Posts Tagged ‘Southbrook Winery’

Tips for your Valentine’s Day dinner…

Posted by Debbie

Friday, February 13th, 2015

Have you been wracking your brains to plan the perfect dinner night out or have been trying to get a reservation at your favorite restaurant on February 14th? Have a romantic night in.  One of our catering partners, Thyme & Again has an elegant take home menu prepared by their creative chefs using local ingredients & they’ve asked us to pair Ontario wines…and craft beers with each course.

 Here is your Valentine’s Wine & Craft Beer Shopping List ♥ 

Savvy SommeliersTo make your Valentine’s celebration easy & simple, our Savvy Sommeliers  have selected Ontario wines and our Brew Crew has added in local craft beers that will WOW your love.  The wines are available at various LCBOs in Ottawa and the beers you can drop in to the brewery to pick up a growler or two.

Cheers & Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your love!
Debbie & the Savvy Team



Special Valentine’s Day Menu with Wine Pairings


Cherry Tomato Florentine with Basil Balsamic Drizzle (Cherry Tomato with Spinach and Parmesan Stuffing) (V, GF)

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeño and Cheddar Stuffed Meatballs (GF)

Seared Scallop with Champagne Jelly and Candied Lemon Zest on Rice Cracker (GF)


wine_tasting_sparklingKick off your special night with a bubbly! Savvy Sommeliers recommend:

Casa Dea Dea’s Cuvée Sparkling (Prince Edward County) $18.95

Huff Estates Cuvée Janine Sparkling Rosé (Prince Edward County) $29.95

Featherstone JOY Premium Cuvée Sparkling (Niagara) $34.95


Crack open these Craft Beers:

Beyond the Pale Pink Fuzz

Perth Brewery Euro Pilsner



Tomato Saffron Bisque and Goat Cheese Crouton (V)

Baby Greens, Marinated Mushrooms, Pickled Beets and Lemon Garlic Vinaigrette (V, GF)

Crab Cake, Cucumber, Radish, Frisée Salad and Dill Mayo


Our Savvy Sommeliers recommend these wines:

Burnt Ship Bay Pinot Grigio (Niagara-on-the-Lake) $14.95

Malivoire Gamay (Niagara) $17.95

Fielding Red Conception (Niagara) $18.95


Serve one of these craft beers!

Bicycle Craft Brewery Belle River Blonde

Whiprsnapr Inukshuk Canadian IPA



Celtic Blue Cheese and Leek Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Roasted Garlic Thyme Jus (GF)

Herbed Potato Medallions; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Kacaba Single Vineyard Cabernet Franc VQA 2011 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion: Kichesippi Wuchuk Black


Spinach and Shallot Stuffed Chicken Breast with Braised Fig, Orange and Port Wine Jus (GF)

Parsley Risotto; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Sue-Ann Staff Loved by Lu Riesling VQA 2012 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion Beau’s St Luke’s Verse


Reif Estate WinesCocoa Chipotle Dusted Magret Duck Breast with Cherry Gastrique (GF)

Herbed Potato Medallions; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Rosewood Select Series Pinot Noir VQA 2012 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion: Covered Bridge “Over the River Chai”


Togarashi Smoked and Seared Tuna with Wakame Salad (GF)

Bamboo Rice; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Redstone Chardonnay VQA 2011 (Niagara)

Craft Beer suggestion: Big Rig Brewery Session IPA


Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille Terrine (V, GF)

Parsley Risotto; Heirloom Carrots and Chard

Wine to serve: Southbrook Triomphe Cabernet Sauvignon VQA (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Craft Beer suggestion: Cassel Brewery Honey Brown



Passionfruit Crème Brûlée (GF)

Rose and White Chocolate Mousse, Mango Meringue & Dehydrated Raspberry

Hazelnut Crèmeaux (N)

Dulce Mousse, Brown Butter Blondie and Dark Chocolate

Apple Confit Cheesecake

Bacon Caramel Corn, Ice Wine Gelée, Spiced Shortbread Crumb and Maple Dust

Mini Sweet Selection

Red Velvet Cupcake, Spicy Chocolate Tart, Salted Caramel Macaron (N), and Passionfruit Cheesecake


Dessert wines to finish off the evening:

Tawse Riesling Icewine VQA 2009 (Niagara)

beercheeseStratus Red IceWine 2012 (Niagara)


A Craft Beer will go with dessert too!

Dominion City Brewing Earl Grey Marmalade Saison


Menu codes:
N = Contains Nuts or Seeds
V = Vegetarian
GF = Gluten Free 


Call on Savvy Company anytime…

Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day…or any day of the year – you can call on us to make your get-together a special one. For more wine & craft beer recommendations from Savvy Sommeliers & Brew Crew call 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926)  or  



It’s harvest time! Winemakers are uber busy

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

My inbox is filling up with emails from wineries around the world reporting about their harvest or invitations to join winemakers to help pick grapes.  While it sounds romantic to be in the vineyard at this time of the year harvesting grapes, I can tell you from experience (in photo left), that it is nothing like the Hollywood movies.  Picking grapes is back breaking work.  It is fun though, when the rows are filled with chatty people who want to tell stories, swap wine tips or shoot the breeze.

The big question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is ‘How does this year’s harvest look?”.  When I ask, the winemakers often comment that this year, they are in a wait & see holding pattern.  In Ontario the general growing conditions was a cold spring, followed by a wet summer & a dry fall.  Unlike the stellar harvest of 2012, this year presented some challenges.  Now the talent of the winemakers will really show with what they can create with this year’s crop of grapes.

Here’s some quick clips of harvest reports that I have received to paint you a picture of how harvest 2013 is unfolding in wine regions around the world in the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere harvested their grapes already in February & March…in fact you may see white wines already on the store shelves with 2013 on the label!


Ontario harvest reports from…

… Southbrook Vineyard (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Winery owner Bill Redelmeier reports:
“Well, that time has arrived. We spend all year building up to the harvest, and each year it seems to sneak up on us. The 6 weeks from start to end sees the Winemakers, Vineyard Crew, Cellar Workers, Pickers and a lot of others living on adrenalin and Tim Hortons coffee while trying to bring in their year’s work. This is the time that a year is made or lost. At the winery it is like a dance: wagons full of grape boxes arriving and being unloaded to be sorted, the sorting table humming and grapes either being pressed for whites, or going into fermenters for reds.

Our reds are a little later. The Merlot and Cabernet Franc should start in about 2 weeks with the Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon following. That is perfect timing, as our “Join The Harvest” festival takes place on October 5thand 6th at the winery. That weekend is a great opportunity to see behind the scenes of our bustling operation, and a chance try tasting ripe grapes.

We have been posting film clips on our YouTube site which you may find interesting, have a look and see! They are a great way to learn about what is going on in the vineyard.”

…Henry of Pelham (Beamsville Bench)

“September and October are definitely our two busiest months,” said Paul Speck, president of Henry of Pelham Estate Winery in St. Catharines. “We’re out conducting the harvest, but it’s also our busiest time for tourism.” Henry of Pelham started harvesting its Pinot Noir last Friday (September 13). The variety is handpicked for the winery’s sparkling wines, and about 35 tonnes will be harvested over the coming weeks, “We like what we’re seeing so far,” he said. “If we get some cool nights and warm days, we should have a good crop this year.”

That said, there are still some risk factors. Speaking Monday morning, Speck was weary of the hot weather predicted for Tuesday — in excess of 30C.

“You want to get the sugar up to a good level and the acidity to come down, but we need to watch to make sure rot doesn’t set in with the extreme (temperatures),” he said. “We’ve had a good July and August, but hopefully the weather cooperates over the next four to six weeks.”

Aside from icewine varieties, Speck said, much of the picking for the Pelham Road winery should be done by the end of October. That means those visiting the winery during the Niagara Wine Festival will have a great opportunity to see the operation in full swing, he said.

“It’s a great time to come in for tours and tastings,” said Speck. “You get to come and see equipment that just sits there for nine months a year in the fields and in action.

…Broken Stone Vineyard (Prince Edward County’s newest winery)

Tim, Micheline and family from Broken Stone Winery report:

Harvest Weekend took place Saturday October 5 & Sunday October 6 when their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Meunier vines were loaded with succulent berries. Being their first harvest, this weekend was quite a party!

This is how the weekend unfolds (the big day is on Saturday)

10 am Arrive and start picking (truthfully, we’ll be out in the field by 8 am, so if you are eager, please feel free to come sooner)
1 pm Lunch & Toast to the Vines
2-4 pm More Picking!
4 pm Grape stomp & crushing
Sunday you’re welcome to come out, enjoy the outdoors, and help us pick, but it’s a much more informal affair.

Please wear your outdoor work clothes & bring gardening gloves.  We’ll provide a morning snack, hearty lunch, and an afternoon snack.   Children are welcome.  They can pick grapes, play soccer, stomp grapes, explore the property & jump on the trampoline.

October is a beautiful time to be in the County;  combine your day trip with a wine tour (there are 7 wineries on Closson Road alone).  Or you can stay until late afternoon and watch how we de-stem and crush the grapes.  Relax with a nice glass of Broken Stone Pinot Noir — our wine always tastes the best after you’ve worked in the vineyard where it’s grown.

British Columbia harvest reports from…

British Columbia Wine Institute says: “Early reports suggest that 2013 will be an excellent vintage with great quality potential.”

Penticton resident Michael Bartier, who is the chief winemaker at Okanagan Crush Pad, has harvested Gewürztraminer from a Summerland vineyard owned by his brother Don Bartier, to be used for their Bartier Brothers wine. “We harvested this vineyard a full three weeks earlier than last year, and the quality of the fruit looks very good. Prepare for a great 2013 vintage from the Okanagan,”

Christine Coletta (left), co-owner of Okanagan Crush Pad, where Haywire wines wines are made, expects to process 420 tons this year, from vineyards as far north as Kamloops and as far south as Osoyoos. “Grapes are ripening quickly and the fruit flavours on these early picks have been exceptional. But it is not over until it is over, so we are cautiously optimistic that harvest will continue to be a smooth sail.”

Matt Dumayne, who moved three years ago from New Zealand to make wine in the Okanagan, noted the vintage was shaping up to be the best he has experienced in the valley.

Judy Kingston, owner of Naramata’s Serendipity Winery offers, “2013 promises to be a great vintage at the winery. Lots of spring rain paired with hot days and cool nights made for ideal growing conditions, so we are two weeks ahead of schedule. The grapes taste phenomenal right now,”

The reds are coming along well, but we’ll need some dry weather coming into October. It should be an early year for everything,

Harvest Report from Italy… Hail & heavy rain dampens 2013 harvest

Italian wine industry web site – Assoenologi – provides this harvest report:
“Unlike 2012 when a series of adverse summer weather conditions had a significantly negative impact on wine production, 2013 has been kinder. Giving rise to more favourable conditions with an improved cycle of growth for the vines, slow maturation and bigger and fuller berries as well as restoring a traditional harvest time which in the Centre North, was up to10 to 15 days later than that of 2012 and 7 to 10 days later in the South and the Islands. 

Bizarre weather patterns, but not for vines.  Riccardo Cotarella, President of the Association of Assoenologi reports, that after a very mild autumn, one of the warmest on record for the past 25 years, winter started with a sharp drop in temperatures compared to the seasonal average. Throughout Italy January, February and March had higher than average rainfall, making this one of the wettest periods recorded for the past 50 years.

In Friuli in the first five months of 2013 rainfall equalled the annual average, in May, in Trentino 260mm of rain were recorded, the first 3 months in Romagna were the wettest in recent decades, and in the Marche from January to April/May the amount of rainfall (464mm) exceeded the average values for the last forty year by 46%. In total 50% of a year’s rainfall fell in the first three months of 2013.

Rainfall was also plentiful in spring and early summer, creating invaluable subsoil reserves, but at the same time giving rise in several areas, to a number of problems connected to virulent fungal diseases (mildew and oidium) which affected potential yields as well as creating setting issues after a heterogeneous flowering.

During the second half of July and for a month it was very hot, in August, there were important thermal variations between day and night thus creating ideal conditions for a very promising maturation, far better than those of the two previous vintages. Unfortunately, throughout Italy, there were also hail storms, that have adversely damaged the vines. 

To date – 31st August – less than 10% of grapes have been harvested. Puglia and Sicily were the regions that picked early grapes in the first 10 days of August – states Giuseppe Martelli, general director of Assoenologi and chairman of the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Wine Committee – Throughout Italy the harvest will peak during the last 7 days of September and the first 7 days of October, ending in November with the last harvest of bunches of Nebbiolo in Valtellina and Cabernet in South Tyrol, Alglianico in Campania and other various indigenous varieties on the slopes of Etna.

Early analysis suggests lower sugar concentrations than last year, but a more robust total acidity.

Grape maturation was gradual, over a reasonable period of time, not concentrated as in 2011 and 2012. A slow maturation implies a higher quality, it favours concentration of positive elements such as aromatic ones in white grapes and polyphenolic compounds in red grapes.

2013 therefore promises to be a vintage of attractive quality, but most of its potential is still to be assessed. It all rests upon September’s meteorological conditions and those in areas such as Campania, Valtellina, South Tyrol and Mount Etna in October. If September and October have adequate sunlight and rainfall we will have an excellent vintage, if rain prevails on the other hand, quality will definitely be affected. 

New Zealand wineries have already harvested & share this report…

Wines of New Zealand reported “Outstanding weather means we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape growing regions.”

Facts & Figures for the 2013 vintage:

345,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested, which is up 28% on the small 2012 harvest last year but up only 5% on 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is up+ 26% Pinot Noir is up +36% Chardonnay is up + 19% Pinot Gris is up + 44%

It’s worth noting that New Zealand Wines are currently tracking at +17% nationally this is the highest percentage growth of any wine category.


Stay tuned for more harvest reports. It might be October 15th, yet harvest is far from being over!



People are talking…about Ontario Wines

Posted by Julie

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

It is no wonder that the world has started to notice Ontario wines. As seen in this week’s release at LCBO Vintages (September 15), we have much to be proud of. The recent count at the end of 2011, there were just over 130 wineries in Ontario.  And I noticed many new wineries in my recent trips to Niagara and Prince Edward County this summer.

And there is a great buzz amongst wine lovers across the province who are being constantly amazed with the wine made in their own backyard.  Read some of these discoveries on or on follow the tweets on #LCBOgoLocal

Most winemakers agree that great wine starts in the vineyard and it’s the soil content that places Ontario wines on the international map. We often see tasting notes on Riesling that mention the zippy minerality in the wine. This is largely due to the soil. Last fall, I spoke at a seminar at the “Taste” festival in Picton and I learned there were over 10 different soil types in Prince Edward County alone. Talk about a challenge for the winemaker.

Ontario wineries produce largely wines made from the Riesling, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. With these varietals, sometimes blended with other less known ones,  come some great sparkling wines. The Peller Estate Ice Cuvee Sparkling Rosé, (featured this month at Vintages $35.95) was a winner of a gold Medal at Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards. Hinterland Winery in Prince Edward County specializes in sparkling wines and most wineries feature a sparkling wine. I recently tasted the Fielding Estates and13th Street “sparklers” which I can only describe as “seriously yummy”.

Niagara’s Stratus Vineyards is the world’s first winery to be given the coveted LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) green certification. Southbrook Winery’s  “Framboise” can be found at the prestigous Harrods in London, England. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth requested 6 bottles of icewine during her Jubilee Visit to Canada in 2002 from Canada’s Icewine Specialists at the Royal DeMaria Winery in Beamsville.  Ontario produces 75 % of all Canada’s ice wine which can be risky business since production requires the availability of a large enough work force to pick a whole crop within a few hours, often on a moment’s notice.

Niagara’s Sunnybrook Farm Estate Winery is Canada’s first fruit winery specializing in wines made from 100% Niagara Peninsula grown tree fruit and berries. We even have a winery that, thanks to its location on Pelee Island, offers a Bird Observatory and another winery that offers tastings in an old caboose, not to mention the one in a converted convent. Many Ontario wineries also have taste-rooms in original homestead barns some of which are architecturally signficant dating back to 1815.

Every year, the serendipity excitment of finding new wine takes me on the Ontario journey. We need not look further than our own backyard. The following wines illustrate that Ontario has it all. I hope you agree.

Cheers and Enjoy,

Cave Spring Estate Bottled Vineyard Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2009

VQA Beamsville Bench,Niagara Peninsula
$15.95 (Vintages #246579) 13% alcohol

This clean refreshing beauty just glistens in the glass. The Chardonnay Musqué is a clone of the Chardonnay grape which means a completely different taste from the latter. While it has aromas of white blossoms, the grapes were vinified in stainless steel that give the wine some grapefruit and green apple flavours. It is slightly off dry, smooth and supple all the way through to the minerally finish. It has solid medium body that could carry you from the appertif to desert, not to mention a thirst quenching sipper on its own.


2027 Falls Vineyard Riesling 2011

VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara Peninsula
$18.95 (Vintages #294041) 11% alcohol


Pale in colour and almost watery in appearance, my first introduction to Falls Vineyard is a delicious one. I adore a light coloured wine. The Riesling is slightly herbaceous, lots of wet stone flavours that are typical in a Niagara Riesling with that pinch of lemon lime citrus that take your taste buds on a salivating roller coaster. It is light bodied, a lovely end of summer drink to enjoy with a field tomato salad, some coarse salt and a French stick. Get those taste buds moving !



 Lailey Vineyard Chardonnay 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$19.95 (Vintages #193482) 13.5% alcohol

Winemaker Derek Barnett has created an elegant labour of love with this Chard. Think of ripe but crisp yellow apples, a pinch of lemon, a tad buttery but fresh, medium bodied with a slightly caramel finish.  Perfect for some baked or grilled tilapia and asparagus and a little soft artisan cheese to finish. It is a beautifully balanced wine, a good price point for this quality and I would be proud to serve this Chardonnay to anyone. A great all season Chardonnay.

Featherstone Cabernet Franc 2010

VQA Niagara Peninsula
$16.95 (Vintages #64618) 13% alcohol


Nothing like a bright ruby red wine that shows off aromas of sweet and sour cherries. Only 694 cases produced so do grab one while its on the shelf. It is slightly vegetal, red berry flavours, with a hint of green pepper and tobacco with grippy tannins (this is a good thing).  A fabulous bbq wine to have with meaty burgers or kebobs.


Henry of Pelham 2010 Reserve Baco Noir

VQA Ontario
$24.95 (Vintages #461699) 13.5% alcohol

I remember having a prof in Sommelier school that said Baco Noir was only good for making jelly. I wish I could find him now to prove him wrong. The wine is dark and inky with aromas of raspberries, cherries and wood smoke.  Slightly vegetal with ripe chewy tannins that lend interest to the wine and give it a  long lingering finish. Would be fabulous with some sausages or pasta to soak up the bone dry tannins.


Grand Total: $96.75

The Ontario wines from this release were a really hard pick. I could have listed all Chardonnay’s but knew that would be uninteresting for you as the shopper. Who besides me would like a basket of Chardonnay wine?  I also like to showcase as many Ontario wineries as possible and plan to do so again next month. Some may also be from this release to help talk “turkey”.

If you do however happen to win the lottery, I tried an Inniskillin Riesling Icewine ($69.95) that won the 2012 Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines and a Gold Medal for Best Vinifera Icewine at the The Lieutenant Governor General’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines. The honeyed pear and baked apple flavours with just the perfect balance of acidity was really over the top. I’m trying to think of a special occasion that could warrant such a splurge but there are so many Ontario wines that I want to put in my basket, that one will have to wait.

Happy sipping on the remainder of our summer days and nights. Julie