experience our region and its fine wines.