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


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


  • Huff Estate Cuvee Janine 2018


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

Riesling Dry Award


  • Wending Home Estate Vineyards Riesling 2020


  • Niagara Teaching Winery Balance Dry Riesling 2020


  • Strewn Winery Terroir Riesling 2019

Semi-Dry Riesling Award


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


  • Redstone Limestone Riesling 2020

Pinot Gris Award


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


  • Lakeview East Dell Pinot Grigio 2020


  • Konzelmann Estate Pinot Grigio 2019

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award


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


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


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

Unoaked Chardonnay Award


  • Peninsula Ridge Inox Chardonnay 2020


  • Kacaba Unoaked Chardonnay 2020


  • Ravine Vineyard Unoaked Chardonnay 2021

Oaked Chardonnay (Under $20) Award


  • Konzelmann Estate Barrel-Aged Chardonnay 2020


  • North 42 Degrees Chardonnay 2020


  • Trius ‘Distinction’ Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay 2020

Oaked Chardonnay (Over $20) Award


  • Domaine Queylus La Grande Réserve Chardonnay 2020


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


  • Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2020

Gewurztraminer Award


  • None awarded


  • Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Gewurztraminer 2020


  • Stoney Ridge Estate Gewurztraminer 2019

Dry White Varietals Awards


  • None awarded


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


  • Reif Estate Semillon 2020

Roses/Blanc De Noir Award


  • Malivoire Wine Moira Rosé 2021


  • 13th Street Winery Gamay Vin Gris 2021


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

Gamay Award


  • Bachelder 52% Whole Cluster Wismer-Foxcroft Gamay 2020


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


  • Niagara College Balance Gamay Noir 2018

Pinot Noir Award


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


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


  • Locust Lane Estate Winery Pinot Noir 2019

Cabernet Franc Award


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


  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018


  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019

Cabernet Franc Award


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


  • Inniskillin Wines Reserve Cabernet Franc 2018


  • Ravine Vineyard Estate Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc 2019

Merlot Award


  • None awarded


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


  • Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Merlot 2019

Cabernet Sauvignon Award


  • Strewn Winery Cabernet Sauvignon 2017


  • Waupoos Estates Winery 2019


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

Meritage And Cabernet Blends Award


  • Southbrook Poetica Red 2019

The Foreign Affair Temptress 2018


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

Syrah/Shiraz Award


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


  • Rockway Syrah 2018

Hybrid Red Award


  • Henry of Pelham Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir 2020


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


  • Riverview Cellars Baco Noir 2020

Late Harvest Whites & Reds


  • Thirty Bench Special Select Late Harvest Vidal 2019


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


  • Strewn Ice-Breaker Select Late Harvest Vidal 2014

Appassimento Red Award


  • None awarded


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


  • The Foreign Affair Apologetic 2018

Orange Wine Award


  • None awarded


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


  • Big Head Amber 2021

Other Red Wines Award


  • Lakeview Cellars Grand Reserve Red 2017


  • Lakeview Cellars Malbec 2017
  • Green Lane Estate Malbec 2018


  • Creekside Red Tractor Cabernet Shiraz 2019

Vidal Icewine Award


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


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


  • Lakeview Wine Co. Lakeview Cellars Vidal Icewine 2019

Vinifera Icewine Award


  • Redstone Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine 2019


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


  • 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.


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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


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. 


  • 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.


  • 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


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.


  • 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.

Sláinte mhaith

Triumph to Tragedy

My wife and I recently hosted a family dinner and for the occasion I asked my wife to purchase a Riesling to go along with it.  One of the challenges of living in a rural community is that the local liquor store doesn’t have a lot of choices when in search of a particular varietal. She returned home with Tawse 2017 Sketches of Niagara Riesling. 

When we opened and served the wine with the dinner my wife and I identified the bouquet right away, diesel fuel.  My wife was immediately turned off by it while I became positively excited.  This was the first Ontario Riesling that I have had that authentically portrays its Old-World style German cousin.

The wine was vibrant with subtle floral, nutty, fig, smoke and pear notes, a soft sweetness and long finish.   It is a great value at only $18.95.  Even though my wife was not a fan of the nose of a traditional German style Riesling, she did enjoy the overall flavour of the wine.

When I clicked on Tawse website to see if I could learn more about their German style Riesling, I saw that their wine maker, Paul Pender, had been tragically killed several days prior.  I never had the opportunity of meeting him but after tasting the Riesling, as well as other wonderful creations from Tawse, I certainly wish I had.  His untimely passing is a tragic loss to the entire wine community.

If you are a fan of Riesling, I suggest picking up a bottle or two of the Sketches of Niagara as a tribute to its creator.

Sláinte mhaith

Appassimento Style of Wines

Appassimento is an Italian term that describes the drying of harvested grapes.  Traditionally this was done on bamboo racks or straw mats.  The process took anywhere from a few weeks up to several months to concentrate the sugars and flavours of the grapes. This process is used in making Amarone, Recioto and Sforzato.

Photo credit: WineAnorak.com

The process goes all the way back to the Egyptians or Greeks. The fruit was dehydrated by either leaving them on the vine to dry naturally in the hot sun or by picking and laying the bunches out on straw mats or hanging from rafters.

These types of wines became popular because they provided higher levels of alcohol and sweetness, thus making them not only more stable and complex but appealing to the consumer.

Today, dried grape wines are made in many regions of the world. The most well-known are the Amarone and Recioto wines of Valpolicella in Veneto, Italy.  However, dried-grape wines are also made throughout the rest of Italy and Mediterranean Europe, parts of the southern hemisphere, and even in cool climate regions such as Romania, Moldova, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Germany.

Canada is even now experimenting with these wines. Niagara’s Magnotta’s Enotrium is considered the first of its kind in Canada.

Today the appassimento process consists of harvesting ripe grapes and drying them for a period of several days or months in special rooms where airflow, humidity and temperature are controlled to varying degrees. The process does not ripen grapes like green bananas turning yellow and then brown in a bowl on your kitchen counter. Instead, the process concentrates what already exists in the grapes after they are removed from the vine. The grapes must be very healthy and fully ripe with adequate levels of acidity when harvested.

There are many different approaches to drying in Ontario. Some vintners use ventilated barns or open-air greenhouses while others use kilns.

The drying process will take anywhere from two weeks to over 140 days. Aside from concentrating sugars, acidity and tannins, the drying process will result in important microbiological changes in the grapes that can impart additional unique aromas and flavours adding greater complexity and intrigue to the final product. After the desired period of drying has elapsed, the winemaker will perform a final sorting to eliminate any unwanted fruit from entering the fermentation stage.

Anywhere from 30% to 50% of the original harvested juice yield will be lost using this process. Many of Ontario’s top appassimento-style wines are only made in select, high quality vintages. It is important to inquire as to what percentage of the wine has been dried and to take note of the alcohol percentage and residual sugar present. Knowing this will help you predict the final style of the wine and can help you match your taste preferences to the right product.

A second, less costly by-product of the appassimento process is ripasso wines. Unlike the appassimento wines where dried grapes make up part, or all of the final blend, ripasso wines use fresh, undried grapes to make the base wine which is then re-passed over the used skins leftover from the rarer and expensive appassimento process. This second contact with the skins may start a short re-fermentation adding a slight increase in alcohol to the base wine while adding extra complexity and flavour.

Ontario wineries producing wines using this process include Angel’s Gate, Big Head Winery, Burning Kiln Winery, Kew Vineyards, The Foreign Affair Winery and Rennie Vineyards.

The VQA of Ontario (VQAO) is currently reviewing the use of terms like appassimento and partial appassimento on labels of VQA wines. The VQAO is attempting to update the rules to ensure producers meet all the necessary legal limits for sugar, alcohol content and percentage of dried grapes so consumers will have clarity when buying wines.

As the Canadian wine industry continues to evolve, I believe the inclusion of the Appassimento style will enhance the industry moving forward. Expansion of Canadian viticulture and winemaking provides consumers with an even greater selection of fine wines offering excellent value.

Sláinte mhaith

2021 & the B.C. Wine Industry

2021 presented lots of challenges for British Columbia’s vintners.  The spring was one of the driest on record with very little rain from late May to the end of June. Temperatures in June climbed up to 47 degrees Celsius.  The combination of these things resulted in the grapes maturing faster and earlier than normal.  The grape yields were low but the quality was good, producing small, very ripe fruit bursting with flavour.  It is hoped that this high concentration of flavour will translate into an excellent, though a low yield vintage.

Photo credit: TourismKelowna.com

The wild fires also wreaked havoc on the harvest in some areas, particularly the Thompson and Okanagan Valleys.  Fortunately, the worst of the smoke exposure occurred before the grapes began to ripen so the impact is believed to be minimal.

The recent flooding in B.C. has affected all residents either directly or indirectly.  With major transportation routes being blocked or damaged, supply chains and mobility have been severely restricted.  At this point it is still too early to know what additional burden will be felt by B.C.’s wine industry as a whole because of the flooding.

This year was without a doubt a season with its challenges because of the smoke, heat and floods.  However, early indications suggest that the 2021 vintage of British Columbia wines will be very flavourful.  Unfortunately for consumers the prices will most likely be higher due to the smaller than normal yields produced.  These are some things to keep in mind when the 2021 B. C. vintages begin hitting the store shelves in a year or two.

Sláinte mhaith

Ontario’s Top 10 Wineries at the 2021 Wine Align National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC)

Ontario had 79 wineries enter this year’s National Wine Awards competition, second only to B.C.  With such a strong field of competitors, earning a position in the top 10 is truly an accomplishment.

The wines were presented to the judges without displaying the producer, origin or price.  The wines were identified and organized by grape variety or style. The top medalists were tasted in multiple rounds by many different judges.

All ten wineries were from the Niagara region.  There were no winners from Prince Edward County, the North Shore of Lake Erie, Norfolk County, Georgian Bay, Huron Shores or the Toronto Wine Region.

The wineries identified in green periodically have their wines available for sale in local liquor stores. The award winning wines identified in blue are available in Ontario through the LCBO.

1. Malivoire Wine Company, Beamsville, ON (1st overall)

Malivoire Wine Company is the National Wine Awards Winery of the Year as a result of their earning 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze medals.  This was the first year that a winery has received 3 Platinum medals.  Malivoire’s wines may be purchased from their website at www.malivoire.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2020 Le Coeur Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

N/V Bisous Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

2020 Analog Demo Series – Category: Red Blend – $27.95

Gold Medal Winner

2020 Small Lot Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $19.95

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Mottiar Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $39.95

2019 Small Lot Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $29.95

2020 Genova Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

2020 Small Lot Gamay – Category: Gamay – $21.95

2019 Mottiar Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $34.95

2020 Moira Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $49.95

N/V Bisous Brut – Category: Sparkling Wine – $34.95

2020 Moira Rosé – Category: Rosé – $24.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Stouck Farmstead Red – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

2020 Wismer-Foxcroft Gamay – Category: Gamay – $27.95

N/V Che Bello, Ontario – Category: Sparkling Wine – 17.95

2020 Ladybug Rosé – Category: Rosé – $16.95

2020 Vivant Rosé – Category: Rosé – $19.95

2. Trius Winery, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (4th overall)

Trius Winery was awarded 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 7 Silver and 5 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines may be purchased from their website at www.triuswines.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2019 Showcase Late Harvest Vidal – Category: Late Harvest – $29.95

Brut Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

Gold Medal Winner

2019 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek – Category: Riesling – $29.75

Silver Medal Winners

2020 Distinction Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.75

2019 Red The Icon – Category: Red Blend – $24.95

2019 Reserve Syrah – Category: Syrah – $25.75

2019 Showcase Cabernet Franc Red Shale – Cabernet Franc – $54.80

2020 Distinction Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.75

N/V Brut – Category: Sparkling White – $29.95

N/V Showcase Brut Nature – Category: Sparkling White – $55.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2019 Showcase Pinot Noir Clark Farm – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.75

2020 Distinction Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $19.75

2019 Distinction Divine White – Category: White Blend – $22.75

2019 Reserve Viognier – Category: Viognier – $23.75

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $18.05

3. Peller Estates, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON (5th overall)

Peller Estates received 2 Platinum, 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze medals at this year’s awards.  Their wines are available at retailers across Canada, as well as from their website at www.peller.com.

Platinum Medal Winners

2019 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $23.75

2019 Signature Series Riesling – Category: Riesling – $29.95

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $108.90

2019 Signature Series Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $24.75

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.85

2019 Private Reserve Gamay Noir – Category: Gamay – $21.75

2019 Signature Series Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $54.80

2018 Signature Series Vidal Blanc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $74.85

2019 Andrew Peller Riesling Icewine – Category: Icewine – $24.99

Bronze Medal Winners

2020 Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $20.75

N/V Ice Cuvée Rose Signature Series – Category: Sparkling Pink – $36.75

2020 Private Reserve Rosé – Category: Rosé – $22.75

4. Thirty Bench Wine Makers, Beamsville, ON (9th overall)

Thirty Bench earned 5 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available online at www.thirtybench.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Small Lot Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2017 Small Lot Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $75.20

Silver Medal Winners

2017 Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $50.00

2018 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $36.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2019 Winemaker’s Blend Riesling – Category: Riesling – $22.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2019 Winemaker’s Blend Red – Category: Red Blend – $24.95

2019 Small Lot Riesling Triangle Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $29.75

2018 Effervescent Riesling – Category: Sparkling White – $38.95

5. 13th Street Winery, St. Catharines, ON (15th overall)

13th Street was awarded 1 Platinum, 1 Gold, 5 Silver and 14 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available at retailers in Ontario, as well as from their website at www.13thstreetwinery.com.

Platinum Medal Winner

2015 Premier Cuvee – Category: Sparkling White – $39.95

Gold Medal Winner

2020 Cabernet Franc June’s Vineyard – Category: Cabernet Franc – $24.95

Silver Medal Winners

2013 Grande Cuvee Blanc de Noir – Category: Sparkling White – $59.95

2019 Gamay – Category: Gamay – $19.95

2019 Blanc de Blanc – Category: Sparkling White – $29.95

2020 Riesling June’s Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $19.95

2020 Gamay Whitty Vineyard – Category: Gamay – $24.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Essence Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $49.95

2019 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $19.95

2019 Expression Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $17.95

2019 Gamay Sandstone – Category: Gamay – $34.95

2020 Gamay – Category: Gamay – $17.95

N/V Burger Blend Gamay Pinot Noir- Category: Red Blend – $14.95

2019 Chardonnay L. Viscek Vineyard – Category: Chardonnay – $34.95

2019 Reserve Pinot Gris Home Farm – Category: Pinot Gris – $29.95

2020 Chardonnay, Creek Shores – Category: Chardonnay – $24.95

2020 Maximum Intervention Riesling – Category: Orange Wine – $24.95

2020 Pinot Gris Market Vineyard – Category: Pinot Gris – $19.95

N/V Burger Blend Riesling Pinot Grigio – Category: White Blend – $14.95

2019 Gamay Blanc de Noir – Category: Sparkling White – $34.95

N/V Cuvée Rose – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

6. Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, St. Davids, ON (21st overall)

Ravine Vineyard earned 3 Gold, 4 Silver and 6 Bronze medals at this year’s event.  Their wines are available online at www.ravinevineyard.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2020 Botrytis Affected Riesling – Category: Late Harvest – $38.00

2019 Lonna’s Block Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $55.00

2018 Reserve Red Category: Red Blend – $65.00

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon – Category: Cabernet Sauvignon – $65.00

2019 Nancy’s Block Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $55.00

2020 Patricia’s Block Riesling – Category: Riesling – $35.00

2019 Cabernet Franc Icewine – Category: Icewine – $45.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2018 Reserve Merlot – Category: Merlot – $65.00

2019 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $32.00

2019 Small Batch Riesling – Category: Riesling – $28.00

2019 Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $35.00

2020 Gewürztraminer – Category: Gewürztraminer – $25.00

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $25.00

7. Fielding Estate Winery, Beamsville, ON (22nd overall)

Fielding achieved 3 Gold, 5 Silver and 12 Bronze medals this year.  Their wines are available at retailers across Ontario, as well as from their website at www.fieldingwines.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2018 Estate Bottled Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $39.95

2019 Cabernet-Syrah – Category: Red Blend – $29.95

N/V Sparkling Brut – Category: Sparkling White – $37.15

Silver Medal Winners

2019 Estate Bottled Riesling – Category: Riesling – $16.25

Fielding 2020 Chardonnay Unoaked – Category: Chardonnay – $15.95

2020 Estate Bottled Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $18.15

2020 Estate Bottled Gamay – Category: Gamay – $25.95

2020 Rosé – Category: Rosé – $15.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 Syrah Lowrey Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $34.95

2019 Cabernet Franc – Category: Cabernet Franc – $24.95

2019 Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir – $39.95

2019 Red Conception – Category: Red Blend – $14.75

2020 Gamay Category: Gamay – $19.95

2018 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $16.95

2018 Rock Pile Chardonnay – Category: Chardonnay – $36.95

2019 White Conception – Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon – Category: White Blend – $25.95

2020 Estate Bottled Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $21.95

2020 Pinot Grigio – Category: Pinot Grigio – $16.95

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $19.95

N/V Sparkling Rosé – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

8. Creekside Estate Winery, Jordan Station, ON

Creekside was awarded 2 Gold, 5 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website www.creeksidewine.com.

Gold Medal Winners

2017 Iconoclast Syrah – Category: Syrah -$25.00

2020 Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $15.95

Silver Medal Winners

2017 Broken Press Syrah Reserve Queenston Road Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $55.00

2018 Iconoclast Semillon Sauvignon – Category: White Blend – $23.00

2018 Laura’s Red – Category: Red Blend – $25.00

2019 Syrah – Category: Syrah – $15.95

2020 Backyard Block Sauvignon Blanc – Category: Sauvignon Blanc – $22.00

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 Laura’s Red – Category: Red Blend – $25.00

2019 Cabernet Merlot – Category: Red Blend – $15.95

2020 Red Tractor Pinot Gris – Category: Pinot Gris – $19.95

9. Tawse Winery, Vineland, ON

Tawse received 2 Gold, 12 Silver and 7 Bronze medals at this year’s awards.  Their wines are available from their website www.tawsewinery.ca and from retailers across Ontario.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Riesling Limestone Ridge-North – Category: Riesling – $21.95

2018 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

Silver Medal Winners

2016 Merlot Laundry Vineyard – Category: Merlot – $49.95

2019 Growers Blend Pinot Noir – Category: Pinot Noir -$25.95

2019 Pinot Noir Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Pinot Noir -$35.95

2018 Riesling Carly’s Block Category: Riesling – $31.95

2018 Riesling Limestone Ridge-North – Category: Riesling – $21.95

2019 Pinot Gris Lawrie Vineyard – Category: Pinot Gris – $27.15

2019 Riesling Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $24.95

2020 Skin Fermented Pinot Gris – Category: Orange Wine – $26.95

2019 Spark Rose Quarry Road Vineyard – Category: Sparkling Pink – $29.95

2014 Spark Chardonnay David’s Block – Category: Sparkling White – $39.95

2019 Spark Limestone Ridge Riesling – Category: Sparkling White – $20.95

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine – Category: Icewine – $35.95

Bronze Medal Winners

2016 Meritage – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

2018 Cabernet Franc David’s Block – Category: Cabernet Franc – $49.95

2019 Gamay Noir Cherry Avenue – Category: Gamay – $28.95

2019 Pinot Noir Tintern Road – Category: Pinot Noir – $44.95

2018 Riesling – Category: Riesling – $15.88

2019 Riesling Carly’s Block – Category: Riesling – $32.15

2020 Sketches Rosé – Category: Rosé – $17.95

10. Redstone Winery, Beamsville, ON

Redstone received 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 2 Bronze medals.  Their wines are available from their website at www.redstonewines.ca.

Gold Medal Winners

2019 Brickyard Riesling – Category: Riesling – $13.95

2017 Meritage Redstone Vineyard – Category: Red Blend – $67.95

Silver Medal Winners

2018 Syrah Redstone Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $40.15

2019 The Club Riesling Limestone Vineyard – Category: Riesling – $23.95

2019 Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine – Category: Icewine – $36.05

Bronze Medal Winners

2017 The Club Syrah Redfoot Vineyard – Category: Syrah – $39.95

2018 Merlot Redstone Vineyard – Category: Merlot – $39.95

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National Wine Awards

This year was the twentieth anniversary of the WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada (NWAC).  The country’s largest competition of Canadian wines is usually held in June each year but this year the event was moved to October due to COVID-19 and took place in Penticton, British Columbia.  The final results were not released until November 12th.

The judges’ panel consisted of 14 men and 12 women who tasted 2,075 wines from more than 260 wineries.

This year’s Winery of the Year is Niagara’s Malivoire Wine Company.  Malivoire earned 17 medals at this year’s Nationals, including 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze.

It is the first time in NWAC history that a single winery has won three Platinum Medals at the Nationals.  Equally incredible is that the medals were won in three different wine categories.

The NWAC top 10 wineries for 2021 are listed below, including their Platinum and Gold winning wines.  The lion’s share of this year’s awards went to British Columbia.

In order to be considered for inclusion on the list, the winery must enter a minimum of five wines. The five top-scoring entries (not including Icewine) from each winery are used to determine the order.

  • Malivoire Wine Company, whose awards included 3 Platinum, 1 Gold, 8 Silver and 5 Bronze.  The winning Platinum and Gold wines included:2020 Le Coeur Gamay (Platinum Award)
    • No Vintage (N/V) Bisous Rose (Platinum Award)
    • 2020 Analog Demo Series (Platinum Award)
    • 2020 Small Lot Chardonnay (Gold Award)
  • B.C.’s La Frenz Estate Winery was awarded Best Performing Small Winery of the Year. They earned 2 Platinum, 6 Gold and 5 Silver awards. The Platinum and Gold  award winning wines included:
    • N/V Liqueur Muscat (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Ensemble (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Cabernets Rockyfeller Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Riesling Cl. 21B Freedom 75 Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Sauvignon Blanc Wits End Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Semillon Knorr Vineyard, Okanagan Valley (Gold Award)
    • N/V Tawny Port, Okanagan Valley (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Blasted Church Vineyards was awarded 2 Platinum, 6 Gold, 5 Silver and 11 Bronze medals.  The Platinum and Gold award winning wines included:
    • 2019 Big Bang Theory (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Cabernet Franc (Platinum Award)
    • 2017 Holy Moly Petit Verdot (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Nectar of the Gods (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Cabernet Merlot (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Blessings Malbec (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Blessings Cabernet Sauvignon (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Blaufrankisch Rosé (Gold Award)

  • Ontario’s Trius Winery received 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 7 Silver and 5 Bronze awards.  The Platinum and Gold award winning wines included:
    • 2019 Showcase Late Harvest Vidal (Platinum Award)
    • Brut Rose (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Showcase Riesling Ghost Creek (Gold Award)

  • Peller Estates Niagara-on-the-Lake were awarded 2 Platinum, 1 Gold, 2 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  The Platinum and Gold winners are:
    • 2019 Private Reserve Cabernet Franc (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Signature Series Riesling (Platinum Award)
    • 2018 Andrew Peller Cabernet Franc Icewine (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Road 13 earned 1 Platinum, 3 Gold and 3 Silver medals.  The Platinum and Gold award winners are:
    • 2019 GSM (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Syrah Malbec (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Cabernet Merlot (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Jackpot Malbec (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Quails’ Gate Estate Winery received 1 Platinum, 3 Gold, 8 Silver and 4 Bronze medals.  Their Platinum and Gold wines are:
    • 2019 Rosemary’s Block Chardonnay (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Richard’s Block Pinot Noir (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Stewart Family Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2018 The Boswell Syrah (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Mission Hill Family Estate earned 6 Gold and 8 Silver medals.  The Gold winners are:
    • 2017 Legacy Collection Quatrain (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Legacy Collection Perpetua (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Legacy Collection Compendium (Gold Award)
    • 2020 Reserve Pinot Gris (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Reserve Chardonnay (Gold Award)

  • Ontario’s Thirty Bench Wine Makers who were awarded 5 Gold, 6 Silver and 3 Bronze medals.  The Gold medal winners are:
    • 2019 Small Lot Gewurztraminer (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Lot Riesling Wild Cask (Gold Award)
    • 2018 Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard (Gold Award)
    • 2017 Small Lot Cabernet Franc (Gold Award)

  • B.C.’s Nk’Mip Cellars won 1 Platinum, 2 Gold, 3 Silver and 1 Bronze medal.  The Platinum and Gold winners are:
    • 2018 Qwam Qwmt Cabernet Sauvignon (Platinum Award)
    • 2019 Qwam Qwmt Chardonnay (Gold Award)
    • 2019 Mer’r’iym Red Meritage (Gold Award)

During the upcoming weeks I will review the top 10 B.C. winners and top 10 Ontario winners in more detail.

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British Columbia Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards

Over 800 of B.C.’s finest wines from more than 120 B.C. wineries were judged by a panel of 15 judges at the 2021 B.C. Lieutenant Governor Wine Awards.  The results were released earlier this month.

The top honour went to the Tantalus Vineyards’ 2018 Old Vines Riesling. The wine was produced from Riesling grape vines first planted in 1978. The vineyards and winery are situated on the eastern shores of Lake Okanagan overlooking the lake and the City of Kelowna.

Below I have listed the Platinum and gold winners from this year’s completion.  The complete list of winners can be found at http://www.thewinefestivals.com/awards/results/8/1/

Platinum Award Winners

  • Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Winery, 2018 Estate Riesling Icewine
  • Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, 2019 Syrah
  • Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery, 2018 Reserve Syrah
  • Mt. Boucherie Estate Winery, 2020 Original Vines Sémillon
  • Silkscarf winery, 2017 Syrah-Viognier
  • Three Sisters Winery, 2019 Rebecca
  • Tantalus Vineyards, 2018 Chardonnay
  • Enrico Winery, 2020 Shining Armour Pinot Gris
  • Maan Farms Estate Winery, 2020 Raspberry Table Wine
  • Arrowleaf, 2019 Riesling
  • Silhouette Estate Winery, Boyd Classic Cuvée
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Saddle Block
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Golden Retreat
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Cuvée
  • Chain Reaction Winery, 2019 Tailwind Pinot Gris
  • Liquidity Wines, 2020 Rosé
  • Kismet Estate Winery, 2018 Cabernet Franc Reserve
  • Mission Hill Family Estate,  2019 Perpetua
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2019 Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2020 Platinum Home Block Rosé

Gold Award Winners

  • Moon Curser Vineyards, 2020 Arneis
  • Moon Curser Vineyards, 2017 Tannat
  • Moon Curser Vineyards, 2019 Touriga Nacional
  • Lakeside Cellars, 2017 Provenir
  • Lakeside Cellars, 2020 Portage White
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2020 Pinot Noir Rosé
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2019 Unparalleled Pinot Noir
  • 50th Parallel Estate Winery, 2018 Blanc De Noir
  • La Frenz Estate Winery, 2019 Reserve Pinot Noir
  • Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Winery, 2018 Reserve Riesling Icewine
  • Jackson-Triggs Okanagan Estate Winery, 2018 Grand Reserve Merlot
  • Wild Goose Vineyards, 2019 Pinot Noir Sumac Slope
  • Wild Goose Vineyards, 2020 Pinot Gris
  • Inniskillin Okanagan Estate Winery, 2019 Discovery Series Chenin Blanc
  • Black Sage Vineyards, 2018 Cabernet Franc
  • St Hubertus & Oak Bay Estate Winery, 2019 St Hubertus Vineyard Riesling
  • Stag’s Hollow Winery, 2018 Renaissance Merlot
  • Stag’s Hollow Winery, 2018 Syrah
  • Tightrope Winery, 2019 Riesling
  • Tightrope Winery, 2020 Pinot Gris
  • Tightrope Winery, 2019 Chardonnay
  • Wayne Gretzky Estates Okanagan, 2020 Rosé
  • Four Shadows Winery, 2019 Merlot Reserve
  • Four Shadows Winery, 2020 Riesling Dry
  • Four Shadows Winery, 2020 Riesling Classic
  • Nk’Mip Cellars, 2019 Qwam Qwmt Syrah
  • Nk’Mip Cellars, 2020 Winemaker’s Pinot Blanc
  • Bordertown Vineyard & Estate Winery, 2017 Living Desert Red
  • Rust Wine Co., 2018 GMB Syrah
  • Blasted Church Vineyards, 2019 Cabernet Franc
  • Blasted Church Vineyards, 2016 OMG
  • Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, 2015 Seven Stars Sirius
  • Township 7 Vineyards & Winery, 2018 NBO
  • Three Sisters Winery, 2019 Tempranillo
  • Bonamici Cellars, 2019 Reserve Merlot
  • Moraine Estate Winery, 2019 Syrah
  • Black Hills, 2020 Alibi
  • Gray Monk, 2018 Odyssey Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Upper Bench Estate Winery, 2019 Chardonnay
  • Upper Bench Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Chardonnay
  • Baillie-Grohman Estate Winery, 2019 Pinot Noir Terraces
  • Fort Berens Estate Winery, 2019 Cabernet Franc
  • Deep Roots, 2019 Parentage Red
  • Blue Grouse Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Pinot Noir
  • Blue Grouse Estate Winery, 2020 Estate Pinot Gris
  • Enrico Winery, 2020 Rosé Red Dragon
  • Hester Creek Estate Winery, 2020 Sémillon
  • Monte Creek Winery, 2020 Living Land Sparkling Rosé
  • Clos du Soleil Winery, 2020 Winemaker’s Series Pinot Blanc
  • Arrowleaf, 2020 Summerstorm
  • Silhouette Estate Winery, 2018 Boyd Blanc De Blanc
  • SpearHead Winery, 2019 Riesling
  • Chaberton Estate Winery, 2018 Reserve Cabernet Franc
  • Frind Estate Winery, 2019 Riesling
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards, 2019 Pinot Blanc
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards, 2019 Cellar Series Alize (Roussanne)
  • Lake Breeze Vineyards, 2017 Cellar Series Mistral (Syrah)
  • Liquidity Wines, Brut Reserve
  • Liquidity Wines, 2019 Reserve Pinot Noir
  • Peak Cellars, 2020 Skin Kissed Pinot Gris
  • Time Family of Wines, 2018 TIME Syrah
  • Kismet Estate Winery, 2017 Malbec Reserve
  • Meadow Vista Honey Wines, 2021 Bliss Sparkling Blueberry Haskap Mead
  • Ex Nihilo Vineyards, 2019 Merlot
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2020 Terroir Collection Border Vista Rosé
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2019 Terroir Collection Jagged Rock Vineyard Syrah
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2020 Reserve Rosé
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2018 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Mission Hill Family Estate, 2020 Reserve Riesling
  • Plot Wines, 2018 Neighbour
  • Plot Wines, 2019 Merlot
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Syrah
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Estate Chardonnay
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2020 Estate Riesling
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Platinum Block 3 Riesling
  • CedarCreek Estate Winery, 2019 Platinum Cabernet Franc
  • Church & State Wines, 2019 Marsanne
  • Church & State Wines, 2019 Trebella

Unfortunately from what I can tell, none of this year’s winners are presently available outside of British Columbia.  I have indicated in green those wineries that do have products that are occasionally found east of the Rockies. Even though the winners may never travel beyond B.C., other wines from these vineyards would be well worth trying.

Sláinte mhaith

LEED Certification in the Wine Industry

Many Canadian vintners and wineries are working to reduce both our carbon footprint and reduce negative environmental impact.  They are finding ways to reduce energy consumption, lessen dependency on pesticides, herbicides and chemical fertilizers, as well as lessen the need for water.

Stratus Vineyards and Tantalus Vineyards

In the past I have discussed the impacts of climate change on the wine industry but today I will talk about the actual buildings and their design.  Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design or LEED, is the most widely-used green building rating system in the world, available for virtually all building, community, and home-project types.  In Canada LEED is a proven path to addressing climate change, and to creating buildings that are more resource-efficient, healthy and resilient.

LEED certification provides independent, third-party verification that a building was designed and built using strategies aimed at achieving high performance in key areas of human and environmental health. This includes location and transportation, sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials selection and indoor environmental quality.

There are two wineries in particular that have been leaders in adapting change.

Stratus Vineyards, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario

Stratus was the first winery in Canada to earn LEED certification.  In order to qualify for LEED certification, the winery had to meet numerous criteria that reduced the negative impact on the environment both during construction and on a permanent, operational basis.

The facility was designed in a way to minimize the amount of equipment needed and where possible it is designed in a way where it can be reconfigured in response to the need. Even the table where the grapes are sorted can be set up in at least 17 different ways.

The winery was built using recycled materials where possible. The building also includes a super-insulated roof and geothermal heating and cooling.  There is a resource and energy efficient electrical and plumbing system as well as a toxin-free waste management program.

They also chose native plants and flowers for the landscaping because they can thrive without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Even the pavement for the parking lot was made of stone that reduces light-reflected heat.

Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna

Tantalus takes great care in everything they do, from farming to winemaking. Riesling is the real focus but their Pinot Noir shines as well. 

Being a successful winery and needing to increase production, Tantalus found themselves in a situation where they needed to replace their original building. The new facility earned them the distinction of being British Columbia’s first LEED-certified winery. 

The building is environmentally friendly and energy efficient. There are natural sky lights, an unpaved driveway and parking area to avoid heat reflection and a highly efficient dual-exchange heating and cooling system.  The wine shop features custom handcrafted wooden cabinetry sourced from native Alder and the landscaping surrounding the winery has been planted with bee-friendly flowers and shrubs.

The wastewater treatment system processes the winery’s effluent and domestic sewage. It is the first of its kind for a British Columbia winery and allowed them to be completely non-reliant on municipal or private waste disposal providers.

Final Thoughts

LEED certifications is just one way of helping preserve and protect our environment. Both of these wineries, along with many others, are also following sustainability practices and some are even aiming to convert to dry-farming.  One thing for certain is that the wine industry is helping to lead the way to improve our environmental health.

Sláinte mhaith