Kevin Panagapka – the man behind 2027 Cellars has been a viticulturalist and winemaker ‘in the making’ for most of his life. His father, Don, has been making wines, winning wine competitions, and judging wines for decades. Surrounded by wine during his childhood, it was only natural for Kevin to be at his Dad’s side helping out
Then came time for his formal training. Kevin completed the Viticulture and Oenology program at Niagara College in 2002, then jumpstarted his winemaking career at Niagara’s Creekside Estate Winery and Flat Rock Cellars. In 2006, already dreaming of creating his own wines, Kevin travelled to New Zealand to participate in a harvest and helping out at Esk Valley Winery in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand.
You won’t find 2027 Cellars on a wine route map
Research and his international experience led Kevin to establish 2027 Cellars – a virtual winery. What is a virtual winery you ask? Essentially, it is a winery within a winery. By sharing space & equipment at Featherstone Estate Winery where he is the assistant winemaker, Kevin has made a business arrangement with Featherstone’s owners – David Johnson & Louise Engel – to make wines at their facility under a different brand and name. This enables Kevin to realize his dream of his own winery with low capital costs and also allows for Kevin to cultivate and harvest grapes from select mature vineyards owned by other wineries or grape growers in distinct Niagara sub-appellations. This approach underlies Kevin’s philosophy of winemaking – to meticulously manage the vineyards so that his small batch of handcrafted wines express the unique varietal character and distinct terroir of each vineyard. You will see what we mean when you have a sip of the outstanding wines in this month’s Savvy Selections. For starters, you will notice that the labels identify the vineyard name where Kevin sourced the grapes for the specific wine.
What does 2027 mean?
Kevin intentionally focuses on the three renowned international grape varieties that he feels are ideally suited to the Niagara climate – Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Together with his wife, Jodie, they purchased a small property on the Beamsville Bench, where they grow Pinot Noir. The winery name? The answer lies with the purchase of the land. When the vineyard was registered with the Grape Growers of Ontario, it was assigned number 2027!
In your Savvy Selections, you will find:
We’re on the cusp of spring with this March Savvy Selection, and Kevin’s focused portfolio gives us the opportunity to present some clean, fresh wines that will brighten your palate and lift your spirits. Our tasting has assured that you have the opportunity to taste one of each of the grape varieties he cultivates, including:
Foxcroft Vineyard Riesling VQA 2011 – a fragrant, fruity, well-balanced white wine
Foxcroft Vineyard Chardonnay VQA 2011 – just bottled in time for the March Savvy Selections, this wine is complex, creamy & lush – simply elegant!
Queenston Road Vineyard Pinot Noir VQA 2010 – dry, silky classic Burgundian-style red wine
You won’t find these wines at the LCBO
We have noticed that 2027 Cellars has a ‘cult following’. The wines are hard to come by, primarily because Kevin makes small batch wines (winespeak: low inventory of wine). This also results in his wines quickly selling out! After you enjoy these wines & would like additional bottles of your favorite, just give me a call on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send me an email to email@example.com As always, it would be my pleasure to arrange a delivery for you.
Cheers & Enjoy!
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins
As mentioned earlier, Kevin’s father – Don – is a well known amateur winemaker. Don is a member of the Kitchener Waterloo Winemakers Guild and was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Amateur Winemakers of Ontario. Kevin (in photo left) has great memories of working with his dad in the basement, or should I say ‘cellar’, in the family home. “My Dad never had enough hands when it came to bottling. It seems I’ve been around wine for most of my life!”, recalls Kevin. Early on in life, Kevin developed an interest in Burgundy, France and the wines from this famous region. “As winemakers, we tend to fall into one category – blends or not. Personally, I prefer to focus on single variety wines (winespeak: wines made with only one grape variety), explains Kevin.”
Wine that speaks from its roots
Kevin has a clear passion for wine that speaks to its roots.” I have always believed that great wines are grown, not made and that quality fruit produces quality wines. My interest is in varieties that showcase terroir and I enjoy investigating the differences between the various vineyards from which I source my fruit.” he comments. “It also ties into the ‘wild fermentation’ and ‘unfiltered’ wine style of the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. It’s what makes winemaking and viticulture interesting for me, keeps me engaged in the process from start to finish.”
Precise & specific
Kevin is very precise in the criteria he looks for in the vineyards and vines he sources. “I look for quality vineyards that are at least 10 years old. I buy specific rows and manage the cropping levels, leaf removal and general care of all the vineyard blocks. This allows me to control the quality of the wines from the beginning of the season in the vineyard, through harvest and the winemaking process.” Kevin sources only Weiss 21-B clone Riesling from the Niagara Escarpment Bench sites, which produces a lovely aromatic quality in the wine. His Chardonnay is sourced from Lincoln Lakeshore and Twenty Mile Bench sub appellations, while the Pinot Noir comes from the Twenty Mile Bench and St. David’s Bench. Why does Kevin focus on these three varieties? “They seem best suited to our climate, as these are the varieties that can be counted on to ripen fully every year in Niagara.”
Both the Riesling and the Chardonnay are from the Foxcroft Vineyard, which is located on the lower portion of the Twenty Mile Bench sub appellation, offering slightly warmer summer temperatures. As Kevin indicated, “the fruit from this site tends to ripen earlier than the higher elevation sites, producing a perfect balance between ripe fruit and vibrant acidity.” The soils in this area include deep clay and till and display quite a variation in texture. Although they are well drained, their water-holding capacity is especially valuable in the warmer periods of the growing season when rainfall is limited. The Queenston Road vineyard is located in the sub appellation of St. David’s Bench in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region and is where the 9-year-old vineyard of Kevin’s Pinot Noir grows. This parcel of land benefits from gentle north-facing slopes, sheltered by the Escarpment. Good airflow ensures the vines benefit from the early onset of spring, while the deep, rich clay soils ensure the vines are well-anchored in the ground.
As a virtual winery, 2027 Cellars does not have its own winery or wine shop. Kevin recalls, “In 2007, I proposed the idea to Featherstone Estate Winery husband and wife owners, David Johnson and Louise Engle. Luckily, they were receptive to the idea, and they have been supportive ever since! I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to make wine at their facility.”
Kevin appreciates David & Louise’s commitment to sustainable agriculture, yet is also realistic about the challenges of growing quality fruit in Niagara. “There is alot of disease pressure here due to the humidity, so it’s very tough for wineries to establish viable organic or biodynamic grape-growing and winemaking processes. My focus is on quality fruit from producers who have the same high standards as I do.”
While naturally passionate about what he does, Kevin is modest about the success of his wines. His 2009 Foxcroft Vineyard Riesling took top honours at Ontario’s Cuvée Awards. When asked about this success, what does he say? “The awards have been good recognition for the brand. But I would really like people to judge the wines for themselves. If they enjoy the wine, I’ve done my job!”
So, while you have the opportunity to do just that through these Savvy Selections, if you find yourself in Niagara, you can stop in at Featherstone Estate Winery to taste 2027 wines, and if you’d like a tour contact Kevin directly firstname.lastname@example.org
Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!
~ SAVVY SOMMELIER TASTING NOTES ~
Produced from the fruit of 15-year-old vines, this Riesling was fermented in stainless steel and bottled early to preserve its aromatic intensity & crispness.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Brilliant straw/green in colour, this fragrant wine offers complex aromas—jasmine, orchard & stone fruit, citrus, mineral and a touch of mango. Dry, silky, flavours of key lime and orchard fruit marry with a kick of lively acidity, creating a clean, tangy finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: A versatile wine, sip it or pair with seafood or simply prepared chicken or pork.
Cellaring: Enjoy it now or cellar 3-5 years!
Produced from hand-harvested grapes, this Chardonnay was barrel fermented with wild yeast strains. As only 78 cases of the wine were produced, we’re fortunate to include this newly released wine for you & all of our Savvy Selections subscribers!
TIP: If you like this wine & want to order more, be sure to contact me pronto….this wine has limited inventory & will sell out fast!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: We were the first to sample this wine! It was bottled only a few days prior to the Savvy Selections panel tasting. Nevertheless, this wine showed its full potential.
Subtle aromas of toasted nut, butter and pear mingled with tropical notes suggesting pineapple and banana flambée. Elegant, mid-full weight, it’s creamy on the palate offering flavours of caramel apple, pear crisp, and toasted nut. Well balanced and lush, it gently warms the palate with delicate notes of white pepper that linger through the finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Enjoy with creamy pasta dishes, baked ham or roast chicken.
Cellaring: The wine will have experienced bottle shock, so we advise to let the wine rest for a month or so before serving or cellar 3-5 years.
Fermented using only naturally occurring wild yeasts, this alluring Burgundian-style wine was aged in seasoned French oak for 14 months, and is neither fined nor filtered.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Garnet hued, dry and silky, the wine has a plethora of aromas—cherry/berry, earth, vanilla, a touch of red licorice and notes of toasted marshmallow. Medium bodied, the bright red berry flavours wrap around a backbone of fine acidity and fine-grained tannins, overtones of pepper and spice flowing through the long dry finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with roasted duck, planked salmon or braised chicken.
Cellaring: Drinks well now, it will also cellar 5-7 years.
~ Recipes to Enjoy with your Savvy Selections ~
From Cooking with BC Wine, Townsin, T & C.
¾ white wine
2 Tbsp butter
1 small carrot, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 bay leaf
½ tsp dried thyme
15 large raw shrimp, unpeeled
½ C flour
4 C chicken or fish stock
2 Tbsp cream
Melt butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. Sauté carrot & onion with bay leaf & thyme until vegetables are soft. Add white wine and shrimp & poach for 8-10 minutes. Remove shrimp from pan & set aside.
Peel 8 shrimp, reserving shells. Dice the meat & set aside for garnish. Put the shells & the remaining unshelled shrimp in a food processor & blend into paste.
Slowly stir the shrimp paste into the poaching liquid then add the flour & mix well. Add the stock & return to boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Strain soup through a sieve & then cheesecloth before adding cream & reheating.
Serve into individual bowls & then add diced shrimp meat to garnish.
Linguine with Pears & Gorgonzola
From Epicurious.com (from Bon Apetit Magazine)
¼ cup butter
4 firm pears (about 2 lbs.), peeled, cored, sliced into 1/3 inch-thick strips
1 scant Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup canned low-salt chicken broth
4 oz. Gorgonzola cheese, crumbled (or to taste)
¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup whipping cream
¾ lb. linguine, freshly cooked
1/3 cup chopped pecans, toasted
Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pears & sauté until tender & beginning to brown but not soft, about 8 minutes. Using slotted spoon, carefully transfer pears to bowl.
Add rosemary to same skillet & stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add broth, Gorgonzola cheese, ½ C parmesan cheese & cream. Simmer until sauce thickens enough to coat spoon, whisking occasionally, about 6 minutes. Return pears & any accumulated juices to sauce. (Can be made 2 hrs ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Bring to simmer before continuing.
Add linguine & pecans to sauce. Toss over medium-low heat until sauce coats pasta, about 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Transfer to large bowl. Sprinkle with remaining ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese.
From epicurious.com (from The Silver Palate Cookbook)
4 chickens, 2 ½ lbs each, quartered (or skinless chicken thighs)
1 head of garlic, peeled & finely pureed
¼ cup dried oregano (or to taste)
Coarsely ground salt & pepper to taste
2 ½ cups red wine vinegar
½ cup olive oil
1 cup pitted prunes
½ cup pitted Spanish green olives
½ cup capers with a bit of juice
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup white wine
¼ cup Italian parsley (or fresh coriander), finely chopped
Preheat oven to 350F.
In a large bowl combine chicken quarters (or thighs), garlic, oregano, pepper & salt to taste, vinegar, olive oil, prunes, capers & juice, and bay leaves. Cover & let marinate, refrigerated, overnight.
Arrange chicken in a single layer in one or two shallow baking pans & spoon marinade over it evenly. Sprinkle chicken pieces with brown sugar & pour white wine around them.
Bake for 50-60 minutes, basting frequently with pan juices. Chicken is done when thigh pieces, pricked with a fork at their thickest, yield clear yellow (rather than pink) juice.
With a slotted spoon transfer chicken, prunes, olives & capers to serving platter. Moisten with a few spoonfuls of pan juices & sprinkle generously with parsley or cilantro. Pass remaining pan juices in a sauceboat.