The Experts’ List of Underrated Wine Regions

Most wine enthusiasts are familiar with international wine regions such as France’s Bordeaux, California’s Napa Valley or Italy’s Tuscany.  However, there are many other, lesser-known regions, each offering its own unique characteristics.  These regions offer not only good wine but fewer crowds and opportunities to discover places less travelled.  My list is not intended to be all-encompassing; it is merely a list of regions that I have found intriguing for one reason or another.  The regions are presented in alphabetical order by country.

Pedernal Valley, Argentina

Located in the shadow of the Andes mountains, Argentina’s wine country is spectacular.  Situated north of the famous Mendoza region is the lesser-known Pedernal Valley. It is felt that the Pedernal Valley can stand on its own merits as a premium wine region. The region’s Malbec is considered world-class and distinct and represents a unique style.

Mendocino County, California, United States

Mendocino County grows less than four percent of California’s grape yield but contains an impressive one-third of the state’s certified organic vineyards. The number of old vines, post-WWII plantings makes this region unique. Some of the best wineries in California source their grapes from Mendocino. Dry-farming practices were introduced to the region by Italian families in the early 1900s, which resulted in wines that are concentrated, balanced and distinctly Californian.

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia, Canada

Photo credit: dailyhive.com

Canada’s own Okanagan Valley is considered breathtaking as it is situated between two mountain ranges and contains glacial lakes and rolling hills of vineyards. The region produces world-class wines that are difficult to find outside of Canada.  The high-quality wines combined with the beautiful views of the region have attracted top winemakers from France, New Zealand and South Africa.

Chinon, Bugey and Savoie, France

There are three lesser-known regions in France.  Chinon is in the Loire Valley.  It is much less popular than its neighbours, Bordeaux and Burgundy. The Loire Valley is famous for its white Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumés. The red variety is Cabernet Franc.

The wine regions of Savoie and nearby Bugey are nestled in the French Alps and are home to great wines and hospitality. Savoie has both a ski and hiking industry and thus there are quality restaurants, wine bars and a wide range of accommodations.  The vineyards are spread throughout the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes overlooking both the mountain ranges and fresh bodies of water.

Bugey is situated underneath the alps. There is a group of small producers that have either relocated from other parts of France or are new vintners who are focused on raising the profile of the region.

The Republic of Georgia

Georgia is the world’s oldest continuously producing wine region but it is one of the lesser known.  This is due to The Republic formerly being under the control of the former Soviet Union.   During that time only four grape varieties of the over 500 available were allowed in production. After gaining independence, Georgia rediscovered its wine culture and began sharing it with the world. Traditional Georgia wine production is unique, resulting in the production of some exceptionally distinctive wines.  The wines are produced in underground amphorae called Qvevri.

For additional information about the wines and the region, see my posts The Wines of European Georgia from February 6, 2021 and Traditional Georgian Wine from September 18, 2021.

Szekszárd, Hungary

The Szekszárd wine region is located about 160 kilometres south of Budapest. Not many tourists explore beyond Budapest since the region has not been marketed. However, it is one of the country’s oldest wine regions, dating back around 2000 years.  Wine production is small and the wineries are often family-owned, which equates to limited exports and less awareness about the region.

The region has a wide range wine styles.  The most popular variety is the Kékfrankos grape (aka Blaufränkisch) which produces a tannic and spicy style of wine. There’s also Kadarka grapes which creates a fresh acid red fruit that is meant to be enjoyed without aging.

Mexico

Mexico’s wine history dates back to the1600s but the region remains a virtual unknown for many wine enthusiasts. Although wine grapes have been cultivated there for 400 years, it has only been during the past several decades that there has been a renewed focus on premium and terroir-driven expressions.

Valle de Guadalupe’s boutique wineries are experimenting with a mix of European red grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Nebbiolo and Tempranillo.  The varietals are often blended to create a Bordeaux style of wine.

Middleburg, Virginia, United States

California, Oregon, Washington and New York dominate the U.S. wine industry but there are other regions worth noting.  One of these is Middleburg, Virginia.  Virginia was one of the first places in America to produce wine but it is still a relative unknown. The wine industry there is mostly made up of small artisanal producers who are creating world-class wines.  Some think of the region as a crossroads between Napa Valley and Bordeaux.  The region is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains an hour outside Washington DC.

Final Thoughts

There are many lesser-known wine regions to be explored, either by visiting or merely by sampling the wines they produce.  By expanding our horizons and creating new experiences, we will ultimately find more wines to enjoy.

Sláinte mhaith

British Columbia’s Movers and Shakers for 2022

Here is my list of what I consider to be British Columbia’s most noteworthy wineries 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.

However, there are many more great wineries in the province.  These are just the ones that I paid particular attention to this year.

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

Black Hills Estate Winery

Black Hills Estate Winery vineyards have some of the most favourable grape growing conditions in the country, located in the middle of Canada’s only official desert. The resulting microclimate provides one of the hottest, driest and sunniest sites in the country.

Black Hills irrigation techniques and viticulture practices provide ideal growing conditions for the Bordeaux and Rhone varietals.

Black Hills grows four clones of Cabernet Sauvignon, two clones of Cabernet Franc and four clones of Merlot. Each clone has a unique flavour profile. When they are blended together, this Clonal diversity gives multi-faceted depth and complexity to the wine.

Black Hills is committed to sustainable, environmentally friendly farming and winemaking practices. All the vines are hand picked, hand pruned and manually maintained. They have been awarded Environmental Farm Plan Status by the British Columbia Environmental Farm Plan, which is administered by the Federal and Provincial Departments of Agriculture, as well as the BC Agriculture Council and the Investment Agriculture Foundation.

Black Hill’s 2022 award winning wines include:

  • Black Hills 2020 Addendum
  • Black Hills 2020 Chardonnay
  • Black Hills 2020 Ipso Facto
  • Black Hills 2020 Per Se
  • Black Hills 2020 Roussanne
  • Black Hills 2021 Alibi

CedarCreek Estate Winery (Ranked 1st at The National Wine Awards)

CedarCreek was named Winery of the Year at the 2022 National Wine Awards. The award was earned based on the number of wines receiving awards as well as for their approach to growing grapes and producing their wine.

CedarCreek works to build a healthy ecosystem, utilizing animals and plants to naturally combat disease or pests. Cover crops, like alfalfa and crimson, keep the soil healthy while animals bring a diversity and balance to the land.

Bees pollinate cover crops and wildflowers contributing to the diversity of the vineyard and helping eliminate the need for synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.  Chickens eat many unwanted pests and help scratch and aerate the soil and their eggs are served in the winery’s restaurant.

There are three Scottish Highland cows that wander the vineyard rows breaking up the soil.  Also, their manure is good for compost and attracting beneficial bugs and birds. Their Scottish roots make them a hearty stock, comfortable in the cool Okanagan winters and known for their friendly temperament.

CedarCreek’s 2022 award winning wines include:

  • CedarCreek 2019 Aspect Collection Block 5 Chardonnay
  • CedarCreek 2020 Aspect Collection Block 3 Riesling
  • CedarCreek 2020 Platinum Jagged Rock Chardonnay
  • CedarCreek 2020 Platinum Jagged Rock Syrah
  • CedarCreek 2021 Pinot Noir Rosé
  • CedarCreek 2021 Platinum Home Block Riesling

La Frenz Estate Winery (5th at The National Wine Awards)

La Frenz was the Small Winery of the Year at the 2017 National Wine Awards. They are located on the Naramata Bench in the heart of the Okanagan Valley.  Over time the winery has grown to encompass 17 hectares across four different vineyard sites, each with its own distinctive soils and aspects.

Their 2022 award winning wines include:

  • La Frenz 2018 Aster Brut
  • La Frenz 2019 Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard
  • La Frenz 2019 Grand Total Reserve
  • La Frenz 2019 Malbec Rockyfeller Vineyard
  • La Frenz 2019 Syrah Rockyfeller Vineyard
  • La Frenz 2020 Pinot Noir Desperation Hill Vineyard
  • La Frenz 2020 Reserve Vivant
  • La Frenz 2021 Riesling Cl. 49 Rockyfeller Vineyard
  • La Frenz 2021 Semillon Knorr Vineyard
  • La Frenz Liqueur Muscat

Mission Hill Family Estate (4th at The National Wine Awards)

Mission Hill is the only winery to appear on both my 2020 and 2021 Movers and Shakers list.

Mission Hill follows organic farming practices.  Bees, falcon, and chickens replace pesticides and insecticides. Cover crops, earthworms and compost are used in place of chemical fertilizers.

Their practices are fundamentally rooted in Old World techniques supported with modern technology.  The winemaking team continuously innovates, combining fermentation and maturation vessel traditions with future trends.

The 2022 award winning wines includes:

  • Mission Hill 2020 Perpetua Chardonnay
  • Mission Hill 2020 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Mission Hill 2020 Reserve Merlot
  • Mission Hill 2020 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Syrah
  • Mission Hill 2021 Reserve Riesling

SpearHead Winery (3rd at The National Wine Awards)

SpearHead was named Best Performing Small Winery at this year’s National Wine Awards.  Their focus is on premium quality wine produced from grapes grown on their estate vineyard and from selected Okanagan Valley vineyards. The hand harvested grapes are sorted at the winery and fermented in small lots.

Approximately 80% of the 15 acres of vines is comprised of Pinot Noir, including four different Dijon clones, 2 California heritage clones and Pommard.  This combination of plantings enables their wine maker to select from the different characteristics exhibited by the clones in order to create a harmonious, complex Pinot Noir from the home vineyard.  They also draw from several other vineyards in the Okanagan including Golden Retreat in Summerland and Coyote Vineyard in West Kelowna.

They have extended their wine making methods to other varietals including Chardonnay, which is made from a single clone. 

Spearhead’s 2022 award winning wines include:

  • SpearHead 2019 Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling
  • SpearHead 2019 Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir
  • SpearHead 2019 Golden Retreat Pinot Noir
  • SpearHead 2019 Pinot Noir Cuvée
  • SpearHead 2020 Clone 95 Chardonnay
  • SpearHead 2020 Club Consensus Pinot Noir
  • SpearHead 2020 Pinot Gris Golden Retreat Vineyard
  • SpearHead 2020 Riesling
  • SpearHead 2020 Saddle Block Chardonnay

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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.

Sláinte mhaith

The Wine of the North

When you think of Ontario wines, Niagara and Prince Edward County usually come to mind, but there is one of international notoriety near Tweed.  Potter Settlement Artisan Winery has award-winning wine and has been putting Tweed on the map as a good place to grow grapes.

Owner Sandor Johnson says the winery is very small but has been making great strides to create high-end, boutique quality wines.  His team produces 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 in the cooler climate of Tweed and they never buy finished wine from elsewhere.  If the grapes are not grown on site, the wine label will indicate where they were grown.

As one of the northernmost vineyards in Canada, 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 makes a unique wine that was accidently discovered during the McClure Arctic Expedition in 1850.  The wine, referred to as Portage, was named in honour of the sailors who pulled barrels of Port across the ice after their ship’s passage through the Northwest Passage was halted by winter weather.

One of the expedition’s participants was Henry Gaun, at that time the ship’s carpenter, and who eventually settled near Tweed in Ivanhoe, and is the founder of Ivanhoe cheese.  Gaun had recorded in his diaries how he and the other sailors created Portage.  The Port that they had taken with them on their journey froze.  They discovered that when the Port froze due to the extreme cold, the bitter acids disappeared making the port very smooth to drink.  Then the Arctic summertime midnight sun cooked the port in the barrels.  According to the diaries, the resulting wine was fit for Queen Victoria’s consumption.  Based on what Johnson read he felt compelled to recreate Portage.

Another example of Potter Settlement’s creativity is their Triple Rare Ferment Chardonnay, which was aged in barrels made of wood from Ontario butternut and extinct American chestnut trees.  In order to make the chestnut barrels, logs had to be salvaged from the bottom of Lake Superior.

At Great Britain’s 2022 London Wine Competition, Potter Settlement was awarded gold medals for the Potter Settlement Cabernet Franc and Potter Settlement Portage fortified wine. Each received 92 out of a possible 100 points.  Last year Potter Settlement won two gold medals and a silver in a competition in Bordeaux, France, at the Challenge International Du Vin competition.  They were the only Canadian winner of the 3,579 wine entries from 27 countries.  They won gold for their Marquette and Pinot Noir, and silver for their Cabernet Franc.

Construction has started to make a cave in the rock on the property that will be used to store the wine.  Once completed Potter Settlement will be the only winery in Ontario with a real cave.  They plan to rent storage space to high-end wineries.

Unfortunately, I have not been able to find any indication of Potter Settlement wines ever being for sale in wine stores.  However, their wines are available on their website at pottersettlementwines.ca or by visiting them, as I did, at the winery near Tweed, Ontario.  I found the wine tasting, which was hosted by Sandor Johnson, to be both entertaining and educational.  As well, I got to sample some excellent, unique wines; several of which have now found a home in my cellar.

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The 2022 All Canadian Wine Championships

At this year’s All Canadian Wine Championships there were a total of 1,233 wines from 194 participating wineries.  Unlike the National Wine Awards where there is a significant amount of emphasis on the wineries producing the wine, the total focus of the All Canadian is on the wines themselves.

The summary of this year’s results by province is as follows:

British Columbia – 751 entries

  • 2 Trophies
  • 31 Double Gold
  • 81 Gold
  • 75 Silver
  • 88 Bronze

Ontario – 372 entries

  • 3 Trophies
  • 20 Double Gold
  • 32 Gold
  • 32 Silver
  • 37 Bronze

Quebec – 34 entries

  • 1 Trophy
  • 3 Double Gold
  • 7 Gold
  • 6 Silver
  • 4 Bronze

Nova Scotia – 37 entries

  • 3 Double Gold
  • 2 Gold
  • 2 Silver
  • 3 Bronze

New Brunswick – 11 entries

  • 2 Gold
  • 1 Silver
  • 2 Bronze

Alberta – 13 entries

  • 2 Silver
  • 1 Bronze

Manitoba – 4 entries

  • 1 Bronze

Saskatchewan – 11 entries

  • 3 Silver

The trophy winning wines for 2022 are as follows:

Best Red Wine of the Year was awarded to Wesbert Winery Ltd., of Penticton, British Columbia for their 2020 Syrah ($37.89).

Best White Wine of the Year went to Thirty Bench Wines, of Beamsville, Ontario for their 2019 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard ($32.00).

Niagara College Teaching Wineryfrom Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario received the Best Sparkling Wine of the Year award for its N/V Balance Brut ($26.95).

The Oliver, British Columbia winery of Jackson-Triggs received the award for Best Dessert Wine of the Year for their 2018 Okanagan Reserve Riesling Icewine ($60.00).

Best Fruit Wine of the Year was presented to La Vallée de la Framboise Inc., of Val-Brillant , Quebec for their N/V  Douce Anna ($20.00).

Thornbury Craft Co. from Thornbury, Ontario was awarded Best Cider of the Year for their N/V Premium Craft Apple Cider ($3.50).

Award winning wines could receive a Double Gold, Gold, Silver or Bronze award.  The Double Gold and Gold awards are listed here.  A complete listing of award winners is available on the All Canadian Wine Championships website at https://allcanadianwinechampionships.com/acwc-2022-results/

Sparkling Wine-Traditional Method

Gold

  • Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery, BC – 2018 The Pink One ($45.99)  
  • Silhouette Estate Winery, BC – 2018 Boyd Classic Cuvee ($42.99)  
  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery, BC – N/V Cipes Brut Rosé ($40.25)  
  • TIME Family of Wines, BC – N/V Chronos Brut ($34.99)  

Sparkling Wine–Charmat Method

Double Gold

  • TIME Family of Wines, BC – N/V Evolve Cellars Effervescence ($24.99)

Gold

  • Creekside Estate Winery Ltd., ON – 2019 Backyard Block Bubbly ($29.80)
  • Diamond Estate Wines, ON – N/V Fresh Sparkling Rose ($17.75)
  • Three Sisters Winery, BC – 2021 Pretty Women ($21.65)

Sparkling Wine–Frizzante Method

Double Gold

  • Moraine Winery, BC – 2021 Shipuchka Frizzante ($31.05)

Gold

  • Intrigue Wines, BC – N/V I DO ($20.90)
  • Play Winery, BC – 2021 Teatro ($33.34)
  • Intrigue Wines, BC – 2021 SOCIAL Sparkling ($20.90)

Chardonnay, Unoaked

Double Gold

  • TIME Family of Wines, BC – 2020 Chronos Chardonnay ($29.99)

Gold

  • Gray Monk Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Chardonnay Unwooded ($22.99)
  • Pelee Island Winery, ON – 2019 Ring Necked Pheasant Chardonnay Unoaked ($12.25)

Chardonnay Under $20

Double Gold

  • Colio Estate Wines, ON – 2020 Reserve Chardonnay ($19.95)

Gold

  • Trius Estate Winery, ON – 2020 Distinction Chardonnay Barrel Fermented ($19.75)

 Chardonnay $20.01-$30.00

Double Gold

  • Three Sisters Winery, BC – 2020 Chardonnay ($21.65)

Gold

  • Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, BC – 2020 Reserve Chardonnay ($26.00)
  • Harper’s Trail Estate Winery, BC – 2019 Chardonnay ($24.14)
  • Monte Creek Winery, BC – 2020 Living Land Chardonnay ($21.99)

Chardonnay Over $30.00

Double Gold

  • SpearHead Winery, BC – 2020 Clone 95 Chardonnay ($34.50)

Gold

  • Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery, BC – 2019 King’s Ransom Chardonnay ($57.50)
  • Covert Farms Family Estate, BC – 2020 Grand Reserve Chardonnay ($65.00)
  • SpearHead Winery, BC – 2020 Saddle Block Chardonnay ($34.50)
  • Dark Horse Vineyard, BC – 2020 Chardonnay ($46.00)

Riesling Dry

Double Gold 

  • Niagara College Teaching Winery, ON – 2020 Balance Dry Riesling ($16.95)

Gold

  • Four Shadows Vineyard, BC – 2021 Riesling Dry ($27.59)

Riesling Off Dry

Gold

  • TIME Family of Wines, BC – 2020 Chronos Riesling ($27.99)
  • Andrew Peller Estates Winery, ON – 2019 Signature Series Riesling ($29.75)
  • Thirty Bench Wines, ON – 2019 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask ($32.00)
  • Thirty Bench Wines, ON – 2020 Winemaker’s Blend Riesling ($22.75)

Sauvignon Blanc

Double Gold

  • Gehringer Bros. Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Dry Rock Sauvignon Blanc ($20.69)

Gold

  • Dirty Laundry Vineyard, BC – 2021 Sauvignon Blanc ($20.99)
  • Three Sisters Winery, BC – 2021 Sauvignon Blanc ($19.05)
  • Featherstone Estate Winery, ON – 2021 Sauvignon Blanc ($17.95)

Gewürztraminer

Double Gold

  • Priest Creek Family Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Gewürztraminer ($27.00)

Gold

  • Moraine Winery, BC – 2021 Gewürztraminer ($26.45)
  • Ruby Blues Winery, BC – 2021 Gewürztraminer ($25.90)
  • Wesbert Winery Ltd., BC – 2021 Gewürztraminer ($26.39)

Pinot Gris Style

Double Gold

  • Joseph’s Estate Wines Inc., ON – 2020 Rosato ($18.95)

Gold

  • Deep Roots Winery, BC – 2021 Pinot Gris ($21.90)
  • Savard Vines, BC – 2021 Forgotten Child Pinot Gris ($19.00)
  • Enrico Winery, BC – 2021 Pinot Gris Shining Armour ($24.50)
  • Legends Estates Winery, ON – 2019 Pinot Gris Barrel Fermented ($19.80)
  • Clos du Soleil Winery Inc., BC – 2021 Pinot Gris ($27.49)

Pinot Grigio Style

Double Gold

  • Featherstone Estate Winery, ON – 2021 Pinot Grigio ($17.95)

Gold

  • Kismet Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Pinot Grigio ($25.29)

Viognier

Double Gold

  • Bench 1775, BC – 2021 Viognier ($25.00)

Gold

  • Dirty Laundry Vineyard, BC – 2021 Viognier ($21.99)
  • Country Vines Winery, BC – 2019 Viognier ($21.99)

Other Single Vitis Vinifera Whites

Double Gold

  • Chaberton Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Estate Grown Bacchus ($20.75)

Gold

  • Moon Curser Vineyards, BC – 2021 Arneis ($31.04)
  • Alderlea Vineyards, BC – 2021 Bacchus ($23.00)
  • Forbidden Fruit Winery, BC – 2021 Dead End Gruner Veltliner ($23.00)
  • Gehringer Bros. Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Old Vines Auxerrois ($18.39)
  • Upper Bench Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Pinot Blanc ($25.40)

White Vitis Vinifera Blends

Double Gold

  • Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery, BC – 2021 Mingle ($21.26)

Gold

  • Moraine Winery, BC – 2021 Cliffhanger White ($24.15)
  • Three Sisters Winery, BC – 2021 Bench White ($16.44)
  • Lakeside Cellars, BC – 2021 Portage White ($24.25)
  • Skimmerhorn Winery & Vineyard, BC – 2021 Autumn Tryst ($20.00)
  • Valley of the Springs Winery, BC – 2021 Vista ($24.15)

Single White Hybrids

Double Gold

  • Whispering Horse Winery, BC – 2021 La Crescent ($31.00)

Gold

  • Enrico Winery, BC – 2020 Petit Milo Coronet ($24.50)

White Hybrid Blends

Double Gold

  • Planters Ridge Winery, NS – 2021 Tidal Bay ($22.80)

Gold

  • Domaine de Grand Pré, NS – 2021 Tidal Bay ($23.00)
  • Vignoble de l’Orpailleur, QC – 2021 Vignoble de l’Orpailleur Blanc ($16.00)

Pet Nat and Orange Wines

Double Gold

  • Joseph’s Estate Wines Inc., ON – 2019 Arancia Skin Fermented Gewurztraminer ($34.95)

Gold

  • Pilliteri Estates Winery, ON – 2020 Racina Ambra Skin Fermented Gewurztraminer ($25.00)

Rosé Blush and Blanc de Noir

Double Gold Blanc de Noir Style

  • TIME Family of Wines, BC – 2021 Chronos Rosé ($27.99)

Double Gold Blush Style

  • Road 13 Vineyards, BC – 2021 Honest John’s Rosé ($23.00)

Gold

  • Bench 1775, BC – 2021 Glow ($26.00)
  • Thirty Bench Wines, ON – 2021 Winemaker’s Blend Rosé ($22.75)
  • Gehringer Bros. Estate Winery, BC – 2021 Rosé ($18.39)
  • Vanessa Vineyard, BC – 2021 Rosé ($29.99)
  • Sonora Desert Winery, BC – 2021 White Merlot ($25.00)
  • Hillside Cellars Winery, BC – 2021 Rosé ($25.00)
  • Three Sisters Winery, BC – 2021 Rosé ($19.05)
  • Ruby Blues Winery, BC – 2021 I Found My Thrill Rosé ($28.90)

Cabernet Sauvignon Under $30

Double Gold

  • Chaberton Estate Winery, BC – 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ($29.95)

Gold

  • Sprucewood Shores Inc., ON – 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ($17.95)

Cabernet Sauvignon Over $30

Double Gold

  • Sunrock Vineyards, BC – 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon ($34.49)

Gold

  • Diamond Estate Wines, ON – Lakeview Cellars 2017 Cabernet Sauvignon ($39.80)
  • Muscedere Vineyards Estate Winery Inc, ON – 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon ($31.75)
  • Nk’Mip Cellars, BC – 2019 Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon ($45.99)

Merlot Under $30

Double Gold

  • Andrew Peller Estates Winery, ON  – 2020 Private Reserve Merlot ($26.75)

Gold

  • Deep Roots Winery, BC – 2020 Merlot ($29.90)
  • Colio Estate Wines, ON – 2020 Reserve Merlot $19.95

Merlot Over $30

Double Gold

  • Upper Bench Estate Winery, BC – 2018 Estate Merlot ($51.75)

Gold

  • Liquidity Wines Ltd., BC – 2020 ALTO Reserve Merlot ($35.00)
  • Nk’Mip Cellars, BC – 2019 Qwam Qwmt Merlot ($40.24)
  • Intersection Estate Winery, BC – 2017 Alluvia Unfiltered Merlot ($32.20)

Pinot Noir Under $30

Double Gold

  • Keint-he Winery and Vineyards Ltd., ON – 2019 Portage Pinot Noir ($28.00)

Gold

  • Gray Monk Estate Winery, BC – 2020 Pinot Noir ($28.75)

Pinot Noir Over $30

Double Gold

  • Queenstonmile Vineyard, ON – 2017 Pinot Noir ($39.80)

Gold

  • Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, BC – 2019 Pinot Noir Reserve ($48.00)
  • Wild Goose Vineyards, BC – 2020 Pinot Noir ($38.00)
  • Privato Vineyard & Winery, BC – 2019 Woodward Collection – Tesoro Pinot Noir ($47.14)
  • Hainle Vyds Estate Winery, BC – 2020 Pinot Noir ($39.09)

Cabernet Franc Under $30

Double Gold

  • Monte Creek Winery, BC – 2020 Living Land Cabernet Franc ($22.99)

Gold

  • Thirty Bench Wines, ON – 2020 Winemaker’s Blend Cabernet Franc ($24.75)

Cabernet Franc Over $30

Double Gold

  • Two Sisters Vineyards, ON – 2017 Cabernet Franc ($57.80)

Gold

  • Play Winery, BC – 2020 Cabernet Franc ($44.83)
  • Dark Horse Vineyard, BC – 2018 Cabernet Franc ($51.75)
  • Frind Estate Winery, BC – 2020 Premier Cabernet Franc ($40.24)
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery, BC – 2019 Cabernet Franc ($31.99)

Bordeaux Blends Under $30

Double Gold

  • Indigenous World Winery, BC – 2019 Hee-Hee-Tel-Kin Red Blend ($28.74)

Gold

  • Monte Creek Winery, BC – 2019 Living Land Cabernet Merlot ($23.99)
  • Bordertown Estate Winery and Vineyard, BC – 2019 Living Desert Red ($27.00)
  • Persona, ON – N/V Cabernet Merlot ($12.75)
  • Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery, BC – 2020 Noble Meritage ($28.74)
  • Sprucewood Shores Inc., ON – N/V Beach Glass Red ($19.95)
  • See Ya Later Ranch, BC – 2019 Ping Meritage ($28.73)

Bordeaux Blends Over $30

Double Gold

Magnotta Winery, ON – 2017 Enotrium Gran Riserva ($59.95)

Gold

  • Blasted Church Wines, BC – 2017 Nectar of the Gods ($75.00)
  • Phantom Creek Estates, BC – 2019 Phantom Creek Vineyard Cuvée ($150.00)
  • Kismet Estate Winery, BC – 2020 Mantra ($39.18)
  • Noble Ridge Vineyard and Winery, BC – 2017 King’s Ransom Meritage ($80.50)
  • Van Westen Vineyards, BC – 2018 V ($39.90)

Syrah/Shiraz Under $30

Double Gold

  • Lakeside Cellars, BC – 2018 Syrah ($28.85)

Gold

  • See Ya Later Ranch, BC – 2019 Rover ($25.29)

Syrah/Shiraz Over $30

Gold

  • Deep Roots Winery, BC – 2020 Syrah ($38.90)
  • Kacaba Vineyards, ON – 2019 Premium Series Terraced Vineyard Syrah ($34.95)
  • Kacaba Vineyards, ON – 2019 Premium Series Proprietors Block Syrah ($34.95)

Single Red Hybrids

Double Gold

  • Mercator Vineyards, NS – N/V Reserve Marquette ($34.80)

Gold

  • Domaine de Grand Pré, NS – 2019 Castel ($21.00)
  • Karlo Estates, ON – 2020 Marquette ($36.00)

Red Hybrid Blends

Double Gold

  • Jost Vineyards, NS – N/V Great Big Friggin’ Red ($17.79)

Gold

  • Volcanic Hills Vineyard & Cellars, BC – 2019 Magma Red ($23.99)
  • Monte Creek Winery, BC – 2020 Hands Up Red ($19.99)

Other Single Red Vitis Vinifera

Double Gold

  • Moon Curser Vineyards, BC – 2020 Touriga Nacional ($50.59)

Gold

  • Kalala Organic Estate Winery, BC – 2019 Zweigelt ($26.00)
  • Moon Curser Vineyards, BC – 2018 Tannat ($50.59)

Other Red Vitis Vinifera Blends

Double Gold

  • Good Natured Okanagan, BC – 2020 Balanced Red ($18.40)

Gold

  • Road 13 Vineyards, BC – 2019 GSM ($37.00)
  • Forbidden Fruit Winery, BC – 2019 Dead End Game Over Tannat Malbec ($40.00)
  • Savard Vines, BC – N/V 5 Turns ($26.00)

Malbec

Double Gold

  • Eau Vivre Winery, BC – 2019 Malbec ($39.90)

Gold

  • Moon Curser Vineyards, BC – 2020 Malbec ($40.24)

Gamay

Double Gold

  • Byland Estate Winery, ON – 2020 Gamay Noir Owner Signature Version ($34.80)

Gold

  • Volcanic Hills Vineyard & Cellars, BC – 2020 Gamay Noir ($20.50)

Soft Fruit Dry

Double Gold

  • Northern Lights Estate Winery Ltd., BC – 2018 Bell Reserve ($24.34)

Gold

  • Winegarden Estates Ltd., NB – 2020 Rubina, dry Blueberry Wine ($12.00)

Soft Fruit Off-Dry

Double Gold

  • Applewood Farm Winery, ON – 2021 Trio ($17.95)

Gold

  • Maan Farms Estate Winery, BC – 2020 Blueberry ($23.00)
  • Applewood Farm Winery, ON – 2021 Eden ($16.95)

Soft Fruit Dessert

Double Gold

  • La Vallée de la Framboise Inc., QC – N/V Le Matapédien ($18.00)

Gold

  • Krause Berry Farms and Estate Winery, BC – N/V Blackberry Portoe ($40.25)

Late Harvests

Double Gold

  • Pilliteri Estates Winery, ON – 2017 Cana Cabin Riesling Late Harvest ($25.00)

Gold

  • Thirty Bench Wines, ON – 2019 Special Select Late Harvest ($40.00)

Riesling Icewine

Gold

  • Inniskillin Okanagan, BC – 2018 Okanagan Estate Riesling Icewine ($60.02)

Vidal Icewine

Double Gold

  • Wayne Gretzky Estates, ON – 2019 No.99 Vidal Icewine ($79.85)

Gold

  • Andrew Peller Estates Winery, ON – 2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine ($79.85)
  • Pilliteri Estates Winery, ON – 2017 Cana Cabin Premium Vidal Icewine ($70.00)

Other Icewine

Double Gold

  • Pilliteri Estates Winery, ON – 2017 Canadian Flower Pinot Blanc Icewine ($70.00)

Gold

  • Bench 1775, BC – 2020 Paradise Ranch Chardonnay Ice Wine ($71.00)

Red Icewines

Double Gold

  • Magnotta Winery, ON – 2018 Cabernet Franc Icewine Niagara Peninsula Limited Edition ($44.95)

Gold

  • Andrew Peller Estates Winery, ON – 2018 Cabernet Franc Icewine ($114.90)

Grape Fortifieds

Double Gold

  • Legends Estates Winery, ON – N/V Last Barrel Red ($59.80)

Gold

  • Legends Estates Winery, ON – N/V Last Barrel Red Liquid Gold ($99.80)

Sláinte mhaith

The 2022 National Wine Awards

The WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC) is Canada’s largest and most respected competition for wines which are one hundred percent grown and produced in Canada. Niagara Falls, Ontario was the host of this year’s event, which took place from June 19th to 23rd, with results published on July 29th.

This year’s awards were the first to be conducted since 2019 without the influence or restrictions from the pandemic. 

There were 24 judges who tasted 1,890 entries from more than 250 wineries. The entries came from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

The wines were all served blind; producer, origin, and price were not revealed to the judges. The top medalists were tasted in multiple rounds by many different judges.

The top ten wineries are presented below, along with a listing of their Platinum and Gold medal wines.  For a complete listing of all the winning wines please see the Canadian Wine Awards website, at www.winealign.com/awards.

The 2022 winery of the year is CedarCreek Estate Winery, located in East Kelowna, British Columbia.  The winery first opened in 1980, then known as Uniacke Wines. In 1986 it was purchased by the Fitzpatrick family, who changed the name to CedarCreek, and began planting some of the earliest pinot noir vines in the valley.

Over five years ago CedarCreek embarked on a massive refit converting the family-owned Estate vineyards to organic farming that encompasses every aspect of the winery, from regenerative farming and sustainable viticulture to farm-to-bottle craftsmanship in their wine cellar.  As of 2021, all vineyards were Ecocert certified.

CedarCreek has partnered with local environmentalists to collect native plant seeds from the property – the seeds are used for fundraising, for native plant re-establishment on other sites, and at the boundaries of new vineyards to support biodiversity.

The estate is the home of five Scottish Highland Cows, a flock of chickens, beehives, worm farms and cover crops to create a thriving ecosystem.

CedarCreek was awarded two Platinum Medals, four Gold, eight Silver and five Bronze.

Platinum Medal

  • CedarCreek Platinum Jagged Rock Syrah 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • CedarCreek Aspect Collection Block 5 Chardonnay 2019, Okanagan Valley

Gold Medal

  • CedarCreek Platinum Jagged Rock Chardonnay 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • CedarCreek Aspect Collection Block 3 Riesling 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • CedarCreek Pinot Noir Rose 2021, Okanagan Valley
  • CedarCreek Platinum Home Block Riesling 2021, Okanagan Valley

Rounding out the top ten producers for 2022 were the following wineries:

The second-place finisher was Ontario’s 13th Street Winery, who was awarded 2 Platinum, 2 Gold, 7 Silver and 9 Bronze medals.

Platinum Medal

  • 13th Street Reserve Syrah 2020, Niagara Peninsula
  • 13th Street Premier Cuvee 2015, Niagara Peninsula

Gold Medal

  • 13th Street Gamay 2020, Niagara Peninsula
  • 13th Street Blanc De Blanc 2019, Niagara Peninsula

Third was British Columbia’s SpearHead Winery that had 1 Platinum, 7 Gold, 3 Silver and 5 Bronze medals.

Platinum Medal

  • Spearhead Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir 2019, Okanagan Valley

Gold Medal

  • Spearhead Botrytis Affected Late Harvest Riesling 2019, Okanagan Valley (375ml)
  • Spearhead Pinot Noir Cuvée 2019, Okanagan Valley
  • Spearhead Golden Retreat Pinot Noir 2019, Okanagan Valley
  • Spearhead Pinot Gris Golden Retreat Vineyard 2020, Okanagan Valley

In fourth position was British Columbia’s Mission Hill Family Estate which earned 1 Platinum, 4 Gold and 9 Silver medals.

Platinum Medal

  • Mission Hill Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Syrah 2020, Okanagan Valley

Gold Medal

  • Mission Hill Reserve Riesling 2021, Okanagan Valley
  • Mission Hill Perpetua Chardonnay 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • Mission Hill Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • Mission Hill Reserve Merlot 2020, Okanagan Valley

The fifth-place winery was British Columbia’s La Frenz Estate Winery which won 1 Platinum, 9 Gold and 8 Silver medals.

Platinum Medal

  • La Frenz Syrah Rockyfeller Vineyard 2019, Okanagan Valley

Gold Medal

  • La Frenz Malbec Rockyfeller Vineyard 2019, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Grand Total Reserve 2019, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Aster Brut 2018, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Reserve Vivant 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Pinot Noir Desperation Hill Vineyard 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Semillon Knorr Vineyard 2021, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Riesling Cl. 49 Rockyfeller Vineyard 2021, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard 2019, Okanagan Valley
  • La Frenz Liqueur Muscat, Okanagan Valley (375ml)

The sixth-place finisher was Ontario’s Vieni Estates which had 1 Platinum, 4 Gold, 2 Silver and 9 Bronze medals.

Platinum Medal

  • Vieni Riesling 2020, Vinemount Ridge

Gold Medal

  • Vieni Cabernet Franc 2018, Vinemount Ridge
  • Vieni Cabernet Franc Reserve 2017, Vinemount Ridge
  • Vieni Pinot Grigio 2021, Vinemount Ridge
  • Vieni Unoaked Chardonnay 2019, Vinemount Ridge

In seventh position was British Columbia’s Black Hills Estate Winery, with a record of 1 Platinum, 5 Gold, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.

Platinum Medal

  • Black Hills Ipso Facto 2020, Okanagan Valley

Gold Medal

  • Black Hills Per Se 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • Black Hills Chardonnay 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • Black Hills Roussanne 2020, Okanagan Valley
  • Black Hills Addendum 2020, BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  • Black Hills Alibi 2021, Okanagan Valley

The eighth spot went to British Columbia’s Fort Berens Estate Winery which earned 1 Platinum, 3 Gold, 2 Silver and 6 Bronze medals.

Platinum Medal

  • Fort Berens Pinot Noir 2020

Gold Medal

  • Fort Berens Small Lot Grüner Veltliner 2021, Lillooet
  • Fort Berens Merlot Reserve 2019, Lillooet
  • Fort Berens Merlot 2019

The ninth-place position went to British Columbia’s Bordertown Vineyards & Estate Winery which had 1 Platinum, 3 Gold, 3 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.

Platinum Medal

  • Bordertown Cabernet Sauvignon 2019, Okanagan Valley

Gold Medal

  • Bordertown Cabernet Franc 2019, BC VQA Okanagan Valley
  • Bordertown Malbec 2019, Okanagan Valley
  • Bordertown Syrah 2019, Okanagan Valley

Earning the tenth spot was Ontario’s Thirty Bench Wine Makers with 6 Gold, 7 Silver and 1 Bronze medal.

Gold Medal

  • Thirty Bench Winemaker’s Blend Cabernet Franc 2020, Niagara Peninsula
  • Thirty Bench Special Select Late Harvest 2019 (375ml)
  • Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard 2019, VQA Beamsville Bench
  • Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard 2020, VQA Beamsville Bench
  • Thirty Bench Small Lot Pinot Noir 2020, VQA Beamsville Bench
  • Thirty Bench Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard 2019, VQA Beamsville Bench

The best performing small winery award goes to the winery with a production of 10,000 cases or less that chalked up the highest aggregate score for its five top-scoring wines.  This year the award was presented to the Okanagan Valley’s SpearHead Winery.  SpearHead 2019 Coyote Vineyard Pinot Noir took a coveted Platinum Medal.  In addition to this, SpearHead wines received seven Gold, three Silver and five Bronze medals.

Sláinte mhaith

Ontario’s Sustainable Wineries

The spirit of sustainability in Ontario starts with VQA (see Selecting Canadian Wines from June 22, 2019) in that the wines must be 100% locally crafted with 100% Ontario-grown grapes.  This helps to reduce the environmental footprint.

There are now thirteen Sustainable Winemaking Ontario Certified (SWO) wineries.  These wineries have had to adapt a rigorous, comprehensive program of environmentally responsible technologies and practices.  Certified wineries are audited annually by a third-party in the following 3 areas:

Environment

  • Water conservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Recycling
  • Reducing
  • Reusing

Economy

  • Production of VQA wines
  • Local material sourcing

Community

  • Community leadership
  • Social responsibility
  • Being a good neighbour

The wines produced by SWO wineries will display a green-leaf logo on the bottle.

Ontario’s SWO wineries are identified in alphabetical order below.

Cave Spring Vineyard (Niagara)

5-3836 Main Street

Jordan, Ontario, L0R 1S0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

Cave Spring uses a mixture of grasses to control weeds and erosion in the vineyard.  They also encourage endangered species like the brown bat to inhabit the areas of the vineyard.  The bats help to combat the insect population, eliminating the need for chemical pesticides.

Indigenous yeast is used in the wine’s fermentation process and the winery’s main warehouse is powered by solar panels.

Château des Charmes (Niagara)

1025 York Road, Niagara-on-the-Lake

St. David’s, Ontario, L0S 1P0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

Herbicides are never used at Château des Charmes.  Weeds are controlled by mechanically tilling the soil which chops them up and mixes them with the soil turning them into fertilizer.

The discarded stems, skins, seeds and unused grapes are returned to the land as a natural fertilizer.  Composted manure instead of chemical fertilizer is used to replenish nutrients in the soil.

Pest control is utilized only when necessary and, when possible, natural products like sulfur are used in the smallest possible quantities.

The cellars are temperature controlled using geothermal systems.  They are located 9 metres below ground and remain a consistent temperature and humidity throughout the year.

Gray water acquired after washing tanks and barrels is collected and pumped to a clay-lined lagoon onsite. This water is naturally filtered then used to water their lawns and gardens.

Natural cork is used because it is a sustainably farmed product and its production has a much lower carbon footprint than the production methods used to make aluminum screw caps.

The barrels are sourced from Programme for the Endorsement Forest Certification (PEFC) certified forests, utilizing raw materials that are often wasted during the stave milling process.

Flat Rock Cellars (Niagara)

2727 Seventh Avenue

Jordan, Ontario, L0R 1S0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

Flat Rock uses geothermal systems to heat and cool the winery.  They make use of gravity wherever possible throughout the wine making process to minimize energy use.  Their Green Roof Patio is located on top of the barrel cellar and warehouse, which is built into the geological structure of the landscape.  This lets Flat Rock take advantage of the naturally insulated underground space to age and store their wine.

Henry of Pelham Family Estate (Niagara)

1469 Pelham Rd., R.R. #1

St. Catharines, ON Canada L2R 6P7

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

The winery has been designed so that the various areas can be heated or cooled independently, often using outdoor air.  The stainless-steel storage tanks have been wrapped in foil-coated bubble wrap.

Henry of Pelham takes part in wetland restoration, biofiltration, reforestation and water conservation.  They also have a community fund-raising program and accept fund raising applications.

Hidden Bench Estate Winery (Niagara)

4152 Locust Lane

Beamsville, Ontario, L0R 1B0

SWO Winery Certified, Certified Organic

Geothermal energy is used to provide heating and cooling for both the building and winemaking processes.  There are also solar panels on the roof of their storage building which help reduce the need for power from the electrical grid.

Hidden Bench was one of the initial consumers of Bullfrog Power, Ontario’s first green electricity company. Bullfrog Power sources its electricity from wind turbines, solar and non-interventionist hydroelectric power so there is minimal impact on the environment.

There is a complimentary EV charging station at the winery which allows their visitors to charge their electric cars while there.

Hidden Bench uses recycled materials wherever possible in its product packaging.

Malivoire Wine Company (Niagara)

4260 King Street East

Beamsville, Ontario, L0R 1B0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

Sustainability has been a core pillar of the winemaking and wine-growing philosophy at Malivoire since their inception. They see the winery and vineyard as a wholistic system. They promote biodiversity and a healthy living vineyard that protects wildlife habitat by working to eliminate synthetic inputs.  Soil stability and fertility are important to them.

Pelee Island Winery (Lake Erie North Shore)

20 East West Road

Pelee Island, Ontario, N0R 1M0

SWO Winery Certified

Pelee Island uses a protocol for integrated pest management developed with support from World Wildlife Fund Canada (WWF). They are committed to the use of ecologically responsible pesticides and ‘all natural’ island grown fertilizer.

The winery has established a stewardship for a Red Cedar Savannah Forest that is unique to Pelee Island. Restoration efforts have saved this forest from extinction and allowed for new growth, as well as the acclimatization of dozens of unique habitats.  The winery plans to engage a in five-year study that will facilitate the total rehabilitation of this forest.

With investments in renewable energies, such as solar and wind power, recycling, water treatment facilities, composting, bio-dynamic sewage systems and organic farming, Pelee Island Winery plans to lead the way as an environmentally safe community.

Pillitteri Estates Winery (Niagara)

1696 Niagara Stone Road

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, L0S 1J0

SWO Winery Certified

As family farmers, Pillitteri know the importance of buying quality and locally sourced products. They support the economy of their local community which provides the best opportunity to purchase a quality product at the best price.  That is why Pillitteri Estates Winery has chosen to produce 100% locally grown wines that come from grapes grown in their community.

Reif Estate Winery (Niagara)

15608 Niagara Parkway

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, L0S 1J0

SWO Winery Certified

There are no details regarding sustainability practices provided on Reif’s website.

Southbrook Organic Vineyards (Niagara)

581 Niagara Stone Rd.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, L0S 1J0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified, Certified Organic, Biodynamic, & LEED Certified

Southbrook understands the importance of organic and biodynamic viticulture and focuses on the soil, water and ecosystems for producing their wine.  Their certifications include Demeter, ECOCERT Canada, LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Sustainable Winemaking Ontario, and VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance).

Organic agriculture uses natural inputs. It uses less water, less energy, no synthetic pesticides, no chemical fertilizer, no bioengineering and no genetic modification. Organic agriculture results in more biodiversity, conserves more water and improves soil health. The entire 150-acre property is certified organic and biodynamic.  

Southbrook’s hospitality pavilion became the first winery building to receive the Gold level of LEED.  Natural light prevails in the hospitality pavilion, while the floor-to-ceiling double-glazed windows control temperature transfer. The walls are thoroughly insulated, while deep roof overhangs give added shade to the building. Indoor water usage is controlled by automatic and low-flow fixtures. Externally, there is a bioswale with native wetland plants to break down pollution from stormwater draining off the access road and parking lots.

Southbrook gives back to the community through donations of facilities, labour and wine.  They have committed tens of thousands of dollars to charity.

Stratus (Niagara)

2059 Niagara Stone Rd.

Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ontario, L0S 1J0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified, LEED Certified

In 2005, Stratus was the first winery in Canada to earn LEED certification (see my post on LEED Certification in the Wine Industry from October 23, 2021).  They recycle vine trunks and cuttings using a technique called pyrolysis, which processes green matter into biochar by heating it in an oxygen-reduced self-contained chamber.  The biochar is then added to the compost pile and eventually circulated back into the vineyard.

Strewn Winery (Niagara)

1339 Lakeshore Rd.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

Strewn’s web site indicates that the winery is a certified sustainable winery but provides no other details.

Vineland Estate Winery (Niagara)

3620 Moyer Rd.

Vineland, Ontario, L0R 2C0

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

Vineland’s sustainability efforts have included switching from conventional to LED lighting.  Timers and motion sensors have been installed. Equipment has been upgraded to be more energy efficient.

Water usage has been reduced as a result of changing their cleaning procedures and changing to low-flow water taps where possible.  They have also taken other measures to reduce wastewater and waste in general.

From a community perspective, Vineland supports fair wages and working conditions.  They also support several charitable organizations through their Legacy and Game Changer programs.

Final Thoughts

Although the number of sustainable wineries in Ontario is increasing, the vast majority are still not sustainable.  Given the seriousness of our environmental challenges, the wine industry, like so many others, still has a long way to go before we begin to see a real positive impact. 

Sláinte mhaith

2022 Ontario Wine Awards

Photo credit: ontariowineawards.ca

After a 3-year hiatus thanks to COVID, this spring saw the return of the Ontario Wine Awards. There were participants from over 80 wineries and more than 500 of the best VQA wines that Ontario has to offer.

A special award was introduced this year to honour the memory of Tawse Winery winemaker, Paul Pender, who was tragically killed earlier this year. The inaugural Paul Pender Memorial ‘Rising Star’ Award was presented to Alec Baines, winemaker at Hidden Bench Winery.  Alec was selected by a committee of his peers for having demonstrated the qualities that made Paul Pender a winemaker’s winemaker – talent, selfless generosity, mentorship and innovation.

The Winemaker of the Year Award was posthumously presented to Paul Pender.  Tawse was where Paul honed his skills and talents as a winemaker. 

The results of this year’s competition were as follows:

White Wine of The Year

Domaine Queylus La Grande Réserve Chardonnay 2020

Deep golden colour; intense apple and pear bouquet with oak spice and a thread of minerality; medium to full-bodied, with the richly extracted yellow apple and pear flavours carried on lively lemony acidity to a long, lingering finish.

Red Wine of The Year

Peninsula Ridge Reserve Syrah 2016

Deep purple-ruby in colour; cedary, toasty, meaty nose of blackberries and vanilla oak; medium to full-bodied, dry, spicy, well-structured and harmonious black fruit flavours. Reminiscent of Syrah from the northern Rhône.

Sparkling Wine (traditional method) Award

Gold

  • Malivoire Bisous Rosé N/V
  • Pelee Island Empress II 2019

Silver

  • Huff Estate Cuvee Janine 2018

Bronze

  • Huff Estate Cuvee Peter F. Huff 2018
  • Queenston Mile Vineyard Blanc de Noir 2017

Riesling Dry Award

Gold

  • Wending Home Estate Vineyards Riesling 2020

Silver

  • Niagara Teaching Winery Balance Dry Riesling 2020

Bronze

  • Strewn Winery Terroir Riesling 2019

Semi-Dry Riesling Award

Gold:

  • Vineland Estates St. Urban Elevation Riesling 2021
  • Thirty Bench Winemakers Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask 2019
  • Tawse Quarry Road Riesling 2019

Silver:

  • Redstone Limestone Riesling 2020

Pinot Gris Award

Gold

  • Dim Wine Co. Forged Pinot Gris 2017
  • Big Head Wines Pinot Gris Select 2017

Silver

  • Lakeview East Dell Pinot Grigio 2020

Bronze

  • Konzelmann Estate Pinot Grigio 2019

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award

Gold

  • Creekside Estate Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc 2021
  • Burnt Ship Bay Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Silver

  • Palatine Hills Estate Wild & Free White Meritage 2020
  • Ravine Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2020
  • Peller Estate Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Bronze

  • Trius Showcase Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2019
  • Vineland Estates Sauvignon Blanc 2021

Unoaked Chardonnay Award

Gold

  • Peninsula Ridge Inox Chardonnay 2020

Silver

  • Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2020

Bronze

  • Ravine Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay 2021

Oaked Chardonnay (Under $20) Award

Gold

  • Konzelmann Estate Barrel-Aged Chardonnay 2020

Silver

  • North 42 Degrees Chardonnay 2020

Bronze

  • Trius ‘Distinction’ Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2020

Oaked Chardonnay (Over $20) Award

Gold

  • Domaine Queylus La Grande Réserve Chardonnay 2020

Silver

  • Bachelder Wismer-Foxcoft Chardonnay 2019
  • Magnotta Limited Edition Chardonnay 2020

Bronze

  • Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2020

Gewurztraminer Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Gewurztraminer 2020

Bronze

  • Stoney Ridge Estate Gewurztraminer 2019

Dry White Varietals Awards

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Redstone White Meritage 2020
  • Niagara College Dean’s List Viognier 2020

Bronze

  • Reif Estate Semillon 2020

Roses/Blanc De Noir Award

Gold

  • Malivoire Wine Moira Rosé 2021

Silver

  • 13th Street Winery Gamay Vin Gris 2021

Bronze

  • Henry of Pelham Speck Three of Hearts Rosé 2020
  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc Rosé 2020

Gamay Award

Gold

  • Bachelder 52% Whole Cluster Wismer-Foxcroft Gamay 2020

Silver

  • 13th Street Gamay 2020
  • Byland Estate Gamay Noir Owner Signature 2020

Bronze

  • Niagara College Balance Gamay Noir 2018

Pinot Noir Award

Gold

  • Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir Tradition 2019
  • Closson Chase Pinot Noir 2019

Silver

  • Closson Chase South Clos Pinot Noir 2019
  • Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2019

Bronze

  • Locust Lane Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2019

Cabernet Franc Award

Gold

  • Tawse Winery David’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019
  • Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Réserve 2020

Silver

  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018

Bronze 

  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019

Cabernet Franc Award

Gold

  • Tawse Winery David’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019
  • Domaine Queylus Cabernet Franc Réserve 2020

Silver

  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018

Bronze

  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019

Merlot Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Konzelmann Merlot Barrel-Aged Reserve Series 2020
  • GreenLane Estate Christine’s Block Merlot 2017

Bronze

  • Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Merlot 2019

Cabernet Sauvignon Award

Gold

  • Strewn Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Silver

  • Waupoos Estates Winery 2019

Bronze

  • Peninsula Ridge Estate BV Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2016
  • Trius Showcase East Block Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Meritage And Cabernet Blends Award

Gold

  • Southbrook Poetica Red 2019

The Foreign Affair Temptress 2018

Silver

  • Magnotta Legacy Limited edition 2018
  • The Foreign Affair Dream 2018

Syrah/Shiraz Award

Gold

  • Big Head Raw Syrah 2020
  • Kacaba Proprietor’s Block Syrah Escarpment 2019
  • Peninsula Ridge Reserve Syrah 2016

Silver

  • Rockway Syrah 2018

Hybrid Red Award

Gold

  • Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir 2020

Silver

  • Wayne Gretzky Estates No. 99 Signature Series Baco Noir 2020

Bronze

  • Riverview Cellars Baco Noir 2020

Late Harvest Whites & Reds

Gold

  • Thirty Bench Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2019

Silver

  • Trius Showcase Late Harvest Vidal 2019
  • Konzelmann Select Late Harvest Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Bronze

  • Strewn Ice-Breaker Select Late Harvest Vidal 2014

Appassimento Red Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Dim Wine Co. Field Select Red 2016
  • Rennie Estate Winery ‘G’ Assemblage 2016

Bronze

  • The Foreign Affair Apologetic 2018

Orange Wine Award

Gold

  • None awarded

Silver

  • Maenad Wine Co. Skin-Fermented Chardonnay 2020
  • Southbrook Skin-Fermented White (Vidal) 2020

Bronze

  • Big Head Amber 2021

Other Red Wines Award

Gold

  • Lakeview Cellars Grand Reserve Red 2017

Silver

  • Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2017
  • Green Lane Estate Malbec 2018

Bronze

  • Creekside Red Tractor Cabernet Shiraz 2019

Vidal Icewine Award

Gold

  • Kittling Ridge Vidal Icewine 2019
  • Riverview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2019

Silver

  • Inniskillin Oak-Aged Vidal Icewine 2019
  • Magnotta Vidal Icewine Limited 2019
  • Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery Vidal Icewine 2018

Bronze

  • Lakeview Wine Co. Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2019

Vinifera Icewine Award

Gold

  • Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019

Silver

  • Jackson-Triggs Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019
  • Wayne Gretzky Riesling Icewine 2019

Bronze

  • Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019

Label Design Award

  • Megalomaniac To Be Franc Cabernet Franc

Sláinte mhaith

Ontario Wine Get-Aways

If you ever have the desire to relax and immerse yourself in any of Ontario’s wine regions, an overnight stay at a winery may prove to be ‘the icing on the cake’.  If you would like to consider pursuing this idea, here are some Ontario wineries, organized by region, that offer accommodations at the winery.

NIAGARA REGION

13th Street Winery (Escarpment and Area)

1776 Fourth Avenue

St. Catharines, Ontario L2R 6P9

Celebrating over 20 years of winemaking in Niagara, 13th Street Winery’s mission is to create exceptional wines that reflect the unique terroir of Niagara. They provide a unique blend of wine, food and art. You can experience the tasting bar, wander the sculpture gardens or relax with a glass of wine.

For accommodations, there is a choice of two contemporary houses, both offering private, luxurious accommodations. Both are set amongst the vineyards on the winery estate. Each house sleeps up to eight guests and include a fully equipped kitchen, living room, expansive deck and 3 ½ baths. The Cottage has 3 bedrooms and the Farmhouse has 4. Both are available to book on Air Bnb.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • King’s Court Estate Winery
  • Creekside Estate Winery
  • 16 Mile Cellar
  • 13th Street Bakery & Farmhouse Bistro
  • The Deck at Creekside Estate Winery
  • Inn on the Twenty
  • Alvento Winery Vineyard Villa

Alvento Winery (Escarpment and Area)

3048 2nd Avenue

Vineland Station, Ontario L0R 2E0

Alvento Winery was established in 2001.  It offers visitors a unique boutique wine country experience. This 13-acre vineyard features an authentic 19th Century barn with a renovated tasting room, as well as unique, luxurious accommodation in the four-room, picturesque Bed & Breakfast.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Di Profio Estate Wines
  • Harbour Estates Winery
  • Honsberger
  • Zinc Bistro at Di Profio Estate Wines
  • The Harbour Patio at Harbour Estates Winery
  • Inn on the Twenty
  • Accommodations at Vineland Estates

Cave Springs Winery (Escarpment and Area)

3836 Main Street

Jordan, Ontario L0R 1S0

Cave Spring is located in the centre of Jordan Village. The wines capture the terroir of this prime sub-appellation. Visitors may enjoy an intimate, seated experience in the tasting room, featuring curated wine flights paired with local charcuterie.

The Estate House at Cave Spring Vineyard is a stunning Victorian-style farmhouse located at the heart of the vineyard. Nestled high on the Beamsville Bench of the Niagara Escarpment overlooking Lake Ontario, it offers some breathtaking vistas of Niagara wine country. It is a fully equipped, self-catered rental with many of the region’s top estate wineries within a 15-minute drive and hiking on the Bruce Trail literally on your doorstep.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Di Profio Estate Wines
  • Honsberger
  • Stoney Ridge Estate Winery
  • 2027 Cellars
  • Inn On The Twenty Restaurant
  • Jordan House Tavern
  • Inn on the Twenty
  • Alvento Winery Vineyard Villa

Commisso Estate Winery (Escarpment and Area)

564 Kemp Road East

Beamsville, Ontario L0R 1B2

Commisso Estate is a 32-acre estate winery and Bed & Breakfast located on the 75-year-old Commisso farm at the top of the Niagara Escarpment in the heart of wine country.  The winery focuses on premium, small-lot VQA wines, particularly Appassimento wines and big bold reds.  Situated amidst lush vineyards and breathtaking gardens it is also the perfect venue for corporate events and private functions.

The property includes beautiful landscapes, acres of vineyards, gazebos, a pond and other attractions to make any occasion truly memorable. The hospitality suites provide the option for overnight stays and the wine boutique will showcase wines produced from the vineyard as well as feature small-batch wines from local vineyards.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Angels Gate Winery
  • Organized Crime Winery
  • Rosewood Estates Winery & Meadery
  • London Born Wine Company
  • London Born Winery Restaurant
  • The Restaurant at Peninsula Ridge
  • Vieni Estates Wine & Spirits Bed and Breakfast

Vieni Estates (Escarpment and Area)

4553 Fly Road

Beamsville, Ontario L0R 1B2

Vieni means “come” or “welcome” in Italian and that is just how they want you to feel – welcomed and at home at Vieni Estates. The winery is situated on a diverse 175-acre estate on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment. In addition to their fine wines, Vieni Estates offers traditional Italian-style sparkling wines, Icewines, grappas and spirits distilled from the many fruits of Ontario.

You can stay at the beautifully updated Bed & Breakfast, where every room has a stunning view of the vineyards and 30 acres of protected forest along the Niagara Escarpment.  You can unwind and relax poolside, visit the winery or discover the property and enjoy a picnic by their pond, or hike the Bruce Trail.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Cave Spring Vineyard Tasting Room
  • Rennie Estate Winery
  • Kew Vineyards Estate Winery
  • The Restaurant at Redstone
  • Megalomaniac Food+Drink
  • Alvento Winery Vineyard Villa

Vineland Estates Winery (Escarpment and Area)

3620 Moyer Road

Vineland L0R 2C0

For over 30 years Vineland Estates Winery has offered an unparalleled wine and food experience within a setting of breathtaking vistas and welcoming warmth. Vineland is passionately committed to authenticity and excellence in all things and has been singled out as a top producer of award-winning Riesling and Cabernet Franc as well as locally sourced cuisine.

Vineland Estates Winery operates two accommodation options adjacent to the estate vineyards. The Bed and Breakfast Cottage and Estate Guest House both provide great experiences.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Vineland Estates Winery
  • Kacaba Vineyards and Winery
  • Tawse Winery
  • Ridgepoint Wines
  • The Restaurant at Vineland Estates Winery
  • Ridgepoint Wines Restaurant
  • Inn on the Twenty
  • Alvento Winery Vineyard Villa

PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY

Casa-Dea Estates Winery

1186 Greer Road

Wellington, Ontario K0K 3L0

This picturesque property was the first winery on Greer Road and is now one of the largest wineries in the County. The 65-acre vineyard is planted with Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc. They are focused on making VQA wines from 100% County grapes. Enjoy Italian cuisine at La Pergola in the summer. There are also banquet facilities for your dream wedding, including outdoor ceremonies.

Their guest house, the ‘Casa del Silenzio’, is located at the winery, just steps away from the vineyard, tasting bar and patio restaurant. Rent it for two nights (minimum) or a week and experience ‘The County’. Casa del Silenzio also makes the perfect addition to a wedding at Casa-Dea, providing accommodations for the bride, groom and wedding party.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard
  • Rosehall Run
  • Traynor Family Vineyard
  • Sandbanks Estate Winery
  • La Condesa
  • Drake Devonshire
  • By Chadsey’s Cairns Farmhouse
  • Huff Estates Winery

Huff Estates Winery

2274 County Road 1

Bloomfield, Ontario K0K 1G0

In addition to the winery, Huff Estates has an inn and art gallery. You may sample their wines in the tasting room; have lunch overlooking the vineyard and discover contemporary Canadian art in the Oeno Gallery and stay at the luxurious Inn at Huff Estates.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Sugarbush Vineyards
  • Karlo Estates
  • Broken Stone Winery
  • Closson Chase
  • La Condesa
  • Drake Devonshire
  • The Waring House

Three Dog Winery

1920 Fish Lake Road

Picton, Ontario K0K 1W0

At Three Dog Winery they strive to become a gathering place for the community where you not only want to enjoy a glass of wine but gather to dine with friends. On weekends enjoy live music and wood-fired pizza on the patio. Their wines are award-winning, affordable and easy drinking. Just 15 minutes off Hwy 401, they have 6km of hiking trails – plenty of room to walk your four-legged friends.  You can also book your stay at the Vineyard Loft which overlooks the vineyard.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Black Prince Winery – Canadian Vinegar Cellars
  • Amanda’s Vineyards
  • Waupoos Estates Winery
  • Huff Estates Winery
  • The Inn at Lake on the Mountain Resort
  • Hartleys Tavern
  • Three Dog Winery – Vineyard Loft
  • Merrill House

Waupoos Estate Winery

3016 County Road 8

Picton, Ontario K0K 2T0

Waupoos is the oldest winery in Prince Edward County and has a wide selection of award-winning wines. The winery features boutique shopping with chocolate and gelato, a petting zoo and fine dining experience in the full-service Restaurant overlooking beautiful Prince Edward Bay. Accommodations are available in the 1900 Century Farm House. The Farmhouse is a beautifully restored century home situated on the 100 acre grounds of Waupoos Estates, with breathtaking views of Prince Edward Bay and the vineyards.  A 2 night minimum stay is required.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Amanda’s Vineyards
  • Three Dog Winery
  • Black Prince Winery – Canadian Vinegar Cellars
  • Huff Estates Winery
  • Waupoos Estate Winery Restaurant
  • The Inn at Lake on the Mountain Resort
  • Merrill House

NORTHERN AREA

Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery (Georgian Bay)

599448 2nd Concession North RR1

Annan, Ontario N0H 1B0

Situated in Grey County, Coffin Ridge has a modern tasting room that opens to an elevated deck overlooking Georgian Bay and the vineyard. Carefully researched winter-hardy varieties flourish here, with hybrids like L’Acadie Blanc and Marquette gaining critical acclaim. Visit the winery to try their Riesling Bone Dry or Back From the Dead Red blend VQA wines.

An overnight stay at the Resting Place will give you access to a gorgeous and tranquil escape from the norm, including a games room, theatre, gym, pool, hot tub and a library as well as various sitting areas overlooking the vineyard and beautiful Georgian Bay. 

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Georgian Hills Vineyards
  • The Roost Wine Company
  • Adamo Estate Winery
  • Windrush Estate Winery
  • Bruce Wine Bar Kitchen
  • Barrhead Pub & Grill
  • Burning Kiln Wilderness Suites

Schatz Winery by Hessenland Inn

72981 Bluewater Hwy

Zurich, Ontario N0M 2T0

Schatz is Hessenland Inn’s winery, located on the Lake Huron Shores nestled between Bayfield and Grand Bend, offers a unique combination of history, innovation, and European elegance.

Also onsite is Hessenland Inn & Restaurant which serves a locally sourced menu.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Cornerfield Wine Co.
  • Dark Horse Estate Winery
  • Maelstrom Winery
  • Alton Farms Estate Winery
  • Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro
  • The Little Inn of Bayfield
  • Burning Kiln Wilderness Suites

LAKE ERIE NORTH SHORE

Burning Kiln Winery

1709 Front Road

St Williams, Ontario N0E 1P0

Rooted in the agricultural significance of tobacco and Norfolk County, Burning Kiln offers a vision of this emerging VQA region’s bright future. The picturesque winery is a repurposed tobacco pack barn overlooking Long Point Bay on Lake Erie, close to some of the best vacation areas and beaches.

You can book a stay at the Farmhouse located at the vineyard. The 1865 home has been fully restored to its original charm.  The house is situated at the highest point of the estate providing picturesque views of the surrounding winery.

WHAT’S NEAR BY

  • Front Road Cellars
  • Smoke & Gamble | Frisky Beaver
  • Hounds of Erie
  • Ridge Road Estate Winery
  • The Combine
  • Barrel Restaurant
  • Burning Kiln Wilderness Suites
  • Vieni Estates Wine & Spirits Bed and Breakfast

Sláinte mhaith

Canada’s Liquid Gold

Ontario is internationally acclaimed for its Ice Wine (also spelled Icewine).  However, it is said to have been discovered by accident in Franken, Germany in 1794 by farmers trying to save their grape harvest after a sudden frost.  Winemakers that year had to create a product from the grapes available for harvest. The resulting wines had an unusually high sugar content, along with great flavour. As a result, this new technique became popular in Germany and by the mid-1800s, the Rheingau region was making what the Germans called Eiswein.

Photo credit: TheDrinksBusiness.com

In the 1980s, Ontario’s vintners recognized that their cold winters would provide the perfect conditions for producing exceptional Ice Wine.  In 1984, Niagara’s Inniskillin winery was the first Canadian winery to produce Ice Wine for commercial purposes. This wine was made from Vidal grapes and was labelled “Eiswein”. Canadian Ice Wine soon became popular and more Canadian producers picked up the idea. The international breakthrough of Canadian Ice Wine came in 1991, when Inniskillin’s 1989 Vidal ice wine won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at VinExpo in Bordeaux, France. By the early 2000s, Canada was established as the largest producer of ice wine in the world. In 2001, the EU recognized Canada’s high standard for producing Ice Wine and began allowing its importation.

At the normal fall harvest time, producers leave select vineyards unharvested and wait for winter to set in. Being left on the vine, the grapes are vulnerable to rot, high winds, hail, hungry birds and animals.  The grapes are harvested in the middle of the night at temperatures below -8°C.  The grapes are picked by hand and must be pressed immediately while they are still frozen.

Only about 10 to 20% of the liquid in these frozen grapes is used for Ice Wine. The juice is so sweet that it can take from 3 to 6 months to make ice wine.  When it’s all done, wines have around 10% alcohol by volume (ABV) and a range of sweetness from around 160 to 220 grams/litre of residual sugar, which is two times the sweetness of Coca-Cola.

Grapes that grow well in cold climates make the best ice wines.  These include Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Gewürztraminer, Riesling, Grüner Veltliner, Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay and Vidal Blanc.

To produce Ice Wine, summers must be hot and winters must be cold. Of all the wine-producing regions in the world, only Ontario has a winter climate consistently cold enough to produce Ice Wine every year. Even Germany cannot produce an Ice Wine every vintage.

Regulations in Canada, Germany, Austria, and the U.S. prohibit dessert wines from being labeled as ice wine if grapes are commercially frozen. Instead, these products are usually labeled as “iced wine” or simply “dessert wine.” So, if you’re looking for true ice wine, be a wary shopper and read the labels or look up the production information.

Ice Wine is not just a dessert wine, but if you do serve it along side dessert, make sure the dessert is less sweet than the Ice Wine.  Pairing suggestions include fruit cobbler or pie or cheesecake.  White Ice Wine goes well with apple pie, cheesecake, vanilla pound cake, ice cream, fresh fruit panna cotta, fruit compote, crème brûlée and white chocolate mousse.

If you are serving dark chocolate, it pairs well with Cabernet Franc or other red Ice Wine.  White chocolate goes well with a Riesling or Vidal Ice Wine.

White Ice Wine pairs well with savoury dishes, such as chicken liver pâté, oysters or foie gras.  These salty foods enhance the wine’s sweetness.  The acidity of the Ice Wine cleanses the palate between bites.

Spicy foods, such as spicy chicken or Thai curry will pair well because the sweetness of the wine will control the heat of the food while maintaining the flavours of the spices.

White Ice Wine pairs well with snack foods such as soft cheeses or blue cheeses.  Red Ice Wine goes well with nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and pecans.

Ice Wine should always be chilled, whether that be for 15 minutes in an ice bucket or 2 hours in the fridge before enjoying.  It can be served in an Ice Wine glass, which is a narrow, tulip-shaped long-stemmed glass or it can be simply served in a white wine glass.  A standard serving is about 1.5 ounces or 45 ml per person.

Once opened, unlike other wines, Ice Wine will keep in the fridge for several weeks.

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