Posts Tagged ‘Canadian wines’

Pinot Noir is a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving Dinner

Posted by Shirley

Monday, October 4th, 2021

Let’s Go, Pinot!

By Karen Wright, Savvy Sommelier


Pinot Noir is an absolute classic red to pair with a Thanksgiving feast and a go-to for many of the Savvy sommeliers at this time of year.  Thanks to its refreshing nature, medium light body, and low tannins along with that classic pop of red berry flavours, you’ll find Pinot Noir to be the perfect foil for a rich Thanksgiving meal.

While its roots are firmly planted in its ancestral home in Burgundy, France, this variety is considered grape royalty by winemakers around the world and it has found success in many cool to moderately cool climate growing areas such as Oregon’s Willamette Valley, New Zealand’s Central Otago and right here in Ontario.  The Niagara Escarpment, Prince Edward County and Carp Ridge in the Ottawa Valley all have the limestone-rich soils and the cooler climate this fresh beauty prefers.

In the glass, the colour of Pinot Noir ranges from bright cherry juice to dark ruby. The warmer the climate, the bolder the colour, and the flavours will shift from cranberry, sour cherry and wild strawberry over to raspberry, dark cherry and clove spice.  In France and Ontario, expect red fruit to shine along with some wonderful earthy notes of mushroom and dried leaves plus elegant minerality… perfect for Thanksgiving dinner!

Savvy Wicked Wine subscribers recently received  the 2019 Small Lots Pinot Noir made by Pinot Noir superstar, Rosehall Run, to celebrate their 20th Anniversary this year.  Most of the wine was aged in two-year-old oak barrels, but some was aged in special stainless steel barrels fitted with cherry wood.  Your glass will fill with scents of cherry, mushroom, beets and violets – and on the palate, cherry and cranberry burst forward, complemented by silky tannins and the perfect level of acidity.

The Savvy Team is wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Sommelier Pro Tip:
Chill Pinot Noir for 15-20 mins before serving.


Another Busy Ontario Harvest Is Underway

Posted by Shirley

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

The Savvy Team loves connecting with Canadian wine & cider makers all year long to talk about the latest products being released & the changing consumer trends & winemaking techniques. It’s no surprise that autumn is the busiest season for anyone involved in making these beverages – from the vineyard & orchard crews growing the fruit to the winemakers and their support teams.

One very busy winemaker these days is Yvonne Irvine at Creekside Estate Winery in the Niagara region.
Fourteen years ago, Yvonne arrived at Creekside as a co-op student from Niagara College’s winemaking program. Today, she holds the title of Assistant Winemaker, working alongside Creekside’s head winemaker Rob Power, whom Yvonne credits for mentoring her through the years. “We’ve now developed a very cohesive working relationship,” says Yvonne, “and are like ‘yin & yang’ when we work together.”  Yvonne now oversees Creekside’s ‘Red Tractor’ brand of wines as well as the winery’s Chardonnay program and what’s more, this year she even started up her own ‘virtual’ winery with her husband!

When we chatted with Yvonne in late August, she was bracing for the busiest three months of her year. Even before the grape harvest begins (usually in September, depending on the region & the grape variety) Yvonne and the Creekside team were very busy trying to get all the tanks & barrels in the winery emptied & thoroughly cleaned as well as ordering in all the wine-making supplies needed before the fruit could start coming in.

Creekside has twelve acres of different grape varieties in its vineyard and its sister winery, Queenston Mile, has roughly thirty-five acres of vines. Yvonne also works closely with other grape growers in the Niagara region that provide Creekside with more fruit for some of their wines. Both she & Rob check in with those growers regularly before the harvest to talk about any potential problems as well as the ripeness of the grapes, tasting and helping the team make decisions about what will be harvested first. “There are certain grapes that are picked based on sugar levels & acidity levels,” says Yvonne. “But there are other grapes, like Sauvignon Blanc, where the flavour profile is more important, especially for the range of wines we make with that grape.”

A few months ago, Yvonne & her husband Rob Wallace made the decision to start up their own business as well – a virtual winery called Maenad Wine. Virtual wineries are becoming more popular in Ontario, with up & coming winemakers renting space & equipment from well-established winery operations.

Along with making interesting natural wines, like a Piquette, a Pet Nat, and a skin-fermented Chardonnay (also called an orange wine), Maenad Wine also celebrates women in the wine industry. Yvonne says ‘Maenads’ were female followers of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and Yvonne’s wines – completely unfiltered – reflect a certain lifestyle that resonates with her. You can check out more about the Maenad Wine Company and order all of its current wines through

Good luck to Yvonne and all of those involved in the 2021 harvest – we can’t wait to see what new bottles are created in the coming months!


Savvy Company wins HUGE award

Posted by Alexandra Kay

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

Ottawa Businesswoman Receives
National Wine Award

Ottawa businesswoman Debbie Trenholm has been a long-time champion of the Canadian wine community. For over sixteen years, she and her team of sommeliers at Savvy Company have worked to connect Canadian winemakers and Canadian wine consumers through social events and home deliveries.

In recognition of her unparalleled leadership, commitment and passion in supporting Canadian wines and winemakers, Debbie is this year’s recipient of the Wine Industry Champion Award presented by Wine Growers Canada, the national wine industry body that represents Canadian vintners.


“Debbie and her Savvy Team have been the ultimate ambassador for Canadian wines for almost two decades. From her popular wine club to hosting consumer events, she has introduced Canadian wines to Canadian consumers, and supported the rise and popularity of our growing wine sector,” says Dan Paszkowski, President and Chief Executive Officer of Wine Growers Canada“Debbie was not only nominated once for this award, she was nominated multiple times, which speaks volumes about her unstoppable efforts for the people who make Canadian wines and the people who enjoy them.”

Connecting Canadian wineries with Canadians

Everything Debbie & the Savvy Team creates brings Canadian wineries closer to consumers via direct sales opportunities. During the pandemic, Debbie and her team have been curating & delivering record numbers of ‘Savvy Care Packages’ of Canadian wine complemented with “Meet the Makers” virtual tastings & private events.

“The Karlo Estates team has been working with Debbie & her team at Savvy Company for several years now,” says Sherry Karlo, Vintner of Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County. “Debbie shines the spotlight on The County & its great wines, as well as wineries from other regions across Ontario. She’s been a great support to many of us struggling to stay connected to wine lovers during the pandemic. Debbie truly loves to support local and I can’t think of a better champion of Canada’s wine industry.”

Across the country, wineries in British Columbia are also applauding the news

“We were elated to learn that Debbie Trenholm is the recipient of the 2021 Wine Industry Champion Award,” says Kimberly Hundertmark, Hospitality Manager at TIME Family of Wines in Penticton, B.C. I have witnessed the evolution of this business model for over ten years and recognize the hard work and passion that have contributed to its growth. Debbie’s tireless efforts to promote Canadian wines has contributed to the success of our industry.  Savvy Company, under Debbie’s leadership, has introduced wines from across Canada to a new broad audience of wine enthusiasts and we thank her for that. Congratulations, Debbie!” 

Thrilled, honoured & delighted

Debbie is thrilled to receive the award, and is optimistic about what it will mean for Savvy Company’s continued efforts to champion the Canadian wine industry.

“This award has my name on it, yet I share it with the incredible group of sommeliers & professional marketers that I work with”, says Debbie. “It is an incredible privilege to have our work recognized by the wineries we proudly partner with, and we hope that this recognition will help us continue to grow so that we can promote even more outstanding Canadian wines to wine lovers.”

Located in Ottawa, Savvy Company offers of-the-month subscription clubs and also organizes Taste & Buy events to showcase the wines, craft ciders & artisan cheeses that are made across Canada.

Savvy Company also markets, manages & hosts the Kingston International Wine Festival, and most recently, the first Ontario Rosé Wine Festival online – all in an effort to connect wine-loving consumers with the dynamic people who create the products and give them a deeper appreciation of Canada’s wine industry. Across the country, wineries in British Columbia are also applauding the news.


Kudos & Rave Reviews…

“Congratulations Debbie! This award is so well deserved. Thank you for all of your support of our industry.” –  Christa-Lee McWatters
General Manager of Five Vines Cellars, Okanagan, British Columbia

“Congratulations Debbie!  Well deserved” – Leslie D’Angela, CEO of Noble Estates Winery, Okanagan, British Columbia

“Congratulations Debbie and team!!! Well deserved!!!” – Lorraine Mastersmith, Owner of KIN Vineyards, Carp, Ontario

“Hip Hip Horray!!! Gold Star Girlfriend! So proud – great job.” – Sue-Ann Staff, Owner & Winemaker of Sue-Ann Staff Estates Winery, Niagara, Ontario

“Debbie has been a great support to many of us struggling to stay connected to wine lovers during the pandemic. Debbie truly loves to support local and I can’t think of a better champion of Canada’s wine industry.” – Sherry Karlo, Vintner of Karlo Estates Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario

“We were elated to learn that Debbie Trenholm is the recipient of the 2021 Wine Industry Champion Award.” – Kimberly Hundertmark, Hospitality Manager at TIME Family of Wines in Penticton, British Columbia 

“Wine Growers Canada is proud to honour Debbie for her exceptional and ongoing promotion of wines from all regions of the country. Through hard work and leadership, Debbie’s dedication to Canadian wines of origin has supported the education of thousands of Canadians to become passionate advocates for the Canadian wine industry” – Dan Paszkowski, President & Chief Executive Officer of Wine Growers Canada



Savvy Care Packages Are Like Taking a Wine Tour at Home

Posted by Alexandra Kay

Monday, June 7th, 2021

Summer is wine tour season –

nothing beats a perfect summer day, rolling from vineyard to vineyard, tasting your way through each winemaker’s offerings, discovering new favourites and maybe getting a peek at where the behind-the-scenes magic happens. While the winemakers are all looking forward to welcoming everyone back when pandemic restrictions lift, they have been teaming up with our Savvy Sommeliers to get their favourite Ontario wines to you. These are the hard-to-get bottles not available at the LCBO – vintages that would often have been reserved for restaurants but are now available for home delivery.

While nothing can replace the experience of travelling through Ontario’s wine country,  our Savvy Care Packages have been curated to help you bring home a taste of each of Ontario’s wine regions this summer. Starting with a full ‘Surprise’ tour of Ontario, we’ll then bring you assortments featuring the EPIC wine region, Prince Edward County, and Niagara.

Ontario Wines Summer Line-up

  • JUNE – All things Rosé! We’ll be featuring Surprise Care Packages with bottles of Rosé as well as Care Packages with Whites & Red Wines for ‘The Full Tour’

  • JULY – Savvy Roadtrip to EPIC wine region 6-Pack (Essex Pelee Island Coast)

  • AUG – Savvy Roadtrip to The County 6-Pack (Prince Edward County that is) 

  • SEPT – Savvy Roadtrip to Niagara-on-the-Lake 6-Pack

  • OCT – Savvy Roadtrip to Niagara’s Bench 6-Pack

Each Roadtrip 6-Pack includes an exclusive pass to a virtual tasting to meet the featured wine & cider makers from each region.


Clink & Drink Pink!

Posted by Alexandra Kay

Monday, May 17th, 2021

By Debbie Trenholm, Savvy Company Founder & Sommelier

I love this time of the year. When wineries start getting excited about releasing their Rosé wine, it is always a sure sign that summer is around the corner! Made with the grapes harvested last fall, Rosé wine is a perfect drink to enjoy after a winter of heavy red wines. Rosés quench your thirst, they are low-ish in alcohol (usually 11-12%) and pair with many spring & summertime foods–especially brunch, lunch, picnic or backyard BBQ fare. Unlike other styles of wine, Rosés can be made with any kind of red grapes–a single variety or a blend of several. There are even a few made from a blend of red & white grapes! Wine makers have the liberty to use anything from the vineyard to craft a Rosé wine like an artist creating a masterpiece. Sometimes it can be hard to know whether you’ll love a Rosé when picking a bottle based on grape variety, price, pink colour or creative labelling. But half the fun with Rosés is discovering new favourites every year–and our Sommeliers are here to help with taste tips about the latest releases.

Sommelier Tips for Rosé :

  • Rule of thumb: drink by Christmas the year that you bought the wine.

  • Typically Rosé wines come in a clear bottle so you can enjoy the colour before opening the bottle…it will make you thirsty!

  • Chill in the fridge for 20-30 mins before serving….as the Rosé wine warms up, notice how the aromas & taste change.

  • Rosés are not all sweet–trust us! (Pink Zinfandel from California or those called ‘blush’are often sweeter)

  • Price points are usually $15–$30

  • Real men drink Rosé wines!

How is Rosé wine made?

It’s all in the skins! The majority of grapes used in winemaking have a white flesh, so when crushed, the juice is white. The skins of red grape varieties–such as Merlot, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Syrah, Cabernet Franc etc.–contain a red pigment. After the grapes have been crushed and the juice is collected, the winemaker keeps the grape skins sitting with the juice for a few hours–or a couple of days–in order to achieve the colour that they want for the wine. This is the same process for red wines, except that for reds, the grape skins are left in the juice much longer – typically for several weeks. Removing the grape skins earlier when making Rosé results in a lighter coloured–and lighter tasting–wine. Once the grape skins are removed, the juice is allowed to ferment into alcohol in a stainless steel tank. I have yet to come across a Rosé wine that has been barrel aged.

Making Rosé wine takes just a few months, whereas red wine can take a few years from harvest to bottling. Where to start? Our Sommeliers have got you covered! Our team of Savvy Sommeliers has done the ‘guess work’. We’ve been sampling the latest Rosé wines made across Ontario & each month during the summer, we will put together an assortment of the most refreshing Rosé wines for you. Beginning in May, we will curate 6 pack assortments of Rosé wines as part of our Savvy Care Package offerings. Several of these Rosés have just been released & you’ll be the first to enjoy them! These bottles are not available at the LCBO…they’ll come straight from the wine makers to you. You can order a one-off, or you can subscribe to auto-magically receive REALLY good Rosés delivered to your doorstep each month. And don’t forget to treat your Mom to a special Bouquet of Rosés for Mother’s Day too!


Pet-Nat Wine 101

Posted by Alexandra Kay

Monday, May 17th, 2021

By Shirley Roy, Savvy Sommelier

These fresh and vibrant bubbly wines are popping up at many of our favourite Ontario vineyards. Pet-Nat is short for ‘pétillant naturel’, the French name for natural sparkling wine. Like all natural wines, Pet-Nat is fermented with wild yeast in the air. It is bottled before fermentation is complete, which traps some of the carbon dioxide from fermentation in the bottle and creates bubbles. But because Pet-Nats are bottled before their fermentation is complete, it is hard to predict whether the final wine will have a delicate bubble – or be very volatile!

In the past, there have been some unfortunate cases of Pet-Nat bottles exploding. For this reason, you’ll often find today’s Pet-Nats sealed with screw caps or bottle caps instead of corks to prevent any unwanted accidents. Pet-Nat wines are definitely not wines to cellar. Enjoy these bright, bubbly wines within a year of their release. They are great to drink on their own or with lighter food, like salads or some great cheese. Being a natural wine, there will be a fair amount of sediment in the bottom of the bottle–best to pour gently & leave it there!


Orange Wine

Posted by Alexandra Kay

Monday, May 17th, 2021

By Shirley Roy, Savvy Sommelier

It’s incorrect to call Orange wine ‘the new kid on the block’, since this natural winemaking process dates back thousands of years. There are no oranges involved, either. It’s 100% grapes. Orange wine is named for the ‘orange’ colour it develops during the winemaking process and this style of wine seems to be popping up everywhere.

Orange wine is made from white grape varieties. In Ontario, it’s often Chardonnay or Vidal grapes that are used. Typically, when making a white wine, the grapes are crushed and the resulting juice is separated immediately from the grape skins. Not so when making Orange wine. The juice and the grape skins stay together for many days–sometimes months. And the longer the contact occurs, the darker the orange colour! Letting the grape juice and grape skins sit together is also the usual method used to make red wines, so a common explanation for Orange wines is ‘a white wine made in the same process as a red wine’. As is the case with all natural wines, Orange wine relies on wild yeast that’s in the air for fermentation, meaning the resulting flavours are less predictable. No additives are used in the winemaking process and it’s not filtered before bottling, so it’s often cloudy.

So what does Orange wine taste like? Think of these wines as ‘artisanal’. Many have a funkier taste due to the use of wild yeast. The grape skin contact often results in a bit of the drying tannins you find in red wines, so there can be a black tea-like characteristic. Many will have bright acidity that accentuates the fruit & floral notes and some will also have herbal notes in the aromas. Almost all Orange wines are dry wines, which often makes them a great wine to pair with lighter fare like a seafood or chicken salad–or one of my personal favourites, a smoked salmon brunch.


The Best WHEY to Discover Canadian Artisan Cheese!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Cheese is the ultimate comfort food and Canadian cheesemakers are making some of the best in the world!

From buttery, melt-in-your-mouth soft cheese to hard & crumbly aged cheddars (and everything in between), there are always new cheese-y creations–but not all of them make it onto the grocery or specialty cheese shops. Signing up for a subscription to our Savvy Cool Curds club means you’ll always have some of the REALLY good stuff in your fridge for yourself–or to gift to a fellow cheese lover. Subscribers receive a parcel of Savvy Cool Curds with 4 rounds or wedges (approx 200g each) directly from the featured cheesemaker of the month–each cheese will be different & will showcase the talents of the cheesemaker. Plus, each monthly parcel also includes a Canadian-made gourmet goodie to complement your cheese-honey, preserves, specialty crackers…all kinds of surprises. Choose a subscription that delivers new cheese to you every month or opt for the ‘every other month’ subscription.

Sign up for a Savvy Cool Curds club on our website at  !!


Ontario Craft Cider at its Finest

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Did you know Ontario growers produce over 15 different varieties of apples across the province?


A lot of that fruit goes towards making some award-winning craft ciders in a wide spectrum of interesting flavours. Savvy In-Cider Picks is the only monthly club curating delicious assortments of Ontario craft ciders and getting them into the hands (and fridges!) of cider fans.

Every month, we showcase one cidery with a surprise pack of their signature flavours in varying sizes of bottles & cans. This variety pack will introduce you to all new innovative tastes that craft cider makers create by infusing other fruits, spices & even hops.

We always make sure that the ciders we feature are not available at the LCBO or in grocery stores making being a subscriber the perfect way to discover new cideries across the province–especially when road trips aren’t happening very often these days. Order a subscription as a gift for the craft cider lover in your world, and we’ll guarantee that there’ll be lots of ‘cheers’ this winter.

All the Savvy In-Cider Picks Club details can be found on our website at

These will be the ‘apple of your eye’ for In-Cider Picks subscribers this winter…

February 2021–Farmgate Cider (Ottawa Valley)

March 2021 – Old Tun (Niagara)


A Gift Guaranteed to Make Them Smile

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Let’s face it. The last few months have been a strange & stressful time for everyone.

We’ve all had those moments when we needed an extra hand and were thankful for it. For those people who have been ‘essential’ in your world since day one of the pandemic, and of course, those friends & family members you haven’t been able to see for months, we’ve created a Truly Terrific Thank YOU Gift.

Just like the people you’re ordering the gift for, each Thank You package is one-of-a-kind. Each parcel includes all of the REALLY good stuff–a bottle of Ontario wine, a chunk of Canadian artisan cheese & a gourmet goodie plus 2 Savvy wine glasses. Of course, we’ll write a personalized thank you message in a card for you too. Guarantees to brighten anyone’s day& make them feel really appreciated when the gift arrives at their doorstep or office. All of this for just $47 (plus $3 delivery with a smile in Ottawa) We can deliver beyond Ottawa too.

Consider ordering one for your neighbor who loaned you a bag of milk, your kids’ teachers & coaches, your accountant who got your taxes done on time, your trusty mechanic, any healthcare worker you relied on… even the person who went above &beyond! This thoughtful parcel can also be sent to your employees as a way to keep team morale high while everyone is working from their spare bedroom. We all know that saying Thank You goes a long way. Count on us to make it easy to give a REALLY good gift to those who have helped you.