Ontario’s Movers and Shakers for 2022

Here is my list of who I consider to be the Ontario wineries of notoriety for 2022.  My opinions are based on several factors: the winery’s performance at both the National Wine Awards and the All Canadian Wine Championships, environmental and sustainability practices of each winery, and my own personal impressions.

By far these are not the only good wineries in the province, they are merely the ones that especially caught my attention this year.

I have listed my choices in alphabetical order and have included several of each winery’s 2022 award winning wines. 

Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery (Ranked 17th at National Wine Awards)

Since 2010, Hidden Bench has followed organic practices, and since 2013, all their estate vineyards have been certified as organic.

At Hidden Bench they believe that the highest quality of grapes and wine can only be achieved by avoiding the use of systemic chemical insecticides and fungicides. Since 2015 they have extended their organic certification into the winemaking processes and as of 2016, most wines carry the Pro-cert certification on their labels. Although becoming an organic certified winery has raised costs significantly, they believe the peace of mind and health of those who enjoy the wines and vineyard is well worth the additional costs they embrace.

Part of their philosophy is to have the smallest impact possible on the environment. They have instituted several initiatives to help reduce the footprint and assist with the recovery of the environment.

Hidden Bench uses geothermal energy to provide heating and cooling for both their building and winemaking processes.  They have also installed a 105 panel/23.5kW solar array on the storage building which reduces their reliance on the electrical grid and works to be energy cost neutral on an annual basis.

Recycled materials are used in product packaging wherever possible. They also only package their wines at the point of sale to reduce the associated environmental impact.

Hidden Bench’s 2022 award winning wines include the following:

  • Hidden Bench 2016 Blanc de Blanc Zéro Dosage
  • Hidden Bench 2019 Chardonnay Felseck Vineyard Unfiltered
  • Hidden Bench 2019 Pinot Noir Felseck Vineyard
  • Hidden Bench 2019 Terroir Caché
  • Hidden Bench 2020 Chardonnay Unfiltered

Hidden Bench last appeared on my annual list in 2020.

Malivoire Wine Company (15th at National Wine Awards)

Malivoire was named Winery of the Year at last year’s National Wine Awards and earned 6 Gold, 6 Silver and 8 Bronze medals at this year’s event.

For over 20 years Malivoire has become a base for innovation, creativity and sustainability.  They are proud to be Certified under Ontario’s Sustainable Winemaking Program.  They promote biodiversity and a healthy living vineyard that protects wildlife habitat. They conserve water and energy in both the vineyard and winery, recognizing the vital importance of natural resources.

While always receptive to new practices or tools to improve their wine, Malivoire recognizes that as a quality-of-life product, wine’s traditions are treasured by many as essential to their fullest enjoyment of the experience. Malivoire has evaluated emerging farm, vinification and bottling techniques, while remaining dedicated to the concept of wine as a natural product.

Malivoire chooses not to use quick-fix chemical solutions to vineyard challenges. Experience has shown that synthetic treatments, while effective in the short term, can cause long-term complications. Natural obstacles can be remedied effectively with natural solutions so the vineyards will thrive without causing deterioration to their surrounding habitat.

Malivoire’s 2022 award winning wines include:

  • Malivoire 2021 Farmstead Gamay
  • Malivoire 2021 Gamay Concrete
  • Malivoire 2021 Le Coeur Gamay
  • Malivoire N/V Bisous Brut
  • Malivoire NV Bisous Rose

Peller Estate Winery (14th at National Wine Awards)

Peller Estates consistently produces fine quality wines.  They earned 7 Gold, 4 Silver and 3 Bronze medals at this year’s National Wine Awards.   Their wine portfolio features four collections: Andrew Peller Signature Series, Private Reserve, Family Series and French Cross.

This year’s award winners include:

  • Peller Estates Winery 2018 Cabernet Franc Icewine
  • Peller Estates Winery 2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine
  • Peller Estates Winery 2019 Oak Aged Vidal Blanc Icewine
  • Peller Estates Winery 2019 Signature Series Riesling
  • Peller Estates Winery 2020 Private Reserve Gamay Noir
  • Peller Estates Winery 2020 Private Reserve Merlot
  • Peller Estates Winery 2020 Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc
  • Peller Estates Winery Signature Series Sur Lie Chardonnay

Potter Settlement Artisan Winery

Potter Settlement is very small but it has been making great strides to create high-end, quality wines.  They produce more than a dozen different wines, most of which are made with grapes grown on the Tweed property.  The winery only purchases grape varieties that can’t be grown onsite (because of the cool climate) and they never buy finished wine.  If the grapes are not grown on site, the wine label will indicate where they were grown.

It is one of the northernmost vineyards in Canada, where the temperature is known to drop to -27o C during the winter.  However, being further north has its benefits, as the soil is rich in minerals.  

Potter Settlement is a marriage of rustic, old-world charm with up-to-date winemaking techniques. They respect tradition but strive for progression when creating their wines.  The winery promotes organic farming, as well as the use of solar and geothermal energy. They strive to be considerate and respectful of their surroundings. Potter Settlement consists of 10 planted acres of vinifera, hybrid, and VQA-recognized grapes.

Several of Potter Settlement wines are uniquely crafted adhering to historic processes, specific European yeast, or barrels made of uncommon woods.

This year’s award winners include:

  • Potter Settlement 2019 Cabernet Franc
  • Potter Settlement 2020 Cordova
  • Potter Settlement 2017 Marquette
  • Potter Settlement 2017 Pinot Noir
  • Potter Settlement 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé

Redstone Winery (18th at National Wine Awards)

Redstone is a new addition to my Movers and Shakers list.  They earned a Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 4 Bronze medals at this year’s National Wine Awards.

In 2009, Moray Tawse, owner of Tawse Winery, purchased what was formerly the Thomas and Vaughan Estate Winery. Redstone got its name from the red clay soil and large stones that exists throughout the vineyard.

The 38-acre estate vineyard is farmed organically and is perfect for maturing late-ripening varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. There is also Pinot Gris on the property. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay varietals are grown on the recently acquired Limestone vineyard.

Fostering the health of their vines and the soil they grow on requires a labour-intensive and hands-on approach. The yields are kept low by cluster thinning to ensure that all the energy of the vine is focused in fewer grape clusters which then become more concentrated in flavour. The grapes are hand-picked to select the very best fruit.

They practice organic farming, which feeds the vines and controls diseases without the use of synthetic insecticides, fungicides and fertilizers. They have chickens that feed on bugs, sheep that eat the lower vine leaves to expose the grapes to the ripening sun and use horses instead of tractors whenever possible to help prevent soil compaction.

Redstone’s list of award-winning wines for 2022 include:

  • Redstone 2018 Cabernet Franc Redstone Vineyard
  • Redstone 2019 Bistro Gamay Noir
  • Redstone 2019 Bistro Riesling
  • Redstone 2019 Brickyard Riesling
  • Redstone 2019 The Club Riesling

Thirty Bench Wine Makers (10th at National Wine Awards)

Thirty Bench Wines was awarded Best White Wine of the Year at the All Canadian Wine Awards for their 2019 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard wine.  At the National Wine Awards they received 6 Gold, 7 Silver and 1 Bronze medal.

The vineyard’s location beneath the Niagara Escarpment provides a longer season that allows grapes more time to ripen and cooler nights that help intensify flavours. All Thirty Bench wines are made exclusively with grapes from their own vineyards. Their vines are hand cropped and thinned to produce very low yields to create exceptional quality and an intensity of fruit flavour.

The commitment to “Small Lot” winemaking means many of their wines are made in extremely limited numbers.

2022 award winners include the following wines:

  • Thirty Bench 2019 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard
  • Thirty Bench 2019 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask ($32.00)
  • Thirty Bench 2019 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard
  • Thirty Bench 2019 Special Select Late Harvest
  • Thirty Bench 2020 Small Lot Pinot Noir
  • Thirty Bench 2020 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard
  • Thirty Bench 2020 Winemaker’s Blend Cabernet Franc
  • Thirty Bench 2020 Winemaker’s Blend Riesling
  • Thirty Bench 2021 Winemaker’s Blend Rosé

Next week I will present this year’s list for British Columbia wineries.

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Scotland’s Campbeltown Whisky Region

During Victorian times Campbeltown was the most famous whisky-producing region in the world.   Campbeltown is the main town in the remote Kintyre Peninsula in west Argyll; situated between the isles of Islay and Arran.  There were more than 30 distilleries and Campbeltown itself was often referred to as “Whisky City” and “The Whisky Capital of the World.”  However, over time Speyside and Lowlands distilleries became more prominent and as blended Scotch whisky became a consumer favorite, there was a notable decline in the demand for Campbeltown whisky, as popular opinion soured and the whisky was considered to be heavy, oily and smoky.

Greed also began to play a factor in Campbeltown’s decline as distillers began to focus more on the quantity of whisky produced rather than on the quality.

Since the 1930s, only the Springbank and Glen Scotia distilleries remained. While the two distilleries closed during certain periods of time, neither closed permanently. They have become a testament to Campbeltown’s resilience. Together with the new Glengyle distillery, they have revitalized the whisky industry even though their combined whisky output accounts for less than 1 percent of total production in Scotland.  Despite this, Campbeltown remains one of the five official regions in Scotland for malt whisky production.  Even though this remote seaside village is lacking in the number of distilleries it more than makes up for it in history and pride.

The Springbank Distillery has been on the same site since 1828 and is the only distillery in Scotland to complete the entire production process on site.  It has been owned by the Mitchell family for over 180 years.

The Glen Scotia distillery was originally just the Scotia Distillery.  It was built in 1832.  It is said to be haunted by its former owner, Duncan MacCallum who died in 1930. Workers today are said to avoid certain areas of the distillery after dark.

The Glengyle Distillery restarted production in 2004 after being closed for almost eighty years. The distillery is owned by J & A Mitchell & Co, the same company that owns and operates Springbank. However, the whisky made at Glengyle is named Kilkerran.

Campbeltown does not have a distinctive regional style as the other whisky regions do. The use of peat and casks for infusing flavours into the malts varies by distillery. Overall, the distilleries produce a style similar to elements found in the Lowland and Islay.  Campbeltown has gained a cult status among whisky enthusiasts. While it will likely never grow to the heights of centuries past, the town has at least partially reclaimed its heritage.

The offerings of all three distilleries are occasionally available for sale in Canada’s liquor stores.

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Wine and Shellfish Pairings

I previously talked about wine pairings with various types of fish so today I will review the rest of the food that comes from the oceans of the world, shellfish.

Photo credit: 80s-wine.com

So, what kind of wine goes best with shellfish? It is commonly said that white wine goes with seafood and red wine goes with meat. However, since I have written this article and you are reading it, you probably know it isn’t quite as simple as that.

Shellfish served without a sauce tends to call for light whites, like Vouvray from France’s Loire valley or sparkling wines like Champagne.

When it comes to shellfish served in sauce, the sauce should be your guide when selecting an appropriate wine.  Generally, though, most pair well with a medium-bodied acidic white wine like unoaked Chardonnay, white Burgundy or German Riesling.

Spicy dishes will pair well with a wine that has some sweetness, like an off-dry Gewürztraminer or an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

If you can’t decide or everyone at the table is eating something different, Champagne is a great choice as it is one of the most food-friendly of wines.

You can also look to the cooking style to help you choose your wine.  Generally, Teriyaki and other sweet sauces pair well with a sweeter wine, such as an off-dry rosé.  Spicy sauces like curries go well with a sweet or slightly sweet low-alcohol white wine like Riesling or Moscato.  Herb-based sauces seasoned with basil, parsley, or mint pair well with a Sauvignon Blanc or Torrontés.

Here are some wine suggestions to go along with specific shellfish dishes:

Lobster Rolls

Lobster rolls pair well with a light and fragrant white wine like Spain’s Verdejo or a medium-bodied white wine like Chardonnay.


Light and citrusy ceviche will go well with a high-acid, citrusy white wine like Sauvignon Blanc or an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.

Clam Chowder

Creamy New England style clam chowder goes well with an oaked Chardonnay. On the other hand, tomato-based Manhattan clam chowder pairs well with a light white wine such as a Greek Assyrtiko.

Shrimp Cocktail

There are both red and white wine options to go along with a shrimp cocktail.  A white wine with a touch of sweetness, such as an off-dry Riesling, or a fruity medium-bodied red like Merlot, or even a sparkling wine like Cava are options.

Crab Cakes

Crab cakes go well with a lightly oaked Chardonnay, or a light white wine like Sauvignon Blanc.

Seafood Boil

A southern-style crawfish or shrimp boil will have some spice and heat so it will need a slightly sweet white wine like an off-dry Riesling or Viognier, or even a sparkling wine like Cava or Prosecco.

Linguine & Clam Sauce

This light and garlicky pasta goes well with a light white wine like Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio). If you opt for a red clam sauce, a Chianti will go well.


Mussels in a white wine sauce will pair well with a white wine, such as Pinot Gris (Pinot Grigio), Chablis, or Sauvignon Blanc. Mussels in a tomato-based sauce will pair well with lighter to medium-bodied red wines that are high in acidity, like Pinot Noir.

In Closing …

Any time of year is the perfect time to enjoy shellfish and wine, whether you’re dining at your favourite restaurant, your own dining table, or even in the summertime backyard.

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The Canned Wine Market

It’s no longer uncommon to see cans of red wines, white wines, rosé wines, and sparkling wines on wine store shelves.  Canned wine is increasing in popularity but sales still lag well behind bottled wine. 

Canned wine offers several conveniences over wine from a bottle, such as increased portability, ease of access, zip top versus corkscrew, pre-measured servings, less weightiness and a lower price point than many bottled wines.

But is canned wine of equal quality to bottled wine? In a word, “Yes”.  Wineries make canned wine in the same manner that they make bottled wine. The main difference is that the final product is placed inside an aluminum can instead of a glass bottle.  The key is to look for products made by trusted brands and winemakers that produce high-quality wines.

There are a wide variety of wines offered in cans, including sweet and dry whites, reds and rosés. Wine spritzers, which typically have a lower alcohol content, are also available.

It can be argued that aluminum cans are more environmentally friendly than glass bottles.  Being lighter in weight, transportation requires less of a carbon footprint.  On average, aluminum cans are composed of three times more recycled material than glass bottles.

Canned wines come in many of the same varieties as bottled wines. The canning process doesn’t take away any of the wine’s quality.  Many wineries can the same wine that they put in bottles. The quality and taste are the same and the can doesn’t alter the taste of the wine.  

Canned wine can be drunk directly from the can, but in order to aerate it and experience the bouquet, it may be better served in a glass.  Canned wine will not last as long as a comparable bottled wine might. The average shelf life for canned wine is 12 to 18 months. Canned wines can expire and aren’t intended to be collected and aged in the same way as some bottled wines are.

Store unopened canned wine similar to how you would bottled wine. The only difference is that there is no benefit from laying canned wine on its side. 

If you open a can of wine and don’t finish it in the same sitting, you can store the can in the fridge for two to four days. Plastic wrap or aluminum foil will help prevent air from spoiling your wine. A better option may be to transfer the contents of the can to a sealable, reusable water bottle.

Canned wine provides flexibility, especially when adventuring outdoors. Bottled wines can be a hassle when you want an easy and portable beverage.  Canned wine is the perfect drink to enjoy poolside, at the beach on a hike.

This can be the perfect time to explore the world of canned wine as the quality of these products has seen significant improvement over the past decade.   However, in my own opinion, though canned wine provides a good portable travel alternative, it will not replace bottled wines.

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