The 26th edition of the Ontario Wine Awards was scheduled to be held back on June 4th. However, due to COVID-19 the event was postponed. For the previous 25 years the entries were assessed blind by panels of accredited wine judges from the wine writing and teaching community. The criteria for judging the entries not only required an appreciation for wine, but also necessitated knowledge and expertise of wines from the Ontario region. Included amongst the winning categories; Ontario Red, White and Sparkling Wines of the Year, Ontario Winemaker of the Year, and the Ontario Journalism Award, which recognizes the best article published on the Ontario wine industry.
The 2020 COVID-19 version of the awards finally took place on August 28th A small group gathered at Kew Vineyard, at Beamsville, Ontario, as the awards were presented in front of a small, socially-distanced gathering. Unlike previous years there were no judges and no formal tastings for the four main awards. Instead the Awards Committee reached out to judges who had participated in the last three years of the competition and asked them to nominate their top three white, red and sparkling wines they had tasted during the year. Based on those responses the top scoring wines were tabulated.
In addition, the judges were asked to vote on whom they considered should be honoured with the title “Winemaker of the Year”.
The Ontario Wine Awards results for 2020 are:
The Allen Red Wine of the Year Award was awarded to Prince Edward County’s Rosehall Run for its 2018 ‘JCR Pinot Noir Rosehall Vineyard’. I was lucky to obtain a few bottles on my recent trip to the County and heartily concur.
The Quench Magazine White Wine of the Year Award went to the 2017 ‘Charles Baker Riesling Picone Vineyard’ from Niagara.
The Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College Sparkling Wine of the Year Award was awarded to the 2014 ‘Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Carte Blanche Blanc de Blanc’ from Niagara.
Finally, the Quench Magazine Winemaker of the Year Award went to Philip Dowell of Niagara’s Angels Gate Estate Winery.
Looking forward to 2021, we can only hope that life will return to a more semblance of normal. However, at this point it is anyone’s guess.