Posts Tagged ‘Niagara Wines’

Summer in the Vineyard

Posted by Alexandra Kay

Monday, June 7th, 2021

…A chat with veteran Ontario winemaker Derek Barnett

By Shirley Roy – Savvy Sommelier

Derek Barnett driving tractor at Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County. Photo Credit: Sherry Karlo

Over his 30 years of experience as a winemaker, Derek Barnett has spent a lot of time both inside a winery amongst the barrels and tanks as well as outside in acres of vineyards. As one of Ontario’s highly acclaimed winemakers, Derek is the winemaker for Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County and operates his own virtual winery, Meldville Wines in Niagara.

While working in the vineyard one day, I chatted with Derek to get a snapshot of some of the important things that happen  during the growing season. Here’s his inside scoop about what happens over the summer!

“The work actually starts before the snow has completely melted. We’ll do a lot of pruning of the vines in March & April to prepare for the upcoming growing season. It’s always wonderful to get back into the vineyard after the winter sleep…I see it as a new beginning and like to imagine what wonderful wines will be made from this vintage.

“Sometime in May, depending on how warm the Spring weather is, we will usually see the buds appearing on the vines – what we call ‘bud break’. Once the buds are out, the vineyard crew will start the work to thin out the buds if necessary, to ensure there’s no overcrowding on the vines and allow for proper airflow. Those new buds will flower within a couple weeks and usually the flowers last until mid-June, when the tiny baby grapes start to appear.

“We also spend a lot of time in the spring managing the emerging weeds, just like in flower and vegetable gardens. Weeds can take away important nutrients & moisture from the vines so there’s constant work to keep them under control.  

Working in a vineyard will definitely keep you in shape!

“By June, the vineyard crew walks up and down the rows again with cutters, this time to remove the small shoots or suckers that have grown on grapevine trunks in the spring. These shoots suck energy, water and nutrients away from developing fruit. This process, called ‘suckering’, is done by hand and requires constant bending down & getting up.

“By July, the grapes are growing and so are new leafy canes. Those canes need to be constantly tucked into the wire trellis to make the vines stand up rather than flop down and cover the fruit. The grape bunches need sunlight to grow. We always hope for a little rain, though, as the vast majority of Ontario vineyards do not have elaborate irrigation systems. Vines do benefit from dry conditions though, as it forces the roots to go deeper in search of moisture and minerals.

Excitement builds in late Summer as the grapes ripen. 

“In August, we do ongoing trimming, or ‘hedging’. We don’t want really tall vines, so at a certain point this month we cut them at the top and trim them, so the vine directs more energy into growing the fruit rather than growing leaves. The vineyard team does a lot of leaf pulling to expose the grape bunches, which allows for airflow through the vines and discourages fungus and mildew growing on the leaves and grapes. More & more vineyards are turning to organic & sustainable growing practices to control weeds & prevent rot on the grapes. 

“By mid to late August, red grape varieties go through véraison – the ripening process of grape bunches changing from green (looks like green peas) to red or purple in color. Véraison always signals that harvest is not far away – usually 45 to 48 days!

“In September, winemakers like myself start walking in the vineyard almost daily to check sugar and acid levels in the grapes. We need to keep an eye on the sugar and acid levels in the grapes as achieving a balance in those is important when making harvest decisions, but of course Mother Nature plays a role in everything, including the timing of the harvest.

“Harvest can start anywhere between the end of August to mid-September in Ontario and it continues until all of the grapes are collected. Depending on the weather, this could be anywhere between mid to late November.”

While many of us likely imagine a Summer in the vineyard experience to be sitting down among the vines while sipping on a glass of delicious wine, Derek and many, many others are working in the vineyard all season to ensure top notch grapes are growing so we can have top notch wines!

So the next time you’re able to visit one of the many beautiful vineyards in Canada’s wine regions, think of Derek and all the other hardworking winemakers & vineyard workers while you’re sipping on their great wine.  All of us on the Savvy Team raise a glass to them and look forward to discovering the latest bottles and sharing them with you in our wine club, online tasting events & Savvy Care Packages!  

A lot of fingerprints go into making a great bottle of wine.




Tawse Winery: Cabernet Merlot

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 27th, 2020

2013 Cabernet Merlot


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon, this was aged for 18 months in French oak. There are flavours of tobacco, cedar, dark fruit, and a long fruit-forward finish. This has been cellared to a perfect point – buy it now, drink it now!

Suggested Food Pairing: Tawse suggests to enjoy with a hearty meal, such as a Sunday roast, burgers, or lasagna.

If you would like to order this bottle of wine, call your friends at Savvy Company at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us at We’ll deliver with a smile!


Tawse Winery: Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 27th, 2020

2016 Limestone Ridge Sparkling Riesling


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The Limestone Ridge Vineyard is certified organic and biodynamic, and this sparkling wine is made in the traditional Champagne method. It tastes of ripe green apples, lemon, and wet stone with a fine mousse and long, dry, lemony finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Tawse suggests to enjoy with delicious seafood, such as oysters, shrimp, or lobster.

If you would like to order this bottle of wine, call your friends at Savvy Company at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us at We’ll deliver with a smile!


Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery: The Chestnut Tree Cabernet Franc

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 27th, 2020

2016 The Chestnut Tree Cabernet Franc


A tasting crew fave, there’s a fantastic story behind the name that involves the eponymous tree, a riding crop, and Jesse James! This Sue-Ann Staff wine won a Silver Medal from Decanter Magazine, which awarded it a stunning 92 points.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The wine has dark Christmas cake flavours, rich dark fruit, medium tannins and acidity, and loads of flavours. It’s a winner!

If you would like to order this bottle of wine, call your friends at Savvy Company at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us at We’ll deliver with a smile!


Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery: Lavelle’s Vidal

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 27th, 2020

2015 Lavelle’s Vidal


Named after Sue-Ann’s grandfather, this is 100% Vidal made during a long, cool ferment.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: It’s slightly sweet with flavours of pineapple and green apple. Lots of tartness, too – it’s mouth watering and delicious!

If you would like to order this bottle of wine, call your friends at Savvy Company at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us at We’ll deliver with a smile!


Redstone Winery: Redfoot Vineyard Viognier

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 27th, 2020

2017 Redfoot Vineyard Viognier


We don’t see enough Viognier in Ontario. It grows well here, with distinctive tropical fruit flavours that are refreshing and delicious.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Thank goodness Redstone is making this lovely Viognier, which showcases the passionfruit, pineapple, and sweet melon notes the grape is known for. There’s a hint of sweet spice, too, but don’t worry – this is a dry wine with medium acidity to balance the fruit.

If you would like to order this bottle of wine, call your friends at Savvy Company at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us at We’ll deliver with a smile!


Meldville Wines: Syrah

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 27th, 2020

2017 Syrah


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The fruit for this wine comes from two vineyards, one in Niagara-on-the-Lake and one in Beamsville. Aged in French oak, you’ll find a rich palate of dark cherries and blackberries.

Suggested Food Pairing: With a food-friendly acidity and long dark fruit finish, this is a wine to pair with the Sunday roast.

If you would like to order this bottle of wine, call your friends at Savvy Company at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us at We’ll deliver with a smile!


Legends Estates Winery: Malbec Reserve

Posted by Debbie

Friday, March 27th, 2020

2012 Malbec Reserve


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: You’ll love the blueberry and caramel flavours in this wine, along with dark cherries and smoke. No fear, though: it’s big and dry with loads of tannins to round out the flavours.

If you would like to order this bottle of wine, call your friends at Savvy Company at 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us at We’ll deliver with a smile!


Got your tickets? BC, Ont, Quebec & NS wineries are coming to town!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, June 15th, 2017

The countdown to Canada150 & Ottawa2017 celebrations is on!  We’re celebrating in a BIG way this year – by showcasing wines from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec & Nova Scotia at our upcoming event: Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White in Ottawa on Thursday, June 22 – next week!

100% Canadian wines.  You read that right…wines from British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec & Nova Scotia will be available for you to Taste & Buy….then have your favorites delivered to your doorstep.


Don’t miss it!  Celebrate Red & White 

Corks will be popping at this all-Canadian Taste & Buy as we celebrate winemakers who have worked incredibly hard to put our country on the world wine map. Meet these Canadian wine rockstars, taste their wines that are WOWing the world…then order your favs to enjoy at home.


It’s THE event you have been waiting for…

The #1 question we get asked: Can you buy from BC, NS & Quebec wineries as well those in Ontario?  YES you can!  Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White Taste & Buy event is all about ordering wines from BC, NS, Quebec and Ontario…then have them delivered directly to your home or office to enjoy all summer long.


Show your colours!  Buy a $80 ticket & bring a friend for FREE OR $150 for a foursome of Canadian wine lovin’ friends

Canadian cheese too!

What goes best with Canadian wines?  Canadian artisan cheese of course! Cheesemakers & our Cheese Sommelier will be serving samples of award-winning cheeses that you can buy onsite too.


Look who is coming:

From British Columbia…

Noble Ridge Vineyard & Winery
Sperling Vineyards

From Niagara…  

Legends Estates Winery
Reif Estate Winery
The Good Earth Food & Wine Co.
Two Sisters Vineyards
Westcott Vineyards
Vieni Estates 

From Prince Edward County…

Casa-Dea Estates Winery
Huff Estates
Karlo Estates
Keint-he Winery & Vineyards
Kinsip House of Fine Distillers
Trail Estate Winery

From other corners of Ontario & Ottawa…

Copper Tree Creative Studio
Mariposa Dairy
Pure Bread Bakery
Sprucewood Handmade Cookie Co.
St-Albert Cheese Co-op
The Merry Dairy
Top Shelf Preserves

From Quebec…

Ferme Guy Rivest
Fromagerie Montebello
Fromagerie Nouvelle-France
Fromagerie du Presbytere
Vignoble Carone Wines

From P.E.I…

COWS Creamery

From Nova Scotia…

Gaspereau Vineyards
Jost Wines


Wine Shopping Heaven! 

At this Taste & Buy event, EVERYTHING is 100% Canadian.

Create your own combo of Canadian wines to have delivered to your home after the event. You won’t find any of the featured wines at the LCBO – the wines will be delivered straight from the winery anywhere in Canada directly to you.  AND…there’s FREE shipping on 6 or more bottles of your top picks.

Bring a picnic basket & fill it up with artisan cheeses & gourmet treats too.


TIP: Be a V.I.T!

What’s a V.I.T? A Very Important Taster.  With 100+ wines, cheeses & goodies to try, purchase your tickets then upgrade each person for an additional $25 to get a V.I.T. Pass.   

You’ll enjoy red carpet treatment with advance access from 5 to 7pm to spend more time sipping & meeting the makers.  Stay as long as you like for the main event.

Buy your Ticket & V.I.T. Pass >>


Don’t miss this all-Canadian celebration! 

Buy your tickets >>   Event Deets

DATE: Thursday June 22 – next week!
VENUE: Horticulture Building @ Lansdowne Complex in Ottawa

V.I.T. Reception – 5 to 7pm ($25 upgrade pass per person is required)
Main Event – 7 to 9pm

ADVANCE TICKETS ONLY: $80 + bring a friend FREE  OR  Group of 4 people for $150
IDEA: Take the bus.  OC Transpo is FREE – simply show a printout of your ticket.


Wear Red & White…Win $50

Be a proud Canadian  – come to this Taste & Buy event dressed head to toe in red & white and we’ll automatically give you $50 off your ticket to our next Savvy Event.


Unable to make it, but want to order?

Don’t sweat it!  The Savvy Team will help you stock up on featured wines showcased at this event. Call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or email us & we’ll send you the complete list of wines & online order form.  You too can get FREE shipping – your order needs to be received by midnight on Sunday June 25.


WIN TICKETS!  Go on the Savvy Scavenger Hunt…

Find this video on our Facebook or Instagram pages, then…LIKE it & POST the name of your favorite Canadian wine.  On Monday, we’ll pick 2 lucky people to receive a pair of tickets & V.I.T. Passes to join us at Oh Canada! Celebrate Red & White.  It’s easy to win!  On your mark…Get Set…GO!!!


Psst…it’s Father’s Day weekend!

Yikes…totally forgot? Our #1 Father’s Day gift is a subscription to our Savvy Hip Hops beer-o-month club.

Click here to subscribe your Dad for 4 or 6 months & his fridge will auto-magically be filled with the best craft beers from a different Ontario brewery each month – bottles, growlers & cans not available at LCBO or The Beer Store.  100% guaranteed to make your Dad smile from beer to beer!


We’re hiring…

We have cool summer job opportunities for a high school or university students to work with the Savvy Team at Savvy HQ in Ottawa. We’re looking for creative & savvy students who are keen to learn about Canadian wine, artisan cheese, craft beer & cider.

Interested?  Contact us on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) or send your resume to


Happy Birthday Canada!
Debbie & the Savvy Team


Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)

Keep in touch with us…



100+ hard-to-find wines, craft beers, ciders & cheeses too!

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, November 3rd, 2016

This is THE hottest ticket in town…and you’re invited to join us & bring a friend for FREE. We’re hosting the always popular 5th annual Outstanding in their Fields Taste & Buy event where you will meet the makers of the finest wines, craft beers & ciders from across Ontario…and gourmet artisans too!


Sip & Stock up for the holidays

On your mark….get set…Power Shop! To prep you for this special Taste & Buy night, we’ll send you the list of featured products AND our Savvy Sommeliers & Cicerones will be at the event ready to share ‘must try’ tips.

There’ll be wines of all kinds – sparkling, white, red & even port, PLUS a variety of craft beers & ciders too. You won’t find any of the featured bevvies at the LCBO or grocery stores.

Special PROMO
Buy a $70 ticket + bring a friend FREE


Look who is coming from Niagara, The County & Ottawa region too!

Amazing Wines * Aure Winery * Chateau des Charmes * County Cider Company * Fielding Estates Winery * Legends Estates Winery * Karlo Estates * KIN Vineyards * Melville Winery * Trail Estates Winery * Tuque de Broue Brewery * Veini Estates * Vineland Estates Winery …and more will be announced!


FREE Shipping

This is an OUTSTANDING offer! At this event, order 6, 12 or more bottles of ANY of your favorites & we’ll deliver by courirer to your home or office – absolutely FREE.


Event Deets

DATE: Thursday December 1st
NEW VENUE! Horticulture Building @ Lansdowne, Ottawa
V.I.T. RECEPTION: 5 to 7pm – special passes required


Shop for cheeses too

Our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons will be shining the spotlight on hard-to-come-by cheeses from Ontario & Quebec that we’ve featured in our Savvy Cool Curds cheese-o-month-club. You can buy your new cheesey favorites to take home for the holidays.


Get the red carpet treatment….be a V.I.T.

Buy a Very Important Taster Pass (V.I.T.) for an additional $25 & enjoy advance access from 5 to 7pm…then stay on as long as you like for the main event. Limited to 150 passes.

This OUTSTANDING event always sells out quickly.
Buy your tickets >>


Hold on!!! There’s MORE…

For the Love of Cheese

Did you know it’s Cheese Month at the Canadian Agriculture & Food Museum? We are co-hosting these cheese-y activities every Tuesday evening – join us!
Nov 15: Wine & Cheese with a TWIST
Nov 22: Holiday Cheese Boutique
Nov 29: Fondue Fest & Racelette Rendez-Vous


Email us your favorite Canadian cheese & we’ll add your name to our draw for 2 tickets to any of these events. Need some help with pickin’ cheese? Check out our monthly Curd on the Street Magazine.

A FUNdraiser not to miss…

The Canadian Nurses Foundation called on us to create Sip & Savour FUNdraising event to help raise $1 million in one year to develop educational & special health care programs that will increase the number of nurses in Indigenous communities.

Join us on November 16 at The Westin Ottawa where Executive Chef Kenton Leier will be pulling out all of the stops to prepare an incredible menu paired with fine Ontario wines. It will be a delicious night with chefs & winemakers. Only 150 tickets….and selling quickly!

Don’t miss this event. Click to get your tickets >>


See you at all of these OUTSTANDING events…
– Debbie & the Savvy Team

Savvy Company
613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)

Keep in touch with us…