The Niagara Escarpment area is located on the 43rd latitude placing it at or near other great wine regions of the world such as Burgundy and Oregon. All of these areas, including the Niagara Escarpment, are considered a cool climate viticultural regions which are ideally suited for the growing of Chardonnay and Riesling. Wine from these regions are lighter, fruitier and naturally age longer wheras hotter regions produce wines with less fruit definition and a heavier feel in the mouth. The Niagara Escarpment shares many climatic conditions with Burgundy, France. Heat accumulated during the growing season is similar, annual rainfall is in the same range, and vines flower at about the same time in mid June. Both are considered to be affected by continental climate, that is, we are not a maritime climate like Napa with an ocean nearby.
Fortunately, for Eveningside Vineyards, Lake Ontario is eight miles away and we benefit from its relationship with the Escarpment wall. Lake Ontario is a very deep lake that rarely freezes and is the first lake in the Great Lakes chain. Lake Ontario is 300 feet lower than the remaining four Great Lakes and much of the country. The Lake Ontario region, being so much lower than the rest of the landscape is very much like a valley. The escarpment was the lake-shore of Old Lake Iroquois. Before the last ice age, Old Lake Iroquois was the only lake before the formation of the Great Lakes chain. After the last ice age, Old Lake Iroquois receded back to the present location of Lake Ontario. Eveningside Vineyards sits about half of a mile from the escarpment wall, and at one time, was the lake floor of Old Lake Iroquois. the soils that resulted after the lake receded are unique and it left us wit ha perfect PH balance of seven.
During the summer, Lake Ontario receives and stores vast amounts of heat. Our growing season is extended because as autumn temperatures want to cool down, warmth is expelled by the lake and once the warmth reaches the escarpment wall, it is reflected back toward the lake. This circular motion of warm air extends our growing season and reduces the risk of frost. Climatic charts show that Niagara County has the second mildest winter in the state of New York. In late winter, the lake slowly begins to accumulate cool temperatures and is released in the spring time which aids in preventing unwanted occasional high spikes in the air temperatures in late winter/early spring, thus reducing the risk of wine flowering.
The unique characteristic that allows the growing of fine wine grapes in the micro climate is the interplay between Lake Ontario and the escarpment.