True North Living » Live » Your Summer Bucket List » Perfect Summer Wines? They’re Coming from Pelee Island
Your Summer Bucket List

Perfect Summer Wines? They’re Coming from Pelee Island

Sponsored by:
Sponsored by:

Tim Charisse

Winemaker, Pelee Island Winery 

Annemarie Heikenwälder

Managing Director, Pelee Island Winery


With over 700 acres of vineyards located at Canada’s southernmost point, Pelee Island Winery is the largest privately owned estate winery in the country. A unique microclimate in the country’s warmest grape-growing region, its vineyards benefit from longer, sunnier days and warmer temperatures. Built on the shoulders of the island’s 150-year winemaking history, Pelee Island Winery has become a household name thanks to its approachable and delicious wine catalogue. 

The first grapes were planted on Pelee Island in the 1850s. Wine-making began shortly after, with Villa Vineyards being established in 1868. These bottles gained cross-country popularity and even made it to Europe before the turn of the 20th century. Then in 1979, Walter Strehn purchased 150 acres on Pelee Island with the intention of renewing the area’s viticulture, which turned out to be a massive success. 

Keeping operations green

The winery has grown exponentially over the last 45 years — with the Kingsville location opening in 1983, its 1998-1999 LCBO Supplier of the Year Award, 2009’s first organic vines, and the winery growing to 700 acres in 2019. 

What sets the winery apart is its dedication to environmental sustainability. Because it has sole control over its grape supply, it’s able to provide specialized care to every vine. The winery’s team goes above and beyond, meeting the World Wildlife Fund’s strict sustainability outlines in vineyard growing practices and integrated pest management. They limit their pesticide use and use natural, 100 per cent island-grown fertilizer.

We take care of our island so it will take care of us. It’s a big reason we can continue to produce high-quality wines that taste great.

“We try to be sustainable throughout every step of our winemaking process,” says Pelee Island Winery winemaker Tim Charisse, “particularly with water usage, which is a big part of making wine. We use as little as possible and adhere to precise management techniques for water treatment.” And the team uses minimal product packaging, all of which is recyclable. 

From grape to glass

Pelee Island Winery has been certified by Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario, meaning its practices have been audited and approved to be sustainable throughout the entire grape to glass cycle. In addition, it has established a stewardship for the surrounding island’s distinct forests. Its restoration efforts have allowed for new ecological growth and have helped to preserve their unique microclimate for generations to come. 

Through this and other proactive environmental practices such as the use of renewable energies (both solar panels and wind), composting, bio-dynamic sewage systems, and more, Pelee Island Winery strives to lead the way in eco-friendly operations. 

“Sustainability is an important part of our history and the key to our future,” says Managing Director Annemarie Heikenwälder. “We take care of our island so it will take care of us. It’s a big reason we can continue to produce high-quality wines that taste great.” Consumers seem to agree, as Pelee Island Winery wines maintain a longstanding, nationwide popularity that just keeps growing. 

Lots to love about Lola

This is especially true of its Lola collection. With eye-catching floral labels and a whimsically memorable name, these wines have become some of its most popular summer sippers.

“We wanted to create something fun, fruity, and very delicious, and that was the Lola Blush Sparkling Rosé,” says Charisse. With hints of blood orange and strawberry flavours, it quickly became a favourite. It now also comes in Lola Light, featuring less calories and lower alcohol content. 

Another noteworthy wine is the light and crisp Lola Pinot Grigio. A blend of chardonnay and pinot grigio varietals, it’s a refreshing, citrusy white wine with green apple, lime, lemon, and honeysuckle flavours.

Along with the 750-milliletre size, the Lola wines are also available in 250-milliletre recyclable aluminum bottles. “We wanted to take our accessibility a step further by offering a smaller, portable, resealable option,” says Heikenwälder. “Now they can be brought along on any adventure.”

Buy them everywhere

Very approachable in taste, Lola wines are perfect, easy-to-enjoy summer drinks. Along with all Pelee Island wines, they’re readily available across the country for pickup or delivery from local liquor stores and online. They’re also exported around the world to Japan, Taiwan, the U.K., Denmark, and beyond.  

Pelee Island Winery has two locations — the mainland Kingsville Winery and the Pelee Island Winery Pavilion, which shares the same longitude as northern California. “The island is such an incredibly unique place to visit. It feels like you’re in a different world altogether — the islanders call it ‘island time,’” says Heikenwälder. She mentions that along with visiting the winery, tourists can explore vast nature trails, dine at great restaurants, visit the butterfly sanctuary, and much more. “It’s not surprising that Pelee Island was home to Canada’s first vineyards,” she says. “It’s a natural oasis with an ideal grape-growing climate.” 


Join us on island time and visit peleeisland.com.

Next article