Posts Tagged ‘Sugarbush Vineyards’

Terroir: A County Wine Celebration

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, May 15th, 2013

Did you know that there are over 30 wineries in Prince Edward County?

Taste them all at this year’s Terroir – a County Wine Celebration on Saturday May 25th where all of the wineries will be under one roof at the historic Crystal Palace in the heart of Picton. This is a great day trip from Ottawa or Toronto, or plan a weekend getaway.

Hop on the Savvy Bus!

New this year, we are running a coach service to Terroir. The Savvy Bus will depart from 2 locations in Ottawa. A Savvy Sommelier will be on board offering tips on wine, cheese or ‘County’ questions along the way. It will be a delicious day trip!


Book your seat on the Terroir bus > >

Many County wineries will introduce their new 2012 wines – perfect for summertime sipping.  Enjoy with artisan cheeses and other delicious gourmet foods made by local County chefs.

Here is a list of the wineries from Prince Edward County that will be popping the corks on their wines at Terroir include:

33 Vines Winery

Bergeron Estate Winery

Broken Stone Winery

Casa Dea Estates Winery

Closson Chase

Devil’s Wishbone Winery

Exultet Estates

Half Moon Bay Winery

Harwood Estate Vineyards

Huff Estates Winery

Karlo Estates

Keint-He Winery and Vineyard

Lacey Estates Vineyard and Winery

Lighthall Vineyards

Long Dog Winery

Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard

Rosehall Run

Sandbanks Estate Winery

Stanners Vineyard

Sugarbush Vineyards

The Grange of Prince Edward County Vineyards and Estate Winery

See you under the Big Top – Terroir Tent

Take a break from sipping & sampling the finest Ontario wines and take part in seminars & demonstrations by wine personalities including 2 seminars hosted by Savvy Company!   Debbie will be at the table with County wine industry pioneer Norman Hardie and newcomer winery owner & winemaker Glenn Symons.  They will be rolling up their sleeves to talk dirty…about Terroir that is!

Then our own cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons will give you a taste of what it makes cheese `artisan`.

Plan your day around this seminar schedule:

12:30pm – Shawn McCormick – “Using Social Media to Improve Your Winery Visit”

Featuring winemakers & winery owners:

1:30pm – 86’d with Ivy Knight from Toronto`s Drake Hotel – BBQ Sauce competition featuring top County wines and local chefs

2:30pm – John Szabo – Prince Edward County Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in a worldwide context: Master Sommelier John Szabo leads a fascinating comparative tasting with wines from other cool spots on the planet

3:30pm – Ange Aiello – Wine 101

4:00pm – Debbie Trenholm – “Terroir” Round Table discussion

Featuring winemakers:

  • Glenn Symons, Lighthall Vineyards
  • Norm Hardie, Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard

4:45pm – Vanessa (Savvy Company) – Cheese comparison

5:15pm – Tyler Philip – Wine Cellar Techniques

Discover the benefits of cellaring your collection with wine writer Tyler Philip.  This seminar and tasting will explain how to choose a storage location that will maximize the drinking potential of your best bottles

Get your Terroir tickets…

$35 in advance – Save $5 (inclusive of all taxes and online service charges)
$40 at the door (subject to availability)

Tickets can be purchased at




Debbie’s fingerprints are all over this wine!

Posted by Eva

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

Have you ever wanted to pick grapes? One beautiful Saturday morning in October, Debbie rounded up a group of wine enthusiasts to help Sally & Rob Peck – owners of Sugarbush Vineyards – with the 2010 harvest of Chardonnay grapes.  Sally & Rob have transformed their home & backyard in Prince Edward County into a small vineyard with a boutique winery that is a going concern.  Their wines are impressive too.

Definitely a must visit on your next trip to ‘The County’.

We will be helping wineries with the 2012 harvest.  If you would like more information about our ‘Helping the Harvest’ event, email us.

Cheers & Enjoy!


Sugarbush Vineyards Chardonnay 2010 VQA


Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Unoaked this Chardonnay has fresh aromas & tastes of citrus (can you find orange or is it mandarin?), vanilla bean that turns into reminders of English toffee (think Macintosh Toffee). It an absolutely pleasant wine to sip & enjoy.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine would pair nicely with butternut squash soup, cheese-laden pasta, roast turkey or chicken.

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Sugarbush Vineyards is a small boutique winery that you won’t find their wines at the LCBO.  Want to try some of their wines? Call on us & our Savvy Sommleirs will recommend an assortment of wine that we will arrange to be delivered to your home or office! It is that easy to discover delicious Ontario wines.


A taste of County Terroir – uncork these wines!

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012


Have you visited Canada’s fastest growing wine region – Prince Edward County? Known as ‘The County’, it is a picturesque 3 hour drive from Ottawa with the quaint village of Picton & over 25 wineries waiting to be discovered.  To give you a taste of wines awaiting to be enjoyed when you visit the upcoming 7th annual County Terroir Wine Fest, our Savvy Sommeliers share with you their tasting notes.  We look forward to seeing you at County Terroir on Saturday May 26.   More details at


Start with a sparkling…

Lighthall Progression Sparkling VQA 2011

Lighthall is a boutique winery in ‘The County’ focusing on growing Chardonnay & Pinot Noir grapes on their estate to make outstanding wines. Just bottled in time for County Terroir celebration, this sparkling wine is made using Vidal grapes – often saved for dessert wines.  This bubbly is far from being sweet!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Hand-crafted using the Charmat Method of sparkling winemaking, this bubbly is has refreshing acidity with aromas of citrus, pear & crunchy apple to create the lively, refreshing finish.

Suggested food pairings: Served well chilled, this wine is lovely on its own, with oysters, or paired with light appetizers.


A taste of white wines awaiting to be discovered…

Huff Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2009

Huff Estates is one of the few who grow Pinot Gris grapes in The County. Never heard of Pinot Gris?  Chances are that you have!  Pinot Gris is the same grape variety as the popular Pinot Grigio from Italy.    

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Crystal clear in colour with aromas of crunchy apple, stone fruit (think peach, nectarine, pear), continues into the taste with a ‘zippy’ lime finish that continues long after your first sip.

Suggested Food Pairing: Serve with dishes that are not too heavy or complex in flavours as the food will overpower the refreshing tastes of this wine. Seafood, roasted chicken & pasta alfredo would be delicious.


Sugarbush Vineyards Chardonnay VQA 2010

Savvy Sommelier Debbie Trenholm’s fingerprints are all over this wine!  She rounded up a group of wine enthusiasts with clippers in hand to help harvest the grapes for this wine at Sugarbush Vineyards. Winery owners Sally & Rob Peck have transformed their home & backyard into a boutique winery that is a going concern.  Definitely a winery to visit next time you are traveling around The County.

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Unoaked this Chardonnay has fresh aromas & tastes of citrus (can you find orange or is it mandarin?), vanilla bean that turns into reminders of English toffee (think Macintosh Toffee). It an absolutely pleasant wine to sip & enjoy.

Suggested Food Pairing: This wine would pair nicely with butternut squash soup, cheese-laden pasta, roast turkey or chicken.


Get ready for these reds!

Rosehall Run Pinot Noir County Cuvée VQA 2009

Pinot Noir is known around the world by winemakers as the “heartbreak grape”.  This grape variety needs care & nurturing around the clock. Difficult to grow in the vineyard & always changing in the cellar, crafting a good wine of Pinot Noir is the pinnacle of any winemaker’s personal achievement.  Rosehall has a growing reputation of producing some of the best Pinot Noir wines in ‘The County’. In March, Rosehall won a gold medal in the international Pinot Noir shootout in San Francisco, California – now that is impressive!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This Pinot Noir has delicious aromas & tastes of strawberry, raspberry & red licorice with a dash of vanilla on the long finish.

Suggested Food Pairing: Pinot Noir is a versatile wine – it can be served chilled or at room temperature.  As the wine warms up, aromas, tastes & levels of acidity change too. Classic matches with Pinot are roast duck & mushrooms & grilled salmon too.


Grange of Prince Edward Northfield Cabernet Franc VQA 2007

The Grange of Prince Edward is one of the pioneers of the wine industry, located in a historic loyalist barn that was built in 1826. Cabernet Franc is often used in red wine blends (one of the varietals in a Bordeaux blend) yet in Ontario, this grape grows so well that winemakers are now keeping it aside to craft outstanding Cabernet Franc wines. 

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: From the highly acclaimed 2007 vintage – the growing & harvest conditions were outstanding – this elegant & impressive wine has aromas of ripe red & black fruit, leather & cigar box (can you find these in your glass?). Concentrated flavours of cherry, raspberry, red roses & typical County limestone. There’s a punch of dark chocolate that lingers with the soft tannins.

Suggested Food Pairings: Fire up the BBQ!  Sausages, lamb chops, steak, grilled mushrooms or beef tenderloin would be delicious.

Sommelier TIP: Serve this wine with a dense piece of chocolate cake!

The Grange will be featured in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. 
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Discovering Prince Edward County

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

On a recent weekend visit to Prince Edward County, I had the opportunity to experience some of the great accommodations, food and wine.  I was amazed and impressed how vibrantly this region has grown since my last visit.  

Our visit started with our arrival at the historic Merrill Inn.  Located on a county road leading to the Loyalist route, the Merrill Inn is a historic property which was built in 1878 and is notable for its attractive gingerbread-trimmed gables.  Each of the rooms is beautifully appointed with attractive linens, period antiques and updated fittings.

The aroma of fresh-baked cookies led us toward the reception at the rear of the Inn.  We were greeted by owner and innkeeper Edward Shubert, who was a constant presence throughout our short stay.  After visiting some of the local attractions, we headed back to the Inn for a gourmet dinner prepared by chef Michael Sullivan.  The Inn’s restaurant is located in a cosy room with a view to the courtyard and herb garden.  The chef uses local ingredients wherever possible, and the wine list is replete with County wines.  We enjoyed a range of delightful appetizers (beet and orange salad, and delicious crab cakes), followed by main courses (such as fresh Ontario pickerel or shrimp and scallop saffron risotto) which were a feast for the eyes and the palate.  And the desserts we chose (chocolate pudding and apple tarte tatin) were superb.  Edward, the ever-attentive host, orchestrated the excellent service.

Our overnight stay was quiet and restful.  Breakfast the next morning included a wide variety of fresh baked breads and pastries, fruit, yogurt and cereal, as well as French toast and sausages for those who couldn’t resist one more indulgence.  Amy Shubert kindly provided one of Chef Michael’s recipes that appeared in the June’s Savvy eZine (a mini magazine that all subscribers of Savvy Selections recieve with their wine), featuring Black Prince Winery.

Prince Edward County has a long history of settlement, and of various forms of agriculture.  There is evidence of winemaking as far back as the 1850s, with vineyards now growing on former fruit orchards.  And a tradition of cheesemaking, which includes a number of local cooperatives, is being taken up by newcomers such as Petra and Shawn Cooper, owners of Fifth Town Cheese.  We spent an interesting couple of hours visiting Fifth Town’s dairy and tasting their cheese.

Petra led the tour of the dairy, which was opened less than a year ago, in July 2008.  She is rightfully proud of their Platinum LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) status, and of the wide variety of handmade artisanal cheeses they produce.  She indicated that their ‘green’ certification applies not only to the buildings, but to the cheese-making process, which is very energy intensive, and requires the disposal of significant amounts of waste water.

Eighty percent of the building is made with foodgrade recycled or recycleable materials.  An example is the building shell, constructed of “durisol”  blocks which are made with recycled wood fibre and green cement.  They do not harbour moisture, as the insulation is within the block, and they are fireproof.  Other environmental initiatives on the 20-acre site include a geothermal heat pump which preheats all their wash water, solar panels and a small windmill which generate green power, and a 10,000 litre cistern which captures rainwater.  A constructed wetland acts as a natural processing facility for whey and waste water from the cheese making process.  In addition, they grow hay and alfalfa which are used as feed for the goats and sheep raised by their farm partners.

Petra indicated that their facilities are regularly inspected by CFIA (Canada Food Inspection Agency), but that since their cheeses are handmade, they have little risk of listeria infection as this bacteria tends to grow inside machinery.  Their sophisticated pasteurizing room provides for flash pasteurization of all cheeses for exactly 17 seconds.  Petra indicated that their longer term goal is to make raw milk cheeses as well, but this must wait for suitable milk from their producers.

Their aging caves are constructed of cement covered with mounds of earth.  Geothermal tubes were installed within the raw cement walls to allow some heating in the coldest months of winter.  Otherwise, the caves naturally maintain a temperature range of 12-15 degrees to allow aging and the formation of natural rinds.  High humidity (85-95%) and periodic air changes are also required for natural aging of the cheeses.  Soft ripened cheeses spend 7-14 days in the caves, while hard rinds spend a minimum of 3 months, and up to 9-12 months.

After learning about the cheese making process, we were ready for truck bed tasting with Andrew Laliberte (Cheese Somelier) in the milk receiving area.  We tasted 5 cheeses, from the soft creamy bagel chevre to the 7-month aged Fellowship hard rind cheese.  Each was matched with a complementary wine, such as The Grange of Prince Edward County’s Trumpour’s Mill Pinot Gris VQA  with the Lighthall Tome cheese (one of our purchases!).  Andrew discussed the three sources of the distinticve flavors in cheese:  primary, based on the material you use (in this case goat or sheep milk); secondary, created by the processing method (for instance curd cheese, versus feta-like cheese, versus cheddar); tertiary, the aging process (examples such as soft-ripened cheese or hard rind cheese).  He also expressed his opinion that most cheeses are best matched with white wines, although some of the older, harder cheeses will match with red wines like Pinot Noir.

If you’re a lover of cheddar cheese and you’re in the County, don’t miss a visit to the Black River Cheese Co-operative, which offers a wide range of mild, medium, old and extra old cheddar, as well as flavored cheddars and cheeses from other local producers.  We selected a 6-year old cheddar from among the many types of cheese, as well as some delightful thin currant oatmeal biscuits produced by County Crackers.

Thinking of matching our cheese to a suitable wine, we headed out to a relatively new winery in the County, Sugarbush Vineyards, owned and operated by Sally and Robert Peck.  Sally is a wonderfully outgoing woman with a young family and a passion for her new vocation.  Neither she nor husband Rob had any grape growing or wine making experience when they decided to move back to the County from Alberta (Rob is a native son).  They had visited the Okanagan 10 or so years ago, and so the dream of owning their own vineyard began.   Says Sally, “It seemed so romantic, but when you start working in the vineyard, you realize that you’ve become a farmer!”

They have a large property with 8 acres under vine (the vines are now 7 years old), and opened their tasting room about 2 years ago.  They have planted only vinifera varietals, including Gewurtztraminer, Chardonnay, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc.  This year, they will be receiving their first 2 oak barrels, and plan to age their Pinot Noir in barrel.  The tasting completed, we left with bottles of the aromatic Gewurtz and the fruity, well-extracted Gamay.

If you’re planning a trip to the County, we recommend a stay at the Merrill Inn.  If you need any suggestions of County wineries to visit, contact us and we will provide you our ‘must visit’ list of wineries and restaurants to visit.