Have you been to our favourite Ottawa Valley winery yet? If you Google Chris van Barr, and the first thing you’ll learn is that he is a successful lawyer specializing in intellectual property law, who also teaches in the subject at the University of Ottawa. But, dig a little deeper, and you’ll discover that he has roots on a farm in southern Ontario and has made his home in rural Ottawa.
Chris is a man who has a passion for the land as well as interesting, elegant wines. This deep-rooted passion led him to partner with Alan Krueger to establish KIN Vineyards, an Ottawa Valley winery where together they have transformed part of Chris’ 50-acre property in Kinburn (west of Ottawa) into a vineyard. This property includes Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, as well as hardy hybrid varieties Marechal Foch, Frontenac, Vidal and Muscat Ottonel. There is a twin site – a 50-acre Carp vineyard. The Carp vineyard was planted exclusively for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines.
Winemaker Brian Hamilton, a graduate of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, comes to KIN with prior experience as a winemaker at Malivoire, Southbrook Vineyard and Tawse Winery. These three wineries have been featured in Savvy Selections over the years and have grown their reputation for their focus on organic and biodynamic winemaking practices. Brian also has notable winemaking experience internationally, having worked a vintage in California, as well as one in New Zealand, where he further developed experience and expertise in the creation of cool-climate wines.
Alan, the KIN Viticulturalist, graduated from the University of Guelph, is an avid gardener and has taught at the Ottawa Waldorf School for many years. Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Waldorf schools, was also the founder of the holistic system of biodynamic farming, which significantly influenced the principles of current organic farming.
Chris (right in photo) and Alan (left in photo) both originally lived in Southern Ontario, and both worked on farms during high schools holidays, connecting whenthey coincidentally both moved to rural Ottawa. On cycling trips through the countryside, they talked about different types of environmentally friendly artisanal enterprises that they could partner in, including raising goats to produce cheese. But the idea that really struck a chord was the concept of growing grapes and producing wine organically. Alan said, “Given my experience with the Steiner philosophy at the Waldorf school, my ‘green thumb’, and my availability in the summer, I was the obvious choice to lead the work in the vineyards.
Chris is great with all types of farm equipment, so he deals with anything mechanical, as well as being the guiding financial and management hand of the business. Before we made any decisions, we arranged a trip to Niagara to meet with winemakers producing organic wines.” It was during this trip that Chris & Alan met Brian at Southbrook Vineyards. Over subsequent visits and countless questions, four years ago, Brian became a winemaking consultant at KIN. As you can imagine, he has been an invaluable resource & winemaking knowledge…not to mention all of his contacts in the industry.
“When I met with Chris and Alan during their visit at Southbrook, we spoke at length about organic and biodynamic production,” remembers Brian. Our common views on these philosophies really connected us as we established the principals for KIN Vineyards.” This spring, Brian took the plunge & moved to Ottawa to become KIN’s full-time winemaker as the team prepares for their first harvest on the Carp estate.
Here are some of our favourite KIN wines:
- KIN Chardonnay – This is a refined & silky smooth Chardonnay
- Frontenac ‘Dark Horse’ – a medium-bodied red wine with juicy cherry & berry flavours
- ‘Understory’ Marechal Foch – a rare variety that offers a unique fresh & fruit-dominated tastes
- KIN Pinot Noir – just released and making impressions. A well-integrated cool-climate wine that makes Brian’s talent shine
You can order bottles directly from us or visit this Ottawa Valley winery yourself if you’re in the area!
The vineyard on Chris van Barr’s Kinburn property strategically sits between the house and the forested ridge. Alan is convinced that the trees on the Carp Ridge offer protection to the vineyard from the harsh winter winds and the killing spring frosts.
Brian is impressed with the site too with the constant amount of sunshine in the vineyard and in terms of the milestones for grape growing and ripening, the Carp vineyard is performing at the same level as, or only a couple of days behind, many vineyards in Niagara.
Alan came across this special property while ferrying his children to after-school activities. It seemed ideal given the slope of the land.
Bring in the firefighters!
There’s great laughter as Alan describes the process of planting the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, with local firefighters volunteering to dig the holes, while high school students were recruited to hand plant the vines.
Patience. Patience. Patience!
Brian told us about the importance he puts on patience and the commitment he makes to nurturing the grapes at his Ottawa Valley winery. He also shared that nurturing the process of winemaking is also key to ensuring the faultless expression of the terroir in the wine. He sees the KIN wines – the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir – as a vehicle for cool-climate wine aficionados to experience pure flavours of the terroir, to learn about the personality of vitis vinifera in the Ottawa Valley and the ways in which organic and biodynamic practices deliver that unique experience. We’re so grateful to this Ottawa Valley winery for creating these experiences for winerlovers!
Brian laughingly talked about his ‘job’ since joining KIN full-time this spring. “I’m multi-tasking, marketing with restaurants, selling at farm markets, working in the vineyard and, oh, yes, I’ll be doing some winemaking soon as well!” But from his expression, it was obvious he was as excited as Alan and Chris.
Our Savvy Sommeliers think you’ll agree when you taste the wines that you’ll be lined up to taste their newest wines when they’re released!
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes
KIN ‘Dark Horse’ Frontenac
Never heard of Frontenac? Here’s a great opportunity to try a well-made wine, produced from the fruit of a vine that is a cross of a hybrid and the very cold hardy Vitis riparia, developed at the University of Minnesota and introduced in 1996. The grapes are quite small, which would suggest good flavour concentration, and wines from this grape generally show flavours of red fruits and good levels of acidity. Brian gave the must extended skin contact, resulting in intensely lovely dark colour. The wine was then aged it for several months in American oak to polish off the flavours.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep ruby, this offers intriguing aromas, combining perfumed notes of red rose, lifted red and black cherry notes and a subtle herbaceous character. Dry, medium bodied, you’ll note a touch of oak aging underlying the wash of tasty, juicy red berry and cherry flavours. There’s a roundness to the texture with a touch of warmth and oaky toast on the tangy finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Bright, fresh and flavourful, this will pair well with meals such as turkey with cranberry or with duck with a cherry reduction.
Cellaring: Drinking well now or cellar for 2-4 years
KIN Vineyards ‘Understory’ Marechal Foch
Marechal Foch (or just ‘Foch’) is a French hybrid that ripens early and is a vine that is cold hardy. Foch was grown in many Canadian vineyards until the 1980s, when government incentives to plant vitis vinifera led many grape growers to remove it. Now still grown in a handful of vineyards across the country where winemakers, like those at this Ottawa Valley winery, excel at producing intensely flavoured wine from the grapes of old vines, as well as fortified wines of great depth and intensity.
This Marechal Foch was produced from grapes grown in the Kinburn vineyard, the wine lightly aged in American oak.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Deep purple, this wine offers intense aromas of sweet dark berries along with earthy notes and a whiff of graphite. Dry medium bodied, its clean, fresh flavours of blueberry and blackberry are garnished with a light kiss of spice and toast, the fruit dominating through the tangy finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with roast lamb, gourmet burgers or an early autumn stew.
Cellaring: Drink now or over the next 12-18 months
KIN Chardonnay VQA
Produced from the fruit harvested from an acre in the Lincoln Lakeshore appellation, grown specifically for KIN, this Chardonnay is aged in very lightly toasted French oak barrels, 50% of which are new. Given the very limited production available from this Ottawa Valley winery’s own vineyards, (the first harvest of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir will take place this fall), Brian plans to continue to use this carefully selected fruit from Niagara.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Lovely restrained aromas of sweet vanilla, hints of melted butter, ripe tree fruit and citrus tantalize the nose. Dry, mid-weight, the wine shows real purity of fruit—crisp apple and juicy pear mingling with flavours of lemon-lime and a touch of grapefruit pith. It’s nicely balanced, clean and fresh in texture, showing notes of spice and white pepper on fresh finish. A true cool-climate Chardonnay!
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with seafood pasta, coquille St-Jacques, or roast chicken.
Cellaring: The wine was recently bottled, so we recommend waiting a month or so before opening. This wine will age 5-7 years
KIN Pinot Noir VQA
Produced from fruit from the same vineyard as the Chardonnay, cropped at 2 tons per acre. Brian selected two clones of Pinot Noir for this wine, one which delivers more tannins, while the other offers more intensity of colour and fruit. The grapes were gently pressed in a small basket press, the wine aged 10 months in French oak using two different toast levels at this Ottawa Valley winery. Picking Pinot is fussy work – yet many hands make light work.
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a classic, elegant cool-climate Pinot Noir, offering perfumed floral notes, subtle red fruit aromas, and hints of crushed leaves and earth. Dry, light-mid weight, nicely framed by lively acidity and light, fine-grained tannins, the wine also shows wonderful freshness of flavour with tangy red fruit—Morello cherry, raspberry and red plum skin to the fore. Brian’s light hand with oak is evident in the delicate notes of spice and vanilla on the finish.
Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with duck breast with a cherry sauce, or with grilled salmon or trout.
Cellaring: This wine was also recently bottled and will benefit if held a few more weeks. Consider keeping it for your Christmas turkey feast. It has the cellaring power to last 5-7 years.
Recipes to Enjoy With Your KIN Wines
With KIN Chardonnay…
Braised Pork Tenderloin with Apples
From Lucy Waverman, Dinner Tonight
2 Tbsp butter
1 lb. pork tenderloin
½ cup chopped onion
½ tsp dried rosemary (or 1 tsp fresh, if available)
½ cup apple juice
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
½ tsp Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
3 Macintosh apples peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
Heat butter in skillet on medium-high heat. When it is sizzling, add pork tenderloin. Sear meat for 2-3 minutes per side. Remove tenderloin, reserve & reduce heat to medium-low.
Add onion and rosemary to skillet & sauté for 5 minutes or until onion is softened. Add apple juice & vinegar, scraping up any bits in pan. Add mustard.
Raise heat & cook 2-3 minutes or until mixture is reduced by half.
Add apples & tenderloin to pan. Lower heat to medium & simmer gently for 20 minutes or until pork is firm & no longer pink. Slice & serve with roast potatoes, the apple mixture on the side.
With KIN ‘Dark Horse’ Frontenac…
Seared Duck Breast with Cherries & Port Sauce
2 5-6 oz. duck breast halves, or one 12-16 oz. duck breast half
2 Tbsp chilled butter, divided
¼ cup finely chopped shallot
½ cup low-salt chicken broth
8 halved pitted sweet red cherries, fresh or frozen
2 Tbsp Tawny Port
1 Tbsp orange blossom honey
Place duck breast halves between 2 sheets of plastic wrap. Pound lightly to even thickness (~ ½-3/4”). Discard plastic wrap. Using a sharp knife, score skin in ¾” diamond pattern (do not cut into flesh.
Melt 1 Tbsp butter in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle duck with salt & pepper. Add duck, skin side down, to skillet & cook until skin is browned & crisp, about 5 minutes. Turn duck breasts over, reduce heat to medium & cook until browned to desired doneness, about 4 minutes longer for small breasts & 8 minutes longer for large breast for medium-rare. Transfer to work surface, tent with foil to keep warm & let rest 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, pour all but 2 Tbsp drippings from skillet. Add shallot to skillet & stir over medium heat for 30 seconds. Add broth, cherries, Port and honey. Increase heat to high & boil until sauce is reduced to glaze, stirring often, about 3 minutes. Whisk in 1 Tbsp cold butter. Season sauce to taste with salt & pepper. (With this tasty sauce, you may wish to double the recipe!)
Thinly slice duck. Fan slices out on plates. Spoon over sauce & serve with roast autumn vegetables.
With KIN ‘Understory’ Maréchal Foch’ …
Roast Sirloin Steak with Mushroom Sauce
From Lucy Waverman, Dinner Tonight
1 3½ lb sirloin steak, about 2” thick
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
1 tsp paprika
2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
3 Tbsp butter
8 oz. wild mushrooms, sliced
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 cup red wine
1 ½ cup beef or chicken stock
2 Tbsp chopped parsley
Trim fat from steak. Combine mustard, garlic, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, rosemary, paprika and 1 Tbsp oil. Brush over both sides of steak. Season with salt & pepper. Marinate 4 hours or overnight in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 450F.
Heat remaining 1 Tbsp oil in large ovenproof skillet on medium-high heat. Add steak & cook 3 minutes on each side. Place skillet in oven & bake for 15-18 minutes for rare, or until desired degree of doneness. Place on carving board & let rest while making sauce.
Heat 2 Tbsp butter in skillet on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms & sauté until limp. Add balsamic vinegar & wine & reduce until ¼ cup remains. Add stock & reduce by half.
Reduce heat & stir in remaining 1 Tbsp butter. Stir in parsley. Slice steak thinly & top with mushroom sauce.
With KIN Pinot Noir…
Balsamic Chicken with Mushrooms & Sundried Cherries
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 Tbsp flour
½ lb. pancetta bacon
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped (or to taste)
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 cup dried cherries, chopped
¼ cup good quality balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste
Dredge chicken in flour seasoned with salt & pepper.
Over medium-high heat, fry pancetta in olive oil until crisp. Remove from the pan & set aside. Brown chicken on both sides in bacon fat then remove from pan. Sauté onion, garlic & mushrooms until soft.
Add cherries, wine, vinegar, chicken stock, pancetta & chicken & simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes (add extra chicken stock if evaporation requires). Check the seasoning & adjust with balsamic vinegar if necessary.
Serve with french green beans, roasted cherry tomatoes and mashed potatoes.
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