Stratus Vineyards, established in 2000, is a sustainable, innovative winery located in the heart of Niagara wine country in the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake. Stratus is dedicated to growing and producing limited quantities of premium wine in the VQA Niagara Lakeshore appellation.
The Stratus vineyard is a sixty-two acre estate moderated by the effects of two bodies of water: the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. Niagara-on-the Lake is a special habitat called the Carolinian Zone, an area known for rare species of plants and animals. The vineyards of Stratus benefit from a unique micro-climate that ranks among the warmest in Niagara. These temperatures are comparable to those of northern Rhone and are warmer than those in Bordeaux. Fruit from the vineyard is subject to an uncompromising selection process at harvest. By employing the watchful eyes and hands of sixteen people covering two modern grape-sorting tables, unsuitable fruit is discarded. This results in only the ripest, most flavourful grapes proceeding to the winemaking stage. This meticulous attention to fruit selection is the most intensive in Canada.
Winemaking at Stratus is led by J-L Groux. A native of the Loire Valley in France, J-L has been honoured as “Ontario Winemaker of the Year” and is renowned for his passion for creating distinctive wines based on the principle of assemblage.
Assemblage is the art of combining several different grape varieties to produce a wine that is the most complex expression of a vineyard’s terroir. The synergy created with assemblage winemaking reflects the age-old theory that the sum is greater than the parts. Our two signature assemblage wines are Stratus White and Stratus Red. Critically acclaimed, these wines have quickly become benchmarks of quality within the Canadian wine industry.
With a focus on Vitis vinifera , the vineyard is planted in forty-four separate blocks containing eighteen different grape varieties. All of the varieties of Bordeaux as well as Syrah, Gamay, Chardonnay, Gew?rztraminer, Riesling, Marsanne, Tempranillo, Sangiovese, Tannat, Mourv?dre, and Viognier, allow for wines of diversity and complexity. Substantial portions of the vineyard are over a quarter of a century old.
The soils of the Stratus vineyard are highly prized compositions of clay loam with permeable gravelly limestone. The canopy and fruit of the vines receive enhanced exposure to the sun through the use of a modified ‘Scott Henry’ vine-training system. Viticultural practices adhere to the principles of rigorously low yields, elimination of herbicides, and a harvest mandate that relies entirely on gentle hand picking.
The winery, designed by architect Les Andrew with engineering design by Alan Greer, is a marvel of efficiency, sustainability and flexibility. It is a building designed to produce limited quantities of wine based on a true gravity flow system, thereby eliminating any pumping of wine.
Stratus is committed to responsible stewardship of the land. As a result, the winery is the first building in Canada to achieve LEEDTM (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification from the Canada Green Building Council. Stratus was the first winery worldwide to fully achieve this designation. Environmental sustainability is a core value of all involved in the design and operation of Stratus. As a proud new member of the Canadian wine industry, Stratus is committed to building on the existing foundations of quality-oriented pioneers and wineries in efforts to anchor Niagara as one of the world’s great wine regions.