Posts Tagged ‘Nyarai Cellars’

Nyarai Cellars: Veritas

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

2012 Veritas

Annan, ON

Winemaker Steve Byfield says he makes the Veritas (taken from the famous saying, “In vino veritas”, or “In wine, truth”) only in optimal years. This is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Malbec.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: The medium cherry colour belies the power of this big red. It’s full of tart cherry, mint, and tobacco, with mouth-puckering tannins and acidity. There’s a lot of fruit here, with the sour cherry dominant.

Suggested Food Pairing: Steve recommends this with lamb shanks, beef stew, or a well-aged cheese.

Cellaring: This will do well to cellar 5-8 years if you can keep from drinking it right away!

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!


Nyarai Cellars: Viognier

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, April 1st, 2020

2015 Viognier

Annan, ON

 “Nyarai” comes from a Southern African “Shona” word meaning humility. But there’s nothing humble in these exquisite wines created by winemaker Steve Byfield. He said he made this Niagara-on-the-Lake Viognier because there isn’t a lot of that grape produced in the region.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This is a wonderful expression of Viognier, matching the classic flavours perfectly: tropical fruit – and especially pineapple – minerals, and a steely undertone with medium acidity. It’s flavourful and satisfying.

Suggested Food Pairing: Steve says to pair this with classic roast chicken, and we think that will work well.

Cellaring: Drink now.

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!


Nyarai Cellars – virtual winery in Ontario

Posted by Debbie

Friday, July 25th, 2014


 Savvy Selections Ontario wine of the month club

Savvy Selections wine of the month club 
Featuring Nyarai Cellars

– July 2014 –

In Vino Veritas, in wine there is truth… and truthfully Nyarai wines are to be experienced. Overlooking the Georgian Bay, lounging in an Adirondack chair that is bright red cherry colour reminiscent of Pinot Noir wines, while sipping on a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier or Veritas from Nyarai Cellars is just about as perfect as it gets! And our Savvy Sommelier Cathy Law did exactly this.

What is a virtual winery?

Steve ByfieldWhile the setting is absolutely glorious, you will not find any of Nyarai vineyards here. Not even a building with a sign stating Nyarai CellarsSteve Byfield (left) is the owner and winemaker of a virtual winery.  Never heard of that? It is essentially a winery within a winery.

In this case, Nyarai resides within the scenic Coffin Ridge Winery near Meaford, Ontario in the Georgian Bay area. In a co-operative manner, Steve uses the facilities at Coffin Ridge to produce his delectable wines. He is a part of a growing industry of winemakers ‘without walls’ who source their grapes from hand selected grape growers to ensure that Nyarai wines are made from the finest quality grapes available. Rather than draining the financial resources to erect beautiful buildings and tasting rooms, winemakers of virtual wineries lease, share or use the equipment and facilities of an already existing winery. No doubt this keeps their overhead low and creativity high.

Our Savvy Sommelier Cathy Law spent a lovely afternoon interviewing Steve who lives in Hamilton and makes a bi-weekly visit to Coffin Ridge to check on his wines.  Steve surprised Cathy with a story about his musical background then serenaded her with Gleeful tales of his winemaking journey. Since his debut with Savvy Selections in 2008, Steve has delighted Ontario wine enthusiasts with a symphony of notable wines.  You will see exactly what I mean when you open one of the bottles in this month’s Savvy Selections.

In your Savvy Selections you will find:

Sauvignon Blanc 20012 $19.95 – the flagship wine  that was awarded Bronze Medal at the National wine Awards of Canada.
Viognier 2012 $21.95 – a hard to find grape variety in Ontario & we were so excited to introduce you to this elegant wine.
Veritas Reserve 2010 $26.95 – a highly sought after wine that we made sure that there was enough to include in the Savvy Selections.  Now it is almost all gone!

Cheers & enjoy your Nyarai wines!
Debbie & the Savvy Team


Nyarai Cellars

Presented by Cathy Law


Nyarai (Nah-Rye) is a word from a South African dialect that means humility. This aptly named winery epitomizes Steve in every sense of the word.  From my visit with him, I think that he exudes humility in all aspects of his winemaking journey.

Steve explained to me that he chose the name in consultation with his business partner Rod Ingram as it is an expression that encompasses all that he believes in. I can see it in Steve’s eyes that he is humbled by the land and how we should respect what we have by letting nature take its course.  As an aside, Steve mentioned that Nyarai is often a name often given to first born girl in the African American community.

And all that jazz…

Steve’s passion for wine began with a part time summer job while he was studying music. He first worked at one of the “make your own” wine shops.  It was there where he developed an interest in the process and the chemistry of winemaking. Completing his degree in music performanc, all the while beginning a teaching position as well as entertaining people with his jazz band did not diminish his desire to be part of the wine industry.  Steve began a natural progression from entertaining people with music to tantalizing their palates with his burgeoning vintners ability.

In the fall of 2000, Steve joined Southbrook Vineyards (in their original location near Richmond Hill) as a consultant where he began his winemaking career. In 2006, he moved on to the Beamsville Bench region where he has since worked as Assistant Winemaker at Ridgepoint Wines, Calamus Estates Winery and as Winemaker at Thomas and Vaughn Estates Winery (now Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery.  In 2008, through a chain of circumstance and chance meetings with the owners of Coffin Ridge Winery, Nayarai Cellars became a reality. 

Creating a co-operative community

steve-hands_208x198Steve is all about sourcing his grapes from conscientious growers who show respect for the vine and the land. The grapes are sourced from Redfoot Vineyards Beamsville and Watson Vineyards Niagara-on-the-Lake.  Steve explains, “Everything happens in the vineyard. We simply extend the process in the cellar. The goal of Nyarai is to convey a sense of place.”

Steve believes in a minimal intervention from “bud to burst”.  “Ninty percent of the winemaking journey takes place in the vineyard.  From grape, to bottle, to your table, I want you to enjoy what the terroir -land, water, sunshine, region – has to offer.  I strive to create a sense of place”, offers Steve.

Virtual vs. Reality

Steve’s virtual winery allows for an ever expanding exploration in creativity with regards to wine making techniques and varietals. He is striving to continue to grow his wine business in a sustainable way, cautiously without diluting the quality of his product. In the upcoming months, Steve will release Cadence VQA 2011 a delectable red blend. Cadence, a word showing the lineage to music indicates the tempo of song, everything coming together to act as one. Steve tips his musical hat by blending of 42% Cabernet Franc, 33% Merlot, 22% Cabernet Sauvignon and 5% Syrah grapes (different proportions than Veritas).  “It is a bright and full bodied wine.” comments Steve.  Hint: As with all Nyarai wines, this will be a small lot wine (aka limited stock). If you would like some of this wine, simply call the Savvy Team on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) to arrange a shipment for you. 

“My passions are music and wine”

One of the most exciting moments in Steve’s winemaking venture was finding out that he was congratulated on his product in the Wall Street Journal. As you would expect, Steve said with a smile, “Now, that was really cool”. 

Here’s to Steve & his wonderful wines!




sauv blanc2012 Sauvignon Blanc VQA $19.95

This wine is the essence and flagship wine of Nyarai Cellars. Sauvignon Blanc is Steve’s favorite grape to make into wine.  “Sauvignon Blanc is my passion.”

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Beautiful aromas,  good acidity with some mineral on the palate. This is a refreshing wine for summertime sipping.  With its long citrus finish, it is a well-balanced and extremely well made wine.

Food Pairing Suggestions:Classic pairings with Sauvignon Blanc include asparagus,  fresh-from-the-garden peasand white fish.  Cathy offers a recipe of Grilled Lemon and Rosemary Chicken  that would do the trick!

Cellaring: This wine is best served young …so open it up now to enjoy the crisp & refreshing tastes.


viognier2012 Viognier VQA $21.95

I have a love affair with Viognier, based on what Mother Nature has given us this year should be something special.   This hard-to-find grape variety (in Ontario vineyards) was originally grown in France & is becoming increasingly popular around the world.  Few Viogniers are made in Ontario…and when the Savvy Team finds them, they are shared & are usually met with a big smile.  Once you like Viognier, you will be on the lookout for more – guaranteed.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Made with an interesting & artistic blend of Viognier grapes that 62% were fermented in stainless steel tanks while the remaining 38% was fermented in oak barrels.

The result we all agreed is a well balanced and elegant white wine. Orange peel, lemon and apricot aromas come to mind that continues through into the taste. “this is a humdinger” said our Savvy Selections tasting panel with a smile.

Food Pairing Suggestions: A versatile white wine is delicious on its own, with shellfish, chicken or with the summer classic of Cedar Planked Salmon with a ginger and fruit jam glaze – recipe follows.


veritas2010 Veritas Reserve VQA $26.95

“I love the anticipation and expectation just prior to the harvest, walking through the vines, looking at the grapes”, says Steve with a smile.

This one-of-a-kind blend is made with 40% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon and 20% Syrah grapes.  This wine showcases the amazing 2010 growing season that Mother Nature provided. “Oh WOW!” was said by everyone in the Savvy Selections Tasting Panel.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: A full bodied red that is loaded with red and black fruit.  A velvet & plush texture (aka tannins) with every sip. “Fire up the BBQ for this wine” suggested Amanda during the tasting.

Food Pairing Suggestions: “Anything with dark chocolate would be perfect” commented Debbie.  Sunday Roast Beef dinner with all the trimmings, game meats, BBQed ribs or a thick rib eyed steak. Cathy offers the recipe of Mushrooms Stuffed with Parmesan Cheese and Almonds that would be a hit with this wine.

Cellaring: Ready to be enjoyed now or can be cellared for upwards to 5 years…but when it is this good, why wait?





With Nyarai Sauvignon Blanc….

Grilled Lemon and Rosemary Chicken

From the Canadian Living Light and Healthy Cookbook
Makes 4 servings


2 cups buttermilk (500 ml)or low fat yogurt
¼ cup lemon juice (50ml)
4 chicken quarters
2 ½ pounds-1.25 kg total
Fresh rosemary sprigs
Lemon slices


In a heavy plastic bag, combine buttermilk and lemon juice; add chicken and a few rosemary sprigs. Close bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Refrigerate for at least 2 or up to 8 hours, turning the bag occasionally.

Remove chicken from the buttermilk mixture, scraping off excess. Place on greased grill over medium-high setting; cover and cook for 15 minutes.

Turn the chicken over; top each piece with 2 or 3 lemon slices and rosemary sprigs. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes longer or until juices run clear when chicken is pierced. Serve garnished with more lemon and rosemary.


With Nyarai Viognier ….

Cedar Planked Salmon à la Cathy

From Savvy Sommelier Cathy Law’s Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6 (depending on size of filet)


1 fresh fillet of salmon
2 tbsp. fresh ginger chopped
Enough ginger infused peach or apricot jam to spread evenly over the salmon
Cracked pepper and salt fish to taste


Submerge your cedar plank in water with a little of the Nyarai Viognier (if you dare! Alternatively, use another white wine). Let the plank soak for about 2 hours. The longer the plank soaks the better as there will be less burning of the wood.

Heat your BBQ or Smoker to medium high.

Place the salmon on the plank skin side down. Set the plank on the pre heated grill and close the lid.

Grill salmon for 10 to 20 minutes until it starts to flake easily. Carefully remove the plank from the grill.

Serve with your choice of accompaniments and a luscious glass of Nyarai Viognier.


With Nyarai Veritas Reserve …

Mushrooms Stuffed with Parmesan Cheese and Almonds

The Wine and Food Lovers Diet Cookbook by Dr. Phillip Tirman, M.D


1/3 cup almonds finely chopped
1 ½ teaspoon olive oil plus more for brushing
¼ cup chopped yellow onions
1 egg
½ cup freshly grated parmesan Cheese
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
8 large button or cremini mushrooms (about ½ pound total ), stems removed


Preheat oven to 350F

Lightly oil a baking sheet. In a small dry skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds, stirring constantly, until they just begin to turn light brown, about 3 minutes. Immediately pour them into a small bowl to allow to cool.

Chop the almonds finely and set aside.

In a skillet over medium high heat, warm the oil until it simmers. Add the onion and cook, stirring constantly, until softened and slightly brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl. Stir in the almonds, eggs, Parmesan, mustard, and nutmeg until well combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Brush the mushroom caps all over with oil. Spoon the cheese mixture into the caps, dividing evenly. Arrange the stuffed mushrooms stuffed side up, on the prepared sheet. Bake until the filling is lightly browned and the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.

Enjoy these mushroom delights with a brilliant glass on Nyarai Cellars Veritas.


Have some Veritas in your glass left to enjoy with chocolate?

Good dark chocolate (from Belgium especially) is a perfect pairing with this fruit driven red blend. Also, play with this pairing with a chocolate infused with chilli or a cherry truffle filling  – a unique pairing experience!


Enjoy your Savvy Selections!



A Virtual Winery of Real Excellence: Nyarai Cellars & Calamus Estate Winery

Posted by Derek

Monday, July 11th, 2011


If you ask Nyarai Cellars owner & winemaker Steve Byfield where his winery is located, he might tell you “Nowhere”. This might appear to be an odd response, especially when much of the wine world is focused on the concept of terroir, which is about creating wine that illustrates a place. In fact, terroir is often described as “somewhereness”. Steve’s winery indeed has a location – it is found within the walls Calamus Estate Winery in Niagara. On our winery visits, we are discovering more “virtual wineries” like Steve’s. The word “virtual” might conjure ideas of only existing in cyberspace, but that’s not the case at all. In fact, at a virtual winery, the winemaker independently grows or purchases grapes, while using the facility & equipment at an existing winery. This alleviates the large startup investment of purchasing property, vineyard & winery. The result of Nyarai Cellars is impressive wines, as you will discover in this month’s Savvy Selections.

To give you a better taste of the partnership between a virtual winery & host winery, you will find wines from Nyarai along with wines from Calamus Estate Winery. The wineries’ common thread is Steve Byfield, owner & winemaker of Nyarai Cellars while he is also the Assistant Winemaker at Calamus. This is the first time Savvy Selections is featuring two wineries side by side! You will experience the wines from Calamus where Steve has honed his talents alongside the equally accomplished winemaker, Arthur Harder, as well as the progression of Steve’s career to his own Nyarai Cellars.

For this month’s Savvy eZine, Savvy Sommelier Derek Vollrath talked with Steve to learn how Nyarai has changed since they were last featured in Savvy Selections in July 2009 – their first month in business!

To select the wines for this month, Derek, along with 4 other Savvy Sommeliers: Julie, Doug, Velma and Erin, sampled the finest wines from Calamus Estate Winery and Nyarai Cellars.This tasting panel is pleased to present the following wines:

·Nyarai Cellars Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2010 – Steve has a growing reputation for fine Sauvignon Blancs

·Nyarai Cellars Viognier VQA 2010 – a medal winner in this year’s Ontario Wine Awards

·Calamus Estate Winery Meritage VQA 2007 – a Bordeaux blend from a remarkable vintage

You won’t find these wines at the LCBO…

With Savvy Selections, we feature wines that are not available at the LCBO. When you discover a favorite wine that you would like additional bottles of, (our tasting panel bets that you will be WOWED by Nyarai’s 2010 Viognier & will want more!), simply call or e-mail me to make arrangements and wines will be shipped to any location within Ontario – home, office or even your cottage.

Wine Tour Anyone?

As you know from the Savvy Selections wine deliveries each month, there are numerous wineries to visit. If you are looking to enjoy a weekend get away at one of Ontario’s wine regions then give us a call. Our Team of Sommeliers can help you plan a wine tour; make recommendations on wineries to visit or even accompany you on your tour. And before you go, be sure to read my blog Summer Roadtrips – Savvy tips for winery visits.

And the Savvy Team are traveling too this summer.Check our website as we might be involved in a event near you or are hosting an event for wine, artisan cheese & craft beer lovers – and we would like to meet you!

Cheers & Enjoy the summer!

Debbie & Savvy Team

Presented by Sommelier Derek Vollrath

A virtual winery is one without the “sticks & bricks”: instead of purchasing land and developing a modern winemaking facility, virtual wineries lease space and capacity from existing wineries. By doing so the proprietor, who is typically the winemaker too, is able to avoid the large upfront investments in land, building and equipment required to open a winery. Virtual wineries are a relatively new breed in Canada, but their numbers are growing at home and abroad.

Steve Byfield (left) is a trail-blazer in the Ontario wine industry. He is one of the original winemakers to establish his own virtual winery. In fact, Savvy Selections launched Nyarai Cellars in 2009 & our subscribers were Steve’s first customers!

I was curious to know how things at the winery were progressing since the beginning. “So far…so great! Not only have I been able to increase production, but I also expanded my portfolio to include other grape varietals,” Steve reports. “Aromatic whites are the foundation of the Nyarai label. These elegant wines can be released to the market relatively quicker than reds and therefore these refreshing wines can be enjoyed earlier.” (Steve is a modest type, Nyarai’s reds are outstanding too.)

During our conversation, Steve also mentioned that wine lovers as well as the industry have been extremely supportive of his winery. Most notably the incredible support from Calamus Estate Winery. Steve has been Assistant Winemaker at Calamus since 2006. Familiar with the space, Derek Saunders, co-owner of Calamus leases the cellar & winemaking equipment to Steve in order to produce Nyarai wines.

The Nyarai Philosophy
A virtual winery does not necessarily have a vineyard. Steve explains that he sources his grapes from the best growers in the Niagara region. The result is wines that are a bit of a melting pot with characteristics from many locations throughout the Niagara Region.

A Favourite Grape Variety
Sauvignon Blanc is Steve’s favourite grape variety to work with because “the grape has a lot of valuable attributes and you should be able to get consistent flavour profiles year over year.”

Sauvignon Blanc is conducive to Ontario’s manic climate of cold winters and erratic hot & thunderstorm prone summers. Steve explains that the consistency of the grape allows him to demonstrate his talent as a winemaker year after year. As he describes, Nyarai’s Sauvignon Blanc is somewhere between the herbaceous “in-your-face” New Zealand style and the more subtle elegant French style from Sancerre. We are delighted to give you the opportunity to enjoy one of Steve’s signature Sauvignon Blanc wines.

An Ever Expanding Portfolio
One of Steve’s goals when he established Nyarai was to create a core portfolio of wines. Well, since Nyarai was last profiled by Savvy Selections, his portfolio has expanded from three wines to six. His Viognier has made quite an impression along with his Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Bordeaux based red blends.

The latest vintage of Viognier VQA 2010 that is included in your Savvy Selections – won the gold medal at the 2011 Ontario Wine Awards under the Dry White Varietal category.

This Viognier was a hands down favorite of the Savvy Selections tasting panel too. Remember that this wine is not available at the LCBO, so you may want to consider stocking up on this impressive wine, especially for summer entertaining. Nyarai’s red wine fans are patiently waiting for the 2010 reds to be released. A Syrah as well as a Bordeaux blend are still in barrel…we are anxiously awaiting until 2012 get our hands on those.

A Winning Streak
While the Viognier took home a gold medal at the 2011 Ontario Wine Awards, at the 2011 Cuvee Wine Awards – considered the Oscars of the Ontario Wine Industry –
Nyarai Cellars brought home the Best Red Assemblage award for its Veritas VQA 2007 – a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah.

Congratulations to Steve on these awards & keep up the great wine work at both Nyarai and Calamus.

Cheers & Enjoy your Savvy Selections!


Nyarai Cellars Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2010, $19.75

This is not your typical Sauvignon Blanc. Steve mixed things up by adding 8% of Sauvignon Blanc that has been barrel ferment (winespeak: wine that has spent time in barrels to pick up creamier characteristics).Aging Sauvignon Blanc in barrel is a technique first created by Robert Mondavi in California known as Fumé Blanc. The result is a creamer mouth feel & tones down the zippy acidity which is characteristic of Sauvignon Blanc. What do you think?

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Pale straw in colour with aromas of citrus, gooseberry and melon which carry on through to the palate. The wine is dry with lower than expected acidity due to the addition of some barrel fermented wine that provides for a richer, fuller mouth feel. The finish is medium in length with lingering citrus and melon notes.

Suggested Food Pairing: A great summer sipper that would pair wonderfully with ceviche or bacon wrapped grilled scallops. The Savvy Selections tasting panel recommends a Sun-dried tomato & dill cheese cake – a simple & tasty appetizer (recipe follows).

Cellaring: This is a don’t-wait-now kind of wine, so open it up, sit back and enjoy this Ontario treasure.

Nyarai Cellars Viognier VQA 2010, $20.75

Viognier has its roots (pardon the pun!) in the Rhone Valley region of France. The varietal is making a move into the Niagara Region; however the grape is challenging to grow because it is particularly prone to many vineyard diseases. As a result, few Viognier wines are produced in the Niagara area.When you find one that you like – be sure to stock up!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:A bright pale straw colour with a subtle & enticing pink hue. The pink colour is due to the fact that half of the grapes that went into this wine were kept on the skins for 12 hours prior to pressing. The aroma is clean with youthful aromas of peach, white flowers & apricots. This dry, medium bodied wine is loaded with well-defined fruit such as peaches, apricot & lime. The alcohol is warming and the body can be considered supple & creamy.

Suggested Food Pairing: Another summer sipper or it could be paired nicely with BBQ grilled planked salmon or pasta with a gorgonzola cream sauce. We are recommending that you enjoy this wine with grilled honey-basil chicken.

Cellaring:This wine could be cellared for 6 to 12 months Chill and enjoy over the summer.

Calamus Estate Meritage VQA 2007 $27.20

A Savvy Sommelier insider tip: if you ever come across an Ontario wine from 2007, BUY IT! As we have reported in other Savvy eZines, 2007 was an excellent vintage for Ontario. The 2007 Meritage by Calamus is an example of how fruit from an exceptional vintage can be crafted by a skilled winemaker into an outstanding wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:Delicious” pretty much sums up the Savvy Selections tasting panel’s impressions of this wine. Deep ruby red in colour with intense aromas of blackberry, fruit cake, clove & chocolate. This is a well structured wine with generous amounts of ripe berry fruit that cling to your palate, balanced acidity and soft-tannins. It is not surprising that this was a Bronze Medal winner at the 2010 Canadian Wine Awards. Congrats Calamus!

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine would pair nicely with roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and seasonal root vegetables. Our Savvy Sommeliers recommend braised lamb shanks in a tomato red wine sauce – recipe to follow.


With Nyarai Cellars Sauvignon Blanc

Sun-Dried Tomato and Dill Cheesecake
From 175 Essential Slow Cooker Classics, Judith Finlayson

Serves 6


1 cup (250 mL) cracker crumbs, such as wheat thins

2 tbsp melted butter

1 package cream cheese, softened

2 eggs

½ cup coarsely copped dill

¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil, drained

2 tbsp finely chopped green onion or chives

¾ cup shredded Emmenthal or Swiss cheese

Method – Crust

1.In a bowl, combine cracker crumbs and melted butter.Press mixture into the bottom of prepared dish.Place in freezer until ready to use.

Method – Cheesecake

1.In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, combine cream cheese and eggs. Process until smooth.Add dill, sun-dried tomatoes and green onion. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Pulse until blended (do not over mix). Add cheese and pulse just until blended. Pour mixture over crust. Cover dish tightly with foil and secure with a string (if using a springform pan, see TIP, below)Place dish in slow cooker stoneware and pour in enough boiling water to come 1 inch (2.5cm) up the sides.

2.Cover and cook on High for 3 hours, or until edges are set and the centre is slightly jiggly. Remove from slow cooker and chill thoroughly, preferably overnight.

CHEF’S TIP: If using a springform pan, ensure that water does not seep into the cheesecake by wrapping the bottom of the pan in one large seamless piece of foil that extends up the sides and over the top. Cover the top with a single piece of foil that extends down the sides and secure with a string.

With Nyarai Cellars Viognier…

Grilled Honey-Basil Chicken

From Great Recipes of the Great Cooks, Arlene Feltman Sailhac

Serves 6


1½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, split and pounded to an even thickness
¼ cup raspberry vinegar
¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
¼ cup + 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup honey
¼ cup + 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp freshly grounded black pepper


1.Place the chicken in a shallow glass dish.In a small mixing bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce, mustard, honey, basil, thyme and pepper.Whisk well and pour over the chicken.Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours, turning occasionally.

2.Preheat gas grill and spray the grill with nonstick vegetable spray.

3.When grill is hot, lift the chicken from the marinade and grill for about 4 minutes on each side, or until just cooed through.Do not overcook.

4.Transfer the marinade to a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil for about 5 minutes, or until reduced by half.

5.Pour the reduced marinade over the chicken and serve with seasonable vegetables.

With Calamus Estate Winery Meritage…

Braised Lamb Shanks

Serves 4


2 large white onions, chopped
4 lamb shanks
2 cups dry red wine
1 cup balsamic vinegar
⅓ cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, pressed

2 lemons, quartered
2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper


1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2.Place the onions in a layer in the bottom of a Dutch oven or medium roasting pan with a lid. Arrange the lamb shanks on top of the onions. Pour the wine, balsamic vinegar and olive oil over the lamb. Place a clove of pressed garlic next to each shank, and a quarter of a lemon on each side. Pour the tomatoes over everything, and then season with salt, pepper and basil.

3.Cover and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 3 hours. Use juices from the pan to make a nice flavorful gravy.

4.Serve with mushroom risotto and grilled zucchini.

Cheers & Enjoy this month’s Savvy Selections!


Winemaking talent shows through in Nyarai wines

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Featuring Nyarai Cellars
Canada’s wineries delivered to your doorstep

Is it me or are there more younger winemakers arriving on the Canadian wine scene? In the past couple of months, I have attended wine industry conferences – Society of Wine Educators in Sacramento, California and Vancouver Playhouse International Wine Festival – where talented winemakers from every corner of the world were celebrated. It was interesting to see that a large number of these winemakers were under the age of 40!


With aspirations of one day owning their own winery, some new-to-the-industry winemakers have been provided the unique opportunity to create a virtual winery with their own label while working in the cellars of their employer’s winery. In Ontario, there are currently five winemakers who are crafting their ‘own label’ in this virtual winery setting.  In this month’s Savvy Selections, we are proud to introduce you to Steve Byfield and his new wines – labeled Nyarai Cellars – that he crafts in the cellars of Calamus Estates Winery in Niagara (featured in Savvy Selections in June 208).


Steve launched Nyarai Cellars just last month in time to be featured in the Savvy Selections.  This is an opportunity for you to sample Steve’s talent as you open the bottles of:

– Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2008 – Steve’s favorite white grape to work with

– Cabernet-Merlot VQA 2007– an easy drinking red wine to have on hand with BBQ fare

– Syrah VQA 2007 – an outstanding red wine that is turning heads


In this Savvy e-Zine, read more about how Steve’s involvement at a brew your own place was the stepping stone for a winemaking career.  In nine short years, Steve’s career includes making wine at five different Niagara wineries. As always, below you will find our Savvy Sommelier tasting notes and recipes chosen to pair with the selected Nyarai wines.


These wines are hard to come by!

You will definitely not see Nyarai wines at the LCBO. When you would like more of the wines or other wines from previously featured Savvy Selections, simply call me to (613-728-8926) make the arrangements for a delivery. The wine can be sent to any Ontario address: to your home, office – even your cottage!


Be forewarned….there are VERY few cases of Nyarai wines available.  Steve is predicting that the Sauvignon Blanc (he only made 126 cases) & Syrah will be sold out by September so don’t wait too long to contact me if you would like to re-order extra bottles.  When the reviews for these new wines get published, the wines could sell out quickly.


Here’s to the launch of Nyarai Cellars! 

Debbie & the Savvy Team

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Nyarai Cellars
Presented by Sommelier Debbie Trenholm

The word Nyarai (pronounced Na-rye) literally jumped off the page when Steve was searching for a name to for his own wine. “Typically a winemaker will use his name on the label, but that is not my style”, explains winemaker Steve Byfield. “I was looking for a name that was more subtle, yet, still had a personal connection.”


Born and raised in St Catherine’s, Steve became interested in wine while working at a ‘Brew Your Own’ store.  Here, he had a hand in both beer & wine making on a small scale. 


Trained as a jazz musician & music educator, Steve decided to put both on the back burner to devote his time to develop his skills as an amateur winemaker.


He launched into a wine career during the whirlwind activity of the harvest of 2000.  Hired on as product consultant at Southbrook Vineyards (featured in Savvy Selections May 2008), during the five years at this winery, he was exposed to all aspects of commercial winemaking as he apprenticed as a winemaker. “There is nothing like jumping in with both feet.” remembers Steve about his first day on the job. “I realized that my chemistry was a bit rusty, so after work, I enrolled in courses to brush up.”


While at Southbrook, Steve was involved in the development of all wines. Southbrook’s famous Frambroise wine – made with raspberries – was one of the products that Steve had a hand in crafting each year.


In 2006, two small boutique wineries opened on the Beamsville Bench (aka Niagara Escarpment). Steve jumped at the opportunity to be assistant winemaker at both Ridgepoint Winery and Calamus Estates Winery.  The two wineries shared the equipment and services of a consulting winemaker and Steve as the assistant winemaker. Talk about expedited learning!  “I prefer hands on learning.  Everyday I walked through the vineyards checking the progress of the vines & grapes.  The best part was that I was always learning because I had two different wineries to oversee,” recalls Steve.


Talented and in hot demand, Steve helped the owners at Thomas and Vaughn Winery (also located in Beamsville) during the 2007 harvest. This harvest has been considered by many as the best harvest of the century.  Again, Steve talent showed through in the wines that he crafted.


Throughout all of this time, Steve, like many young winemakers had the pipedream of owning his own winery.  “I think that it is natural that we all think about it at some stage.” The running joke in the wine industry is that to make a million of profit, you need to start with 10 million dollars. Start up costs & large capital expenditures is the common obstacle for new winemakers. “When the owners at Calamus provided me the ability to create my own wine at their facility using their equipment – this was a dream come true. Having my own label allows me to develop my own expression & allows me to experiment to fine tune my winemaking skills.”


Steve & other virtual wineries source premium fruit from local grape growers or their own vineyards.  They make the wine in the cellars using the technology & equipment available to them in their host winery. Now that you know that this style of winery exists, keep these young winemakers on your radar as their labels are making an impression in the Ontario wine industry: Charles Baker at Stratus Vineyard, Kevin Panagapka at Featherstone Estate Vineyard (featured in Savvy Selections in January 2008) & Wes Lawry at Five Roads Winery all located in Niagara.  Frederic Picard at Huff Estates (featured in June 2007) is located in Prince Edward County.


The story of Nyarai

No doubt that Steve will be constantly telling the story & correcting our pronunciation of the unusual word Nyarai.  “I wanted a name that honoured history & celebrated my African-Canadian roots”, explained Steve.  Nyarai means to be humble or humility in the language of the Shona tribe – native people of Botswana & Zimbawe. “The name is fitting as I think it is a humbling process & experience to take fruit from the land to make wine”, states Steve.  Throughout his research, Steve found that Nyarai is often used as a girl’s name.  Have you met a woman named Nyarai?  Steve hasn’t – yet!


Does Steve ever stop?

With two winemaking jobs on the go, does Steve ever take time to unwind? “I will sometimes pick up my sticks & play the drums or sit down to the piano”, states Steve.  “By far though, my favorite way to relax is in the kitchen cooking for family and friends. Being a winemaker, I have the opportunity to meet and work with many great chefs to pair my wine with their specialties.  I am always trying new recipes or creating my own.” Steve shares one of his recipes with you below. 


Cheers & Enjoy!



~ Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes ~

Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2008, $18


With many options of quality grapes available to him, Steve wanted to focus on his love of Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  “I absolutely love working with Sauvignon Blanc grapes.  It is my goal to make Sauvignon Blanc my signature wine for Nyarai”. 


“You can smell the freshness as soon as the cap is untwisted”, commented Debbie during the Savvy Selections tasting panel.   


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: As you swirl this crisp, dry wine, refreshing aromas of lime, green melon & white grapefruit jump out of your glass. These aromas continue into the taste with a zingy key lime pie finish that lingers forever. A well made, elegant wine has loads of acidity – perfect to brighten our soggy summer weather!


Suggested Food Pairing: Serve chilled (at about 11C) on its own or with food – perfect for a picnic.  Try with scallops in lemon butter, pasta dishes topped with goat cheese or fresh from the garden steamed green beans tossed with butter and toasted almonds. Try your hand at the Cashew Encrusted Halibut with this wine provided by Chef Glen “Skip” Sansome of Petit Bill’s Bistro in Ottawa.


Cellaring: No need to wait…just chill this bottle and enjoy this summer.



Nyarai Cellars Cabernet Merlot VQA 2007, $18

What timing to start a new label – during the 2007 vintage when ripe fruit is plentiful. Named ‘Mother Nature’s gift to winemakers’, the 2007 vintage has created some of Ontario’s best wines.


A blend of 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, 33% Merlot, 17% Cabernet Franc & 15% Syrah that was aged for 13 months in French oak. Steve made this wine with the intention to have on hand and serve with any meal.


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Concentrated aromas of black fruit (think fresh juicy black cherries or wild blackberries) that then integrates with flavours of warm spices (can you find cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves?). “There is black licorice woven in through the aromas, taste and finish”, comments Debbie during the Savvy Selections tasting panel. Medium bodied with just enough tannins that will be softened with a few years in the cellar or why wait….simply serve with a burger to see how the tannins smooth out.


Suggested Food Pairing: This well made wine is a perfect ‘weekday wine’.  Why not have a few bottles on hand to serve with BBQ fare – burgers or lamb chops, pizza, pasta or a hearty stew when the cool autumn nights come around.  Steve shares his Louisiana Blackened Catfish recipe to enjoy with this wine.


Cellaring: This wine is impressive as is. Enjoy now or cellar for 2 years to soften the tannins. Serve at 12C to 14C.

Nyarai Cellars Syrah VQA 2007, $18
This wine is a work of art! Steve’s talent as a winemaker shows through in each glass.  Made with the same grape variety of Australia’s infamous Shiraz, the main difference is that Syrah style (rooted in France) is typically not as bold & in-your-face as the Australian blockbuster counterpart.  Syrah is only just coming onto Niagara’s radar with a few grape growers & wineries working together to produce an impressive red wine. Steve is devoted to Syrah as he sees that it will become Nyarai’s signature red wine.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: “The elegant aromas of dark fruit prepare you for a masterpiece wine.” stated Debbie during the Savvy Selections tasting panel.  This full bodied wine has flavours of freshly brewed coffee, dark chocolate & dried figs dance all over your palate with a lingering blackberry finish. 

Suggested Food Pairing: This outstanding wine has good tannins that will soften as you enjoy with food. This wine is begging to be enjoyed with BBQed steak, beef tenderloin or prime rib with all the trimmings grilled vegetables. Slow Food Chef Roger Weldon of Ballygiblin’s Restaurant offers his Rack of Lamb with (not so spicy) Chimchurri Sauce. 

Cellaring: This wine is ready to serve right now or if you choose, it could cellar quite comfortably for 5 to 7 years to soften the tannins. Serve at 16C to 18C. 



~ Recipes to enjoy with the Savvy Selections ~

With Nyaria Cellars Sauvignon Blanc…

Cashew Encrusted Halibut with Citrus Aioli

Serves 5
From the kitchen of
Chef Glen “Skip” Sansome of Petit Bill’s Bistro located on Wellington Street in Ottawa

The Petit Bill’s Bistro is named in honour of the co-owners’ father – “Little Bill” Fitzpatrick. The Westboro restaurant offers a unique menu marrying fine French food with “down home” comfort, “speaking French with a Newfy Accent”.  More about this fun restaurant at   



1 cup (250 mL) cornmeal

1 cup (250 mL) finely chopped cashews

Five 6-ounce (170-g) halibut filets

1 tablespoon (15 mL) plus 1 cup (250 mL) olive oil, divided

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 teaspoon (5 mL) orange zest

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) each lime and lemon zest

1/4 cup (50 mL) fresh orange juice

1/4 tablespoon (7 mL) each lime and lemon juice

2 egg yolks

5 medium red and/or yellow beets, roasted, peeled and cubed

8 fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/4 small fennel bulb, shaved thin

3 oranges, peeled, cut into segments

1/2 cup (125 ml) balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh orange juice




1. Mix cornmeal and cashews in small bowl. Lightly press filets in nut mixture to coat all sides evenly.


2. Heat 1 tablespoon (15 mL) olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat until hot. Sautée fish on each side until golden brown, about 6 to 8 minutes.


3. Pulse garlic, zests, juices and yolks in food processor until combined; with motor running slowly, add 1 cup (250 mL) olive oil in continuous stream until mixture is thick. Set aside.


4. To make beet salad, combine beets, mint, fennel, orange segments, vinegar and orange juice in a shallow pasta bowl.


5. To serve, place fish on the salad topped with dollop of garlic aioli.



With Nyarai Cellars Cabernet Merlot…

Louisiana Blackened Catfish with Roasted Red Pepper Butter

Serves 4
From the kitchen of Nyarai Cellar’s winemaker Steve Byfield


Blackened Seasoning

3 Tbsp dried thyme

2 Tbsp each garlic powder, onion powder, paprika

1 Tbsp dried oregano

2 tsp each salt, black pepper

1 tsp each ground cumin, ground nutmeg


Roasted Red Pepper Butter

1 red pepper

¼ cup soft butter

½ tsp paprika

Salt and pepper to taste


3 Tbsp butter

4 catfish fillets




1.      To make seasoning, combine all seasoning ingredients in a bowl. Set aside.


2.      To make butter, set red pepper in oven or toaster oven. Roast until blackened, about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool. Peel and seed. In a small bowl, mash red pepper into a puree. Add remaining butter ingredients. Whip by hand until well mixed. Set aside.


3.      Sprinkle seasoning on a plate, enough to cover bottom. Set aside.


4.      In a small pan, melt butter over low heat. Place a fillet in the pan, flipping over to coat both sides. Set fillet into seasoning, coating both sides. Repeat for each fillet. Use more seasoning if needed.


5.      Place fillets in pan. Increase heat to high and cook until blackened on both sides and slightly crisp, about 3 to 4 minutes each side. Use more butter if necessary.


6.      Serve hot with a dollop of red pepper butter.


With Nyarai Cellars Syrah…

Rack of Lamb with Chimichurri Sauce

Serves 2 or 3 people
From the kitchen of Chef Roger Weldon at Ballygiblin’s Restaurant located in Carleton Place

Located in the heart of Downtown Carleton Place, this dazzling, lively spot has the trappings of a pub-like atmosphere in the back and quaint dining in the front.  Savvy Company is proud to be the Sommeliers at this farm to table restaurant featuring an all-Ontario wine list.  More about the restaurant at 



1 frenched 6-rib rack of fresh local lamb (Chef Roger prefers Lanark County lamb)


For the chimichurri sauce:

1/4 cup (125 ml) olive oil

2 tablespoons (25 mL) fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon (15 mL) red wine vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 clove shallot, minced

1/2 teaspoon (2 mL) kosher salt

1 teaspoon (5 mL) crushed black peppercorns

1 bunch fresh spinach, well washed

1/2 bunch each fresh parsley, cilantro, mint and basil



1. Process sauce ingredients in food processor until minced. Let rest at least 2 hours before serving.


2. Place lamb rack on hot barbecue grill about 2 minutes per side to sear surface. Reduce heat or move rack to a cooler part of grill to roast about 10 to 15 minutes per side, using meat thermometer for rare (about 120 F/50 C) or medium (about 150 F/65 C). Serve with sauce.




Enjoy Nyarai wines while you can! 

You will definitely not see Nyarai wines at the LCBO. When you would like more of the wines or other wines from previously featured Savvy Selections, simply call me to make the arrangements for a delivery. 


Be forewarned….there are VERY few cases of Nyarai wines available.  It is anticipated that the Sauvignon Blanc (only 126 cases were produced) & Syrah will be sold out by September so don’t wait too long. Contact Savvy Company if you would like to re-order extra bottles.