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

Sláinte mhaith

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.

Sláinte mhaith

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

Sustainability of the Wine Industry

Sustainability is defined from an environmental perspective as “the avoidance of the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance”.  The objectives include a desire to improve environmental performance, improve the quality of wine growing and winemaking in an environmentally responsive manner, provide information to consumers and add value to the wine industry and the community. 

Because of climate change, people are more willing than ever to go “green” with their eating habits, from going more plant-based to cutting back on food waste. Many people have become interested in making their beverages more eco-friendly, including drinking sustainable wine.

Wine Growers Canada (WGC) supports a selection of appropriate environmental sustainability programs for both winery and vineyard operations, underlining a widespread awareness of environmental sustainability and a commitment to implementation. WGC’s Environmental Sustainability Principles were developed in cooperation with FIVS, a worldwide organization designed to serve the alcohol beverage industry. FIVS also collaborates with the International Organization of Wine and Vine (OIV) on sustainability, and both have been adopted by the World Wine Trade Group. These principles ensure flexibility in achieving environmental sustainability objectives, while preserving the programs of individual wineries and providing an ability to achieve success within a company’s particular operating environment.

Vineyards

The vineyards are where sustainable practices are the most obvious.  The main objective is to reduce the need for the use of chemicals and create a healthy viable biodiversity where the vineyard can survive. 

Some vintners are using sheep to mow and fertilize their vineyards.  Sheep along with ducks work to control pests and weeds.

Cover crops such as grasses, legumes, mustard and radishes may be planted between the rows of vines to assist with soil fertility, enhance microbial activity and protect against soil erosion.  These plants attract desirable predatory insects that can help control the species that can damage the vines and fruit.

Use of alternative energy sources such as solar panels are also helpful.

Wineries

The proximity of the vineyard to the winery can have a sustainable impact.  The closer the two are together the less physical stress the grapes will have between harvesting and wine making.

A winery having a significant portion underground reduces heating and cooling energy requirements.  Underground cellars naturally maintain a consistent level of temperature and humidity.

Geothermal heating and cooling systems, as well as using gravity rather than pumps to transport the wine from crushing to fermentation and cellaring are also effective practices.

Sustainable Wine

In order to become a certified sustainable winery, it must be evaluated by a credited independent third party.  This helps insure that a sustainability symbol or logo (usually found on the back label) truly indicates that a wine is produced using sustainable methods.

These standards include composting waste to make fertilizer, conserving water and reducing energy consumption and pesticide use. To qualify, wineries must provide records of energy use and greenhouse gas emissions as well as water management and employee health and safety.

Sustainable wine-grape growing is a journey, not a destination.

Identifying Sustainable Wine

If you want to choose good-quality sustainable wine, take time to learn more about where the wine came from and how the grapes are produced. The easiest way to do this is to look for third-party labels, such as EMS, LIVE or SWO (Sustainable Wines Ontario) on bottles of wine when you shop.

Canadian Wineries Practicing Sustainability

Ontario

Many Ontario wineries have chosen to become a Sustainable Winemaking Ontario Certified Winery (SWO).  To be certified, the wineries are audited annually to ensure they are adhering to environmentally sustainable practices in their winemaking operations. Best practices include conservation of water, reduction in waste and wastewater and implementation of energy efficiency programs, including the use of sustainable power sources.

Certified Ontario wineries must also produce VQA wines, which are made from 100% locally grown grapes. Local wines inherently have a smaller carbon footprint and also play a vital role in preserving local economies. They are an integral part of a community’s economic health.

SWO Certified wineries must also cultivate positive relationships within their community. They must be leaders in social responsibility and be committed to producing authentic regional wines.  

SWO wineries and wines can be identified by the green leaf icon found on labels and in the Wine Country Ontario Travel Guide.

Participating SWO wineries are listed below:

SWO Winery & Vineyard Certified

  • Cave Spring Vineyard
  • Château des Charmes
  • Flat Rock Cellars
  • Henry of Pelham Family Estate
  • Hidden Bench Estate Winery
  • Malivoire Wine Company
  • Pelee Island Winery & Pavilion
  • Southbrook  Organic Vineyards
  • Stratus Vineyards

SWO Winery Certified

  • Reif Estate Winery
  • Strewn Winery
  • Vineland Estates Winery

Some wineries also have additional certifications:

  • Certified Organic wineries use 100% grapes grown without the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers.  Instead, they fertilize with compost, compost teas, green manure and cover crops;
  • Biodynamic wines are generally certified through the Demeter Farm Standard, which reflects the biodynamic principle of the farm as a living organism: self-contained and self-sustaining, following the cycles of nature; and
  • Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a green building rating system. It promotes global adoption of green building and development practices through the implementation of universal performance criteria. It is administered in Canada by the Canada Green Building Council (CaGBC).

British Columbia

The first wines certified under a new made-in-BC sustainability program should be on shelves this year.  The certification process, Sustainable Winegrowing BC (SWBC), was originally scheduled to launch in April 2020, but was delayed by COVID-19. With the program up and running, BC vineyards and wineries are now able to apply for a third-party audit, receive certification and describe their wine as “made from grapes grown in a certified sustainable vineyard” or “made in a certified sustainable winery.”

Program development began more than 10 years ago, driven mostly by industry volunteers under the auspices of the BC Wine Grape Council.  The wineries involved include large wineries such as Arterra and Andrew Peller, medium-size wineries like Quails’ Gate and Hillside Estate, as well as some boutique wineries like Tantalus and Le Vieux Pin/La Stella.  Vineyard owners, consultants and Summerland Research and Development Centre scientists round out the membership.

To date, 68 vineyards and 37 of the province’s 280 wineries have completed the self-assessments.

In Closing

Sustainability is the way of the future.  Supporting these wineries is an investment in our own future and well-being.  The quality and flavour of these wines is equal to, or superior to non-sustainable wines.  Here’s to the future!

Sláinte mhaith

The All Canadian Wine Championships

With COVID seeming to be lessening its grip, life as we used to know it is once again beginning to slowly return. Part of that are the various wine competitions.  The 40th edition of the All Canadian Wine Championships was held from July 6th to 8th.  In total, 208 wineries submitted 1,327 wines to assess.

Assessments and awards were based as follows:

Trophies : “All Canadian Best Wines of the Year”

All wines are judged using the 100-point system. Trophies are awarded for each of the following categories:

  • Best Red table wine
  • Best White table wine
  • Best Dessert wine
  • Best Sparkling wine
  • Best Fruit wine

The award for Best Red Wine of the Year went to BC’s Dark Horse Vineyard for their 2016 Red Meritage ($60.00).

The Best White Wine of the Year was the 2020 Gewürztraminer ($20.69) from BC’s Wild Goose Vineyards and Winery.          

The Best Dessert Wine of the Year went to Ontario’s Peller Estates Winery for their 2019 Andrew Peller Signature Series Riesling Icewine ($89.85).

BC’s Forbidden Fruit Winery won the Best Fruit Wine of the Year award for their 2020 Flaunt Organic Sparkling Plum ($22.00).

Finally the Best Sparkling Wine of the Year award went to BC’s Gray Monk Estate Winery for their 2018 Odyssey Rose Brut ($29.90).

Double Gold medals / Best of Category were awarded to the single highest rated wine (using an average of the aggregate judges’ scores) from each of the categories. These wines were all submitted for the Trophy round.

Medals of Merit: Gold, Silver, Bronze were awarded in the following manner:

  • Gold awards were awarded to those wines scoring in the top 10 percentile.
  • Silver awards of merit were issued to those wines scoring in the second 10 percentile.
  • Bronze awards of merit were given to those wines scoring in the third 10 percentile.

The overall results by province were as follows:

  • BC          4 Trophies / 29 Double Gold / 81 Gold / 75 Silver / 88 Bronze (759 entries)
  • ON         2 Trophies / 22 Double Gold / 38 Gold / 50 Silver / 40 Bronze  (465 entries)
  • QC          1 Double Gold / 7 Gold / 6 Silver / 4 Bronze (57 entries)
  • NS          3 Gold / 2 Bronze  ( 14 entries)
  • NB          1 Double Gold / 1 Gold / 5 Bronze (23 entries)
  • PEI         1 Double Gold / 3 Silver /  1 Bronze   (10 entries)
  • AB          3 Double Gold / 2 Gold / 1 Silver (11 entries)
  • MB          1 Double Gold (4 entries)
  • SK           1 Double Gold / 1 Gold / 3 Silver / 3 Bronze (18 entries)
  • Yukon     0 (4 entries)

All of the results are available at https://allcanadianwinechampionships.com/acwc-2021-results/

With the All Canadian Wine Awards completed, I look forward to the National Wine Awards that were deferred until the fall.

Sláinte mhaith

British Columbia’s Movers and Shakers for 2021

I have put together my 2021 list of British Columbia wineries to watch for.  Not all of these wines will be available at your local wine store; some are available in British Columbia wine stores, but most may be purchased online or directly from the winery. 

My selections are based on my interpretation of recent trends, the wineries successes and the quality of their wine, their wine-making practices and what makes them stand out above their competitors at the present time.  My list is presented in no particular order.

Mission Hill Family Estate Winery, West Kelowna

Mission Hill uses sustainable organic farming practices with the use of modern technology. Their wines are carefully aged with new and Old World techniques.  They employ the use of bees, falcons, and chickens in lieu of pesticides and insecticides. Cover crops, earthworms, and compost are used in place of chemical fertilizers.

Their winemakers’ practices are fundamentally rooted in Old World techniques that are supported with modern technology.  Drones provide a high-level view of the vineyard’s health. Soil science pinpoints the areas where best to plant the vines.

The winemaking team strives to be continually innovative, combining fermentation and maturation vessel traditions with future trends.  The equipment and processes are designed to best serve the wines.

Mission Hill has 3 collections of wines: the Reserve Collection, Terroir Collection and the Legacy Collection.

Reserve Collection

The Reserve Collection expresses hand-selected blocks of grapes, extreme viticulture management, longer barrel time, and increased lees stirring, which is a process to handle the yeast during the fermentation process.

Terroir Collection

Only the top 3% of all of the winery’s fruit is hand-selected for these wines and each individual lot is carefully tasted throughout the winemaking process to ensure its quality level before the final blend.

Legacy Collection

The grapes are hand-harvested and hand-sorted, consisting of the top 1% of the harvest from all of their vineyards. They benefit from extended barrel aging which is followed by a 24-month period in-bottle prior to release.

These wines are small lot and limited production collectibles. Cellar-worthy, they may be aged for decades. The collection includes Compendium, Quatrain, Prospectus, Perpetua and their flagship wine, Oculus.

Covert Farms Family Estate, Oliver

Covert Farms Family Estate practices organic farming with minimal intervention winemaking.  Regenerative agriculture offers many benefits to the farming ecosystem such as increasing soil organic matter, greater water holding capacity, improved nutrient cycling, pest and disease suppression through enhanced soil biology, and ultimately higher nutrient density in the vines.

They hope to introduce Dry Farming to the vineyards within the next few years which would provide such benefits as enhanced resiliency to climate change and potential increase in wine quality attributes.

They practice regenerative farming, which is based on five principles that need to be implemented together: no-till or minimal tillage, keeping the ground covered, species diversity, keeping living roots in the soil as much as possible and integrating livestock.

Regenerative agriculture offers many benefits to the ecosystem such as increasing soil organic matter, carbon capture, greater water holding capacity, improved nutrient cycling, pest and disease control through enhanced soil biology, and ultimately higher nutrient density within their crops.

Minimizing tillage is challenging in organic agriculture as this is one of the only means to manage weeds. They have been adapting their systems and processes and have had good success in the vineyards.  Interestingly, the longer the soil is undisturbed, the fewer weeds there are. 

Tantalus Vineyards, Kelowna

Tantalus Vineyards put incredible care into everything they do, from farming to winemaking and including the winery being Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified.  It is also LIVE certified.  LIVE has independently certified the sustainable practices of winegrowers in the Pacific Northwest, using the latest in university research and internationally accredited standards.

Riesling is the major focus at Tantalus; it is an Okanagan icon.  However, their Pinot Noir is very good as well. 

Final Thoughts

Obviously these are far more than just 3 good wineries in British Columbia.  In fact I have purposely excluded some of my personal favourites from this list as they were not what I consider as the innovative leaders this year. Included in that list would be Osoyoos Larose, Quails Gate and Gray Monk.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will find many of the wines produced by these wineries outside of British Columbia.  However, lucky for us many of the wineries offer online ordering.

Sláinte mhaith

Ontario’s Movers and Shakers for 2021

With COVID-19 finally starting to loosen its grip over the country and the hopes that people will be able to begin moving more freely again, I have put together my 2021 list of wines to watch for.  Not all of these wines will be available at your local wine store; some can only be purchased online or directly from the winery. 

One significant indicator of which wineries are making an impact is usually the Ontario Wine Awards.  However, COVID-19 caused the 2021 awards to be cancelled.  The 2020 awards were conducted virtually but the organizers decided to forego the 2021 awards with the exception of the ‘Winemaker of the Year Award, which will be announced sometime during the summer.  A second indicator is the National Wine Awards, which for 2021 has been deferred from June to October.

Selecting a list of top wineries is very subjective.  Depending on the reviewer, ratings may be based on any or all of:

  • Customer visit experience at the winery
  • Overall service of the winery
  • The winery facility and amenities
  • The variety of wines offered for sale
  • Price point
  • The quality of the wine

For the purposes of this review I have based my opinions on my interpretation of recent trends, the wineries successes, and the quality of their wine, their wine-making practices and what makes them stand out above their competitors at the present time.  My list is presented in no particular order.

Rosehall Run Vineyard, Prince Edward County

Having won the 2020 Ontario Wine Awards “Red Wine of the Year” for its 2018 ‘JCR Pinot Noir Rosehall Vineyard’ I am looking forward to seeing what Rosehall Run will do this year.  I was fortunate enough to visit The County last fall and taste this prize winner, as well as bring a few bottles home.  Based on last year’s performance, I would think that this year’s Pinot Noir release will be worth getting a hold of.

2020 was not the first time Rosehall Run has received an award.  Their recognized achievements go back to 2006 and they have even had their wine included on the menu for a Royal visit.

Angels Gate Winery, Niagara

Winemaker Philip Dowell was named 2020’s ‘Winemaker of the Year’ at the Ontario Wine Awards. Dowell has a simple philosophy on winemaking; it’s all about balance both in the vineyard and in the actual wine. It’s about bringing together the ‘terroir’, ‘elevage’ and ‘typicity’ of wine. The ‘terroir” is the character of the grape from a specific vineyard site; ‘elevage’ is the progress the wine takes through the cellar during its maturation; and ‘typicity’ is the distinctive vinous character each wine has.

Angels Gate Winery produces Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Shiraz.

Karlo Estates Winery, Prince Edward County

Karlo has rebounded after some struggles following the 2014 death of its founder and winemaker, Richard Karlo.  Karlo has redeveloped its vision, which is to promote sustainability and show that it is possible to be respectful of the planet while producing award-winning wines. Karlo was the first certified vegan wine in the world. Not only is the wine in the bottles certified vegan but all the vineyard practices are vegan as well.

Personally, I am a big fan of both the Van Alstine white and red Port, as well as their Quintus which is made using Malbec, Petit Verdot, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

The Picone Vineyard, Niagara

The Picone Vineyard was a complete mystery to me prior to their winning the White Wine of the Year award at the 2020 Ontario Wine Awards for their 2017 ‘Charles Baker Riesling’.  The vineyard is small, only 10 acres.

In addition to the Riesling, they produce Fogolar Cabernet Franc, which is made from a one-acre block with prized vines that are 30+ years old.

Being committed to enhancing the environment by using sustainable practices in their winery and vineyard, the Wine Council of Ontario has certified Picone for sustainability management of their vineyard.

Interestingly, the owner, Mark Picone, is an internationally trained chef.  As well as owning the winery, Mark is a Chef Professor at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute.  What better way to showcase his wine than by pairing them with his own food creations.

Picone Vineyard may be small but it seems to have great future potential to become mighty.

Final Thoughts

Obviously these are not all the good wineries in Ontario, in fact far from it. However, these are the ones that caught my attention this past year.  Unfortunately, it is unlikely that you will find any of their offerings in your local wine or liquor store.  However, if you find yourself in either the Niagara region or The County, visiting these wineries could be a fruitful (no pun intended) experience. Most of the wineries offer online ordering as well.

Sláinte mhaith

Red Varietals Grown in Canada

Photo credit: WinesInNiagara.com

This week I conclude my review of the grape varietals grown in British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia.  The focus is on red wine grapes grown in these 3 provinces.

Baco Noir

Baco Noir is a hybrid red wine grape variety created by Francois Baco.  In 1951 the variety was brought to the cooler viticulture regions of North America, such as British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia, New York, Michigan, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Oregon.

Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc is one of the major black grape varieties worldwide. It is principally grown for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the Bordeaux style, but can also be vinified alone. In addition to being used in blends and produced as a varietal in all 3 Canadian provinces and the United States, it is sometimes made into ice wine in these regions.

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon making a bright, pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the world’s most widely recognized red wine grape varieties. It became internationally recognized through its prominence in Bordeaux wines where it is often blended with Merlot and Cabernet Franc. From France and Spain, the grape spread across Europe and to the New World where it found new homes in places like California’s Santa Cruz Mountains, Paso Robles, Napa Valley, New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Chile, British Columbia and Ontario.

The classic profile of Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be a full-bodied wine with high tannins and noticeable acidity that contributes to the wine’s aging potential. In cooler climates like Canada, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to produce wines with blackcurrant notes that can be accompanied by green bell pepper notes, mint and cedar which will all become more pronounced as the wine ages.   In more moderate climates the blackcurrant notes are often seen with black cherry and black olive notes while in very hot climates the currant flavours can veer towards the over-ripe and “jammy” side.

Castel

The grape was created in 1953 by Ollie A. Bradt, at what is now the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre. Today the grape is widely planted in Nova Scotia with some plantings in Ontario. The grape is hardy, early-ripening and disease resistant.

De Chaunac

De Chaunac is a French-American hybrid wine grape variety used to make red wines. The grape was named after Adhemar de Chaunac, a pioneer in the Ontario wine industry.

De Chaunac is known to have a very vigorous growth habit and good resistance to mildew. It is grown in varying amounts for wine production across northeastern North America, especially in the winegrowing regions of New York, Pennsylvania, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Michigan and Ohio.

Gamay

Gamay is a purple-coloured grape variety used to make red wines, most notably grown in Beaujolais and in the Loire Valley of France.  It has often been cultivated because it makes for abundant production.  It is grown in all 3 of the Canadian wine provinces.

Leon Millot

Léon Millot is a red variety of hybrid grape used for wine. The variety was named after the winemaker and tree nursery owner Léon Millot.  The grapes are grown in Nova Scotia.

Lucie Kuhlmann

This is a Kuhlmann hybrid variety, with growing and ripening characteristics similar to Leon Millot and Marechal Foch, though less widely grown. The wine, like Leon Millot, is capable of deep colour with a pronounced berry-like fruitiness. Wines made from Lucie Kuhlmann tend to have a slightly firmer tannic structure compared to Leon Millot.  These grapes are grown in Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Malbec

Malbec is a purple grape variety that creates a dark red intense wine with robust tannins.  In addition to being bottled on its own it is also commonly blended with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon to create the red French Bordeaux blend or is blended with Cabernet Franc and Gamay. Other wine regions use the grape to produce Bordeaux-style blends.

In addition to France, Malbec has become an Argentine varietal but is also becoming popular in British Columbia and Ontario.

Marechal Foch

Marechal Foch is a hybrid French red wine grape variety. It was originally known as Kuhlmann 188-2.  The vines were imported to North America in the mid 1940s, where it was subsequently renamed Marechal Foch in honour of Marshall Ferdinand Foch, Supreme Allied Commander during the First World War.

Marechal Foch ripens early and it is cold-hardy and resistant to fungal diseases. The quality of wine produced is dependent on the age of the vines, and the flavour profile associated with many new-world hybrid varietals is much reduced in comparison to wine made from older vines.

Today Marechal Foch is grown in British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Marquette

Marquette is a blue/black-berried variety introduced in 2006 by the University of Minnesota in the United States. Marquette is the cousin of Frontenac, a well-known French-American hybrid.

Marquette is promising for cold-climate producers in North America, and a number of plantings have been established in Minnesota, Vermont, New York and Nova Scotia.

The grape has high sugar levels and moderate acidity. Marquette wines are typically medium bodied, with aromas of cherries, blackcurrants and blackberries. In some cases more complex aromas such as tobacco and leather may also be exhibited, with spicy pepper notes on the finish.

Merlot

Merlot is a dark blue wine grape variety that is used by itself, as well as a blending grape and for varietal wines. Its softness and fleshiness, combined with its earlier ripening, makes it a popular grape for blending with Cabernet Sauvignon, which tends to be higher in tannin.

Along with Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot, Merlot is one of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wine, and it is the most widely planted grape in the Bordeaux wine regions. Merlot is also one of the most popular red wine varietals.

While Merlot is made around the world, there tends to be two main styles.  There is the International style that produces inky, purple coloured wines that are full in body with high alcohol and lush, velvety tannins with intense, plum and blackberry fruit.  The second style is the Bordeaux style where the harvesting of the grapes takes place earlier to maintain acidity. This style produces more medium-bodied wines with moderate alcohol levels that have fresh, red fruit flavours of raspberries and strawberries.

In Canada Merlot is grown in British Columbia and Ontario.

Mischurnitz

This vine is from Eastern Europe but is now being grown in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia. In 1983 a wine from Nova Scotia was voted the ‘best wine of Canada’ in a blind competition to supply the Canadian Embassies around the world. More recently two other Nova Scotia wineries, Jost Vineyards and Sainte Famille, are making notable wines with Michurinetz.

This extremely cold-hardy and vigorous vine typically produces red wines with tannic strength. The grapes also typically have extremely high natural acidity, and low sugar levels.

Petit Verdot

Petit Verdot is a variety of red wine grape that is mainly used in classic Bordeaux blends. It adds tannin, colour and flavour, in small amounts, to the blend. Petit Verdot has attracted attention among winemakers in the New World, where it ripens more reliably and has been made into a single varietal wine. It is also useful in ‘stiffening’ the mid palate of Cabernet Sauvignon blends.  It is grown in British Columbia and Ontario.

Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir is a red wine grape that is grown around the world, mostly in the cooler climates.  It is chiefly associated with the Burgundy region of France. Pinot noir is now used to make red wines around the world. Regions that have gained a reputation for red Pinot Noir wines include Oregon, California, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the wine regions of Canada.

When young, wines made from Pinot Noir tend to have red fruit aromas of cherries, raspberries and strawberries. As the wine ages, there is the potential to develop more vegetal and barnyard aromas that can contribute to the complexity of the wine.

Syrah

Syrah, also known as Shiraz, is a dark-skinned grape variety grown throughout the world and used primarily to produce red wine.

The style and flavour profile of Syrah wines are influenced by the climate where the grapes are grown.  Moderate climates tend to produce medium to full-bodied wines with medium-plus to high levels of tannins and notes of blackberry, mint and black pepper. In hot climates, Syrah is more consistently full-bodied with softer tannin, jammier fruit and spice notes of licorice and earthy leather.

Syrah is used as a single varietal, as well as in blends. It can be found all over the world from France to Chile, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, California, Washington, British Columbia and Ontario.

Zweigelt

Widely planted in Austria, Zweigelt vines have made inroads in Washington and the Canadian wine regions of Ontario and British Columbia.  There are some plantings in Hungary. In the Czech Republic it is known as Zweigeltrebe and is the third-most widely planted red-grape variety, comprising approximately 4.7% of total vineyards. It grows in most of the wine regions in Slovakia and now in Belgian and Polish vineyards.

Sláinte mhaith