From a suitcase of dirt: Konzelmann Estate Winery as October’s Winery of the Month



A successful restaurateur, knowledgeable about food and wine, Friederich Konzelmann was a man of foresight, always willing to try out a new idea. As demand for his homemade wines increased in his restaurants in Germany, he determined it was time to branch out into commercial winemaking creating Konzelmann Estate Winery in 1893, and a storied winemaking family was established.

Friederich was soon producing over 200,000 litres of wine, and the successful business was passed from one generation to the next. Great grandson, Herbert Konzelmann joined the family business in 1958. It continued to grow, almost doubling production levels, but as time went on, grapes became harder to source, urbanization and industry increased the demand for land, and vineyards became more expensive to acquire. As a consequence of a hunting trip to the western Canada, Herbert began planning in the early 1980’s to move Konzelmann Estate Winery to Canada. He returned to Canada – to Niagara this time – asking a real estate agent to show him some available land on the lakeshore. As the agent was regretfully stating there was no available land, Herbert noticed a peach orchard – ‘What about that?’ he said via his interpreter. Herbert took a suitcase of dirt from the intriguing orchard back to Germany for analysis.

The results showed that the combination of mineral-rich soil, available sunlight and heat units far greater than in Germany, convinced Herbert to purchase the property in Niagara and sell his operation in Germany. Similar to other entrepreneursin his family before him, Friederich was breaking new ground in the Ontario wine industry alongside with pioneers Don Ziraldo, Karl Kaiser (both from Inniskillin), Ewald Reif (Reif Estates Winery) and Joseph Pohorly (Joseph`s Wines).

We are delighted to share with you the results of Herbert’s emphasis on quality. Konzelmann Estate Winery has won hundreds of awards for its wines around the world. They were the first Canadian winery to make Wine Spectator’s Top 100 in 2008 with their highly acclaimed Vidal Ice Wine VQA 2006. More recently, the 2008 Vidal Ice Wine was awarded the Gold Best in Class at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in the UK, and the 2008 Gewürztraminer won Silver at the Ontario Wine Awards.

Your Savvy Selections offers you a combination of premium wine, well priced and outstanding quality.We are confident that you will enjoy every sip of:
Pinot Grigio Reserve VQA 2009 – alluring & silky
Four Generations Barrel-Aged Pinot Noir VQA 2007 – big spicy & plush
Four Generations Heritage 2007 – a complex full-bodied red blend
OPTIONAL WINE: Winemaster`s Barrel Aged Chardonnay VQA 2007

Your invitation to these upcoming Savvy Events

September 22-25 – Savvy Company is pleased to be organizing the food & wine events in Ottawa’s Little Italy for La Vendemmia harvest celebration. This 4 day festival is chock o block full of free and ticketed events showcasing art, wine and food . Check out the full event listing, at www.lavendemmiaottawa.com We will see you there!

Debbie & the Savvy Team

Konzelmann Estate Winery
Presented by Sommelier Susan Desjardins

At 74 years of age, Winemaster Herbert Konzelmann (far left) continues the family tradition of adventure and innovation, planting new varieties, experimenting with different styles of wines and, above all, continuously improving quality from one vintage to the next.

He recognizes that expectations have changed over the generations. “In the old days, there was little competition and wine was made locally using the old methods of our ancestors.” Now, with the wide range of wines available to consumers, wine purchasers expect high quality. Herbert’s focus is on German-style wines with softer structure, as his customers prefer. The acquisition of advanced equipment, the availability of precision instruments and acquired know-how contribute to the quality of the wines. In addition, he has purchased a second property inland, where the growing conditions and terroir favour the big red varietals as well as Riesling. Winemaker Eric Pearson explains, “Rieslings from this particular vineyard display more petrol notes, while those from our lakeshore vineyard are notably fruitier.”

The Winemaster’s Collection wines – in our Savvy Selection – receive particular focus, and are produced only in excellent vintages (winespeak: years). Only vines of a certain maturity are harvested for these wines, cropped to a low yield the equivalent of the fruit of 2 vines per bottle of wine. Using extended skin contact and slow fermentation, these wines offer soft tannins, balance, concentrated fruit flavours and ageability. With each sip of the wines in this month`s Savvy Selections, we anticipate that you will taste the difference.

When Herbert was looking for an assistant winemaker, he approached Eric Pearson, a bio-chem grad from Brock University who had done his thesis under the supervision of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Program and who had worked in the Konzelmann vineyard during his university years. After 2 years at Stratus, Eric was delighted with the opportunity to rejoin Konzelmann. “I love wine and I love what I’m doing. My nonno made wine and as a child I used to help him. Growing up in St. Catharines, I used to run through the vineyards with my friends having Concord grape fights – our parents weren’t too impressed!”

Since he started working with Herbert, the two of them work as a team. “Our palates are similar, which is critical in this relationship. And Eric’s education in bio-chemistry brings a unique set of skills to our partnership and to experimentation,” Herbert explains. Eric continues, “We taste together, and Herbert always asks my opinion – usually we’re very close in our assessment. And when we discuss how to create a wine stylistically, there’s good compatibility on the direction.”

Eric has grown into the position as winemaker, while he continues to work with Herbert on experiments in the vineyard and in the cellar. For instance, they are trying different techniques of crop thinning to enhance the depth of flavour of their wines while also experimenting with different aging techniques to craft the soft yet structured wines that Herbert wants to create. The 2010 vintage will no doubt offer some assistance! Eric reports, “2010 looks very promising. The aromatic whites are outstanding, and the big reds are looking really powerful. It was a good vintage right across the board.”

Looking back, Herbert explained that he moved his family to Canada was at a time when the wine industry was in its infancy stage. They arrived with ten 40 foot containers brimming over with winemaking equipment plus the family household possessions. “We took a big risk coming here. When I went to the Canadian Consulate for our visas, I explained that we were immigrating to Canada to start a winery in Niagara. The officer laughed and told me to go ahead and help make Canada famous”. Herbert smiled in reflection. “I am very glad I bought our property and have great pride that I have created wines that have helped to put Canada on the world stage.”

Herbert’s Four Generations series wines honor his ancestors, and the future is bright as his grandson returns from Germany later this summer, ready to work alongside his grandfather, just as Herbert did many years ago, to continue to build on Konzelmann’s successful foundations.

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



Pinot Grigio Reserve VQA 2009, $17.20

Produced from fruit harvested from the property located inland, this wine underwent an extensive skin soak to extract body and structure – resulting in a faint hint of peachy pink colour. The fermentation process was designed to create a satiny texture and to bring out the floral, fruity notes.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Subtle, alluring and beautifully balanced, this is a dry yet fruity mid-weight wine has loads of pineapple, spiced apple, fresh citrus and a delicate floral note. A silky texture is matched with refreshing acidity and underlying minerality, the persistent finish juicy and fruity.

Suggested Food Pairing:A versatile wine that would pair well with chicken, pork or fish, or just enjoy it on its own!

Cellaring:A great wine to enjoy now or in the next couple of years.

Four Generations Barrel-Aged Pinot Noir VQA 2007, $30.20

The focus on this wine started in the vineyard with the selection of 2 blocks right by the lake of different Pinot Noir clones which are known for delivering complementary characteristics. Longer hang time increased the depth of flavour, while an extended maceration extracted further flavour, pigmentation and structural components.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a wine with great depth and breadth of flavour. Ruby in colour, its rich, ripe, aromatic, it’s loaded with plush spiced berries, cherries, vanilla and a subtle earthiness. Robust, powerful and satiny, it displays a masterful balance of acidity, fruit and supple tannins, offering lingering notes of dark chocolate on the finish. Wow!

Suggested Food Pairing:This wine calls for a substantial meat dish – our Savvy Sommeliers recommend beef, lamb or duck.

Four Generations Heritage VQA 2007 $25.20

A blend of Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, each varietal was aged separately, with the goal to create a top-tier wine to celebrate the Konzelmann family history. After extensive barrel tasting by Herbert and Eric, the three varietal wines were combined in the proportions deemed to create the desired style, then further aged as a blend.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Full bodied and complex, this blend entices with beautifully integrated aromas – plum, cassis, spice and a wisp of smoky toasty herbal notes. Velvety on the palate, it’s plush with rich ripe dark fruit elegantly balanced with ripe tannins and defined acidity. There’s a hint of pepper and cocoa on the long warm finish.

Suggested Food Pairing:This wine would be delicious with a herb encrusted roast leg of lamb, or savour it with aged hard cheeses.

Cellaring: Drinking well now, this wine will cellar for 3-5 years.

OPTIONAL WINE: Winemaster`s Barrel Aged Chardonnay VQA 2007
$14.00 (reduced from $16.00)

We couldn`t believe it when we discovered within the premium portfolio a wine that is outstanding & only $14 – a steal!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Dry, medium to full bodied, this elegant wine would be perfect to enjoy as summer rolls gently (I hope!) into fall. In the aroma and taste there are notes of warm spices, fresh baked apple pie and a hint of orange at the finish. Its creamy texture has just-enough-oak that make it an absolutely pleasant wine to enjoy.

Cellaring: Heralding from the outstanding vintage of 2007, this wine is ready to enjoy now.


With Konzelmann Pinot Grigio…

Warm Dijon Salmon Salad
Susan adapted from the original recipe that appeared Ottawa Citizen
Serves 4


2 salmon fillets, approx. 8 oz each
1 C thin green beans, trimmed
½ C toasted slivered almonds
4 C mixed greens
1 Tbsp ground white pepper, or to taste


1 tsp Dijon mustard

½ lemon, juice of
4 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt to taste


1.Gently poach or grill salmon.


2.Meanwhile, cook beans in boiling water until bright green & tender. Drain & reserve with salmon, keeping both warm.


3.Mix dressing ingredients together. Portion greens on 4 plates and place beans, then salmon on top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds.


4.Drizzle dressing over each salad and serve.

With Konzelmann Four Generations Pinot Noir

Duck Breasts with Dried Cherries
Lucy Waverman & James Chatto, A Matter of Taste Cookbook
Serves 4


4 single boneless duck breasts (approx. 10 oz each)
2 tsp finely chopped gingerroot
1 tsp finely chopped garlic
2 tsp cracked peppercorns
2 tsp cracked coriander seeds
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
½ tsp granulated sugar

¼ C red wine

1 ½ C chicken stock

¼ C dried cherries

2 Tbsp butter, diced




1.Score duck at ½” intervals. Combine ginger, garlic, peppercorns & coriander seeds. Rub into duck. Place breasts skin-side down in a large cold skillet. Turn heat to medium & cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low & cook for 15 minutes, or until fat is rendered. Drain fat as it accumulates in pan. Turn duck breasts and cook 2 minutes longer.


2.Preheat oven to 400F. Place breasts skin side up on a rack in a baking pan. Roast for 7-10 minutes, or until pink. Discard fat from skillet while breasts are roasting. Increase heat to high and add vinegar & sugar. Cook for about 30 seconds or until sticky. Add wine & cook 2 minutes longer. Add stock, bring to a boil & boil for 3-4 minutes, or until sauce is thickened & reduced. Add cherries & simmer for a few minutes.


3.Remove skillet from heat & stir in butter.


4.Slice duck & serve with sauce. Enjoy!


With Konzelmann Four Generations Heritage…

Umbrian Slow-Cooked Lamb with Pecorino
Lucy Waverman & James Chatto, A Matter of Taste Cookbook
Serves 6


3 lbs. boned lamb shoulder, cut in 6-oz pieces
1 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary

2 bay leaves, crumbled

4 cloves garlic, sliced
½ tsp hot red pepper flakes

¼ C olive oil
1 C chopped onions

½ C red wine

1 C beef or chicken stock

Salt & freshly ground pepper

1 C grated Pecorino cheese



1.Toss lamb with rosemary, bay leaves, garlic, red pepper flakes and 2 Tbsp oil. Refrigerate overnight, turning occasionally. Remove garlic & reserve

2.Pre-heat oven to 300F. Heat remaining 2 Tbsp oil in an ovenproof casserole over high heat. Brown lamb in batches for about 2 minutes per side, or until meat is a rich brown color. Remove to a plate.

3.Reduce heat to medium and add onions and reserved garlic slices to casserole. Sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in wine, scraping up any little pieces from bottom of pan. Bring to a boil. Add stock & combine well.


4.Return lamb to casserole, cover & bake for 1 hour. Uncover & continue to bake for 1 hour longer, or until meat is tender & glazed with sauce. Depending on size of casserole, sauce may reduce too much; add more stock if necessary. Sauce should be rich & slightly thickened.


5.Remove lamb & keep warm. Skim any fat from sauce. Strain sauce into a pot, pressing on any solids. Reheat & add salt & pepper if necessary.


6.Serve lamb with a little sauce. Liberally sprinkle lamb with cheese.




Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


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