Posts Tagged ‘VQA Ontario’

Shine the spotlight on Ontario wines

Posted by Susan

Friday, September 13th, 2013
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This weekend’s LCBO Vintages release celebrates Ontario wines, from the vineyards of Prince Edward County in the east, Niagara in south-central Ontario, and the north shore of Lake Erie in the west. Click to see a map. With so many great wines to choose from, our Savvy Sommelier Susan – who has visited all of these wine regions several times – gives you a brief history of the Ontario wine biz, so that you have a taste of how far we have come!

Early days for Ontario grapes

Not many realize there was a thriving wine industry in Ontario in the late 1800s & early 1900s, primarily in Pelee Island area. Settlers from the United States began growing grapes on the island in the mid-1860s. By the end of the 19th century, with the help of an enterprising gentleman, W.J. Hamilton, wines from Vin Villa Winery were being sampled across eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. The winery garnered widespread fame when one of its wines won a bronze medal at a competition in Paris. Changes in agriculture caused the industry to disappear from the area for many decades. 

Pioneers then move to Niagara…

As the prohibition era ended, a new wine business T.J. Brights was founded in 1874 with a substantial investment to improve the quality of Ontario wine, including the hiring of French-born winemaker and chemist, Adhemar de Chaunac, who imported a number of French hybrid grape varieties. Fast forward 100 years, by the 1970s, hybrids grapes were becoming more common in Ontario vineyards, yet consumer tastebuds were shifting to dry, low-alcohol tables wines rather than the slightly sweeter wines made with the hardy hybrid grapes. To go with the flow of this change, Ontario grape growers had already begun planting vitis vinifera vines (winespeak: the vine species that produces 99% of the grape varieties used in winemaking today – example: Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot etc) and began to see a vibrant future for these classic varieties in Ontario vineyards.

At the same time, a number of the recognized pioneers of Ontario’s modern wine industry were moving to the Niagara area from Europe: Paul Bosc Sr., Karl Kaiser, Ewald Reif, Herbert Konzelmann, and others.  Still to this day, these gentleman are praised by the Canadian wine industry as the founding fathers of the Ontario wine industry.

First new winery since 1929

In 1975, Inniskillin, pioneered by the dynamic duo – Don Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser – was granted the first new winery license in the province since 1929.  Don harvested his first Riesling, Chardonnay and Gamay grapes in the fall of 1977.  In 1984, Karl Kaiser produced the first icewine from Vidal grapes grown in the Inniskillin vineyards.

The beginning of VQA

In 1988, Don Ziraldo was instrumental in establishing a team of grape growers and winemakers to develop VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) as an appellation of origin system and a method of setting standards for wines in Ontario. More recently, sub-appellations have been established in Niagara to recognize the unique terroirs across the region. Interesting to note that VQA is not a national standard, rather established for Ontario and recently adopted by British Columbia.  Nova Scotia currently has a different system in place.

Ontario wines win awards around the world

Ian d’Agata, a world renowned correspondent for International Wine Cellar stated in the September 14, 2013 Vintages magazine, ‘Ontario is one of the premier cool-climate viticulture areas of the world . . .’.  Pretty impressive don’t you think?

And the world has been watching the Canadian wine industry grow and recognizing that we are producing fine wines. In 1990, Ontario wines leaped onto the world stage, when Karl Kaiser’s 1989 Vidal Icewine won the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the prestigious Vin Expo – France.

Open your door to the discovery of spectacular Ontario wines

Today’s Ontario wine industry has rapidly grown and the quality has increased exponentially as winery owners, winemakers and growers focus on terroir, viticultural practices and excellence in winemaking. With just over 100 wineries in Ontario now, not all of their wines are on the LCBO store shelves.  Enjoy the ones in this Shine ON feature and continue your discovery by subscribing to Savvy Selections, which features all those wines not available at the LCBO or Vintages.

Wineries we recently featured included Lailey Vineyard, Daniel Lenko Estate Winery & Pondview Winery.  Next month we will showcase wines from Casa Dea  Estates of Prince Edward County.  A subscription to Savvy Selections is like having a personal Sommelier!

For this “If I had $100, I would buy at Vintages”, I have selected a variety of Ontario wines along with some from Chile & Italy too. And for the first time in a long time, my shopping list was not even close to $100. I’ve $12.25 spare.  With this extra, take advantage of your savings & Go Local to sample a few more Ontario wines! Let me know which ones you put in your shopping cart!

Are you on Twitter? Share your Ontario wine discoveries with others using #ShineON. 

Cheers and Enjoy!

Susan

 

Fielding Pinot Gris 2012

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$21.95 (Vintages #251108) 12.0% alcohol
There’s a lovely hint of pink to the pale gold hue of this fragrant white wine. Aromas of ripe stone and orchard fruit mingle with melon and spiced floral notes. Dry, medium bodied and smooth, the clean fresh fruit and lively acidity build harmony, while hints of spice and a pithy note linger through the tasty, fruity finish. Enjoy it with roasted white meats or grilled sausages.

Miguel Torres ‘Santa Digna Reserva’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Curicó Valley, Chile
$13.95 (Vintages #342857) 13.5% alcohol
Brilliant yellow-green, there are pungent grassy and gooseberry notes mingling with tropical fruits, hints of lemon balm and other herbs. Dry, medium-bodied, the white wine replays focused flavours of gooseberry and herbs, underscored by vivid tangy acidity. Finishing long, clean and mouth-watering, this wine will work very well with pan-fried fish or a salad garnished with goat cheese and grilled peaches.

Tawse ‘Sketches’ Cabernet-Merlot VQA 2011

Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
$20.95 (Vintages #130252) 13.0% alcohol
This well-crafted blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot results in a red wine to enjoy with late fall barbeques. A beautiful ruby tone, the wine marries ripe black cherries, berries, cassis, sweet spice and a whiff of milk chocolate with fine-grained tannins and lively acidity. It’s dry yet approachable, mid-weight and skillfully balanced, leaving a hint of well-integrated oak on the persistent, fruit-filled finish.

Zuccardi ‘Santa Julia’ Magna 2011

Mendoza, Argentina
$14.95 (Vintages #93799) 14.0% alcohol
Scoop up a few bottles of this outstanding red wine blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec and Syrah. Inky purple and alluringly rich in aromas of ripe dark fruit, mint, spice and vanilla, this is a subtly well-balanced wine. Supple tannins and fresh acidity underpin the full-flavoured, luscious fruit—cassis, blueberry and raspberry—while the well-integrated oak offers a long-lasting spicy, peppery finish. Serve it with grilled or roasted red meats.  

Emiliana ‘Novas Gran Reserva’ Petit Verdot 2011

Colchagua Valley, Chile
$15.95 (Vintages #325662) 14.5% alcohol
For well-made organic wines offering great value, it’s hard to beat this producer. Rich dark fruit melds with exotic spice and smoke on the intense nose. Dry and full bodied, this red wine showcases firm tannins and clean acidity, yet in harmony with the concentrated spicy dark fruit—blueberries and blackberries come to mind. Robust and flavourful, dry and persistent on the finish, it’s a great choice for lamb.

Grand Total: $87.75

 

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TO DO: Relax in a Muskoka chair & enjoy this wine

Posted by Eva

Saturday, July 21st, 2012
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Curtis Fielding was a professional NASCAR driver, yet when his father began building the winery bearing the family name – Fielding Estate Winery, Curtis was intrigued by the new business. He tells us that he never looks back as he is having too much fun making wine!  Perched high up on the Niagara Escarpment, The Lodge as it is known is a must visit – it is a relaxed setting with an outstanding view of their vineyards & Lake Ontario.

Never heard of Pinot Gris?  Chances are you have as it is the same grape variety used to make the popular Italian Pinot Grigio wine.

Cheers & Enjoy!

 

Fielding Estates Pinot Gris VQA 2011

$18.95

This wine is a gold medal winner at the 2011 All Canadian Wine Awards & bronze medal winner at the 2011 Intervin International Wine Awards.  Now that is impressive!

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Crystal clear in colour with aromas of 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: Sip on its own, serve with spicy food or with steamed mussels, BBQed chicken, pork chops or salmon or even shrimp.

 

 

 

Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

 Fielding Estate Winery will be the feature winery for the month of August in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club.
Like this wine? Subscribe & it’ll be delivered to your home or office!

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Different & delicious – Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musque

Posted by Eva

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
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There is a growing trend in Niagara of grape growers transforming their family business to include a winery.  The Dyck family has done exactly that.  For 3 generations they’ve been growing grapes for larger wineries, yet 4 years ago, the family realized their dream of opening their own winery – Cattail Creek Family Winery –  using only the best grapes from their well established vineyards.

This delicious white wine is made with the unique Chardonnay Musqué grapes.  Don’t be misguided that it is anything like a Chardonnay wine, rather it is a clone that is intensely aromatic – similar to that of Muscat grapes.  This wine is a hands down favorite of several Savvy Selections wine club subscribers – what do you think?

Cheers & Enjoy!

Cattail Creek Chardonnay Musqué VQA 2011

$17.95
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes:  Intense aromas of pear, white peach, & lemongrass jumps from your glass then continues in the taste with added flavours of ripe tropical fruit (do you find mango? pineapple? banana?). This medium bodied wine is well balanced & lingers forever.

Suggested Food Pairing:  Great to sip on its own or with light curry dishes, shrimp, soft cheese or stuffed pork tenderloin would be a delicious food pairing.

 

 

Want to buy this wine?  We can arrange for it to be delivered!

Cattail Creek Estate Winery has been a feature winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Want to buy this wine or some of their other outstanding wines? We can help! Simply call on our Savvy Team by phone 613-SAVVYCO or email & we will gladly offer our wine recommendations of Cattail’s wines.

Or why not subscribe to Savvy Selections wine club & outstanding Ontario wines will be delivered to your home or office!

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An outstanding Pinot Noir from Good Earth Winery

Posted by Eva

Sunday, July 8th, 2012
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Nicolette Novak opened The Good Earth Cooking School on her family’s fruit farm in 1998. Offering a warm, relaxed & welcoming experience, her reputation spread & she was soon catering events too. Wine seemed a natural complement. Vines were planted in 2002 & her first vintage was released six years later. With impressive wines & great food, Good Earth is a spot to relax at the new bistro, indoor dining room & winery tasting room.

TIP: When Susan recently visited Niagara, she stopped in at the winery & stayed for lunch.  She raved about Nicolette’s ‘sip & savour menu’!

Cheers & Enjoy!

 

Good Earth Food & Wine Co. Pinot Noir 2009 VQA

$25.00

Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: This earthy wine entices with aromas of red fruit, vanilla, beetroot & campfire smoke. The flavours are complex—roasted coffee beans, underbrush, raspberry & cherry pie. Framed by refined tannins & fresh acidity, this wine is substantial in the mouth & with a warm spice finish.

Suggested Food Pairings: A classic Pinot pairing is grilled salmon or mushrooms.  This will also be good with BBQ steak & lamb chops too.

 

 

Want to buy this wine?  Subscribe & it will be delivered!

Good Earth Food & Wine Co. was recently featured winery in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Read our Savvy eZine to learn more about this outstanding winery & cooking school. You won’t find their wines at the LCBO, so call on us to arrange a special shipment of their wines to be delivered to your home or office.  Or better yet… subscribe to our wine of the month club!

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Debbie’s fingerprints are all over this wine!

Posted by Eva

Saturday, July 7th, 2012
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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

$19.00

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.

Want to buy this wine?  Subscribe & it will be delivered!

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.

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Celebrate Canada Day with a bubbly!

Posted by Eva

Saturday, June 30th, 2012
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Growing grapes on the farm and making wine at the winery are viewed as independent successes in their own right at Palatine Hills. Because of the weather conditions and the potential for developing vines that produce premium grapes with high acidity and good sugars, Palatine Hills’ acreage is renowned in the Canadian wine industry to producing some of the best Gewürztraminer vines in Canada. So much so, that other wineries purchase vines and/or grapes from Palatine for their own wines and vineyards.

Part of the successful business is due to the foresight and courage that owner John Neufeld exhibited in 1975 when he decided to completely replant the entire 187 acres of his established vineyards the with vinifera vines (winespeak: single grape varietal rather than hybrid grapes). Now, over 30 years later, Palatine has some of the oldest vines deeply rooted in the Niagara region.  Older vines draw untapped nutrients resulting in rich, luscious grapes for making premium wine.

Expanding from grape growing to include a winery in his business, John opened the winery in 1998. Winemaker David Hojnoski, was formerly the Executive Winemaker for Bright’s Wines for 30+ years.  Ten years later, Jeff Innes departed The Grange of Prince Edward Winery to join Palatine as cheif winemaker.  With each sip of his wines, you can taste that he continues the reputation of impressive wines at Palatine – like the Romeo sparkling wine reviewed by our team of Savvy Sommeliers

Cheers & Enjoy!

Romeo Blanc de Noir Sparkling VQA 2008

$29.95
Savvy Sommelier Tasting Notes: Why wait for a special occasion to pop open a bubbly?  Our Savvy Sommelier Debbie, believes that we don’t drink enough sparkling wine.  With the simple POP of the cork, is an easy way to set the fun mood of any gathering.  Blanc de Noir means that this wine is made Pinot Noir grapes made in the ‘methode traditionale’ style as French Champagne is crafted.  The result is a elegant light  pink colour in the glass with delicate mousse (winespeak: bubbles).  Romeo is crisp, dry with apple & citrus aromas that follows into the taste.

Suggested Food Pairings: Absolutely anything! Great sipped on its own, with light fare. For some fun, Debbie recommends to serve salt ladened potato chips (like Ms Vickie’s original chips) with sparkling wine.  The salt plays with the bubbles in your mouth & explodes like fireworks!

 

 

Want to buy this wine?  Subscribe & it will be delivered!

Palatine Hills Estate Winery is the feature winery all this month (July 2012) in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club. Like this wine? Subscribe & it’ll be delivered to your home or office!

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And the Winning Wines are…

Posted by Debbie

Monday, June 20th, 2011
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Ontario Wine Awards 2011

The winners were announced on June 10, 2011 with great fanfare at this year’s Ontario Wine Awards. All of us in the Savvy Team congratulate the award winners – several winemakers who we are proud to have shone the spotlight on their talent & wines in our Savvy Selections wine of the month club.

Raise a glass & enjoy fantastic Ontario VQA wines!

Sparkling Wine Award

Gold: Peller Estates NV Ice Cuvée Rosé

Silver: Château des Charmes 2008 Rosé Sparkling Methode Traditionnelle – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Henry of Pelham Family Estate NV Cuvée Catharine Brut – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Peller Estates NV Ice Cuvée

Dry Riesling Award

Gold: Château des Charmes 2008 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling Estate Bottled – featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Henry of Pelham Family Estate 2008 Riesling

Bronze: Thirty Bench 2009 Small Lot Riesling Steel Post Vineyard

Semi-Dry Riesling Award

Gold: Mike Weir Estate 2008 Riesling – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Hillebrand Estates 2009 Showcase Riesling Four Mile Creek Vineyard

Silver: Flat Rock Cellars 2009 Riesling

Bronze: Tawse 2010 Quarry Road – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Dry White Varietal Award

Gold: Nyarai Cellars 2010 Viognier – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Gold: Creekside Estate 2009 Viognier Reserve – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Konzelmann Estate 2008 Riesling Traminer Late Harvest – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Château des Charmes 2009 Aligoté Estate Bottled – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Gewurztraminer Award

Silver: Konzelmann Estate 2008 Gewurztraminer – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Malivoire Wine Company 2010 Gewurztraminer – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Pinot Blanc/Pinot Gris Award

Gold: Calamus Estate 2009 Pinot Gris – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Fielding Estate 2009 Pinot Gris – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Inniskillin 2010 Pinot Grigio – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award

Gold: Jackson Triggs 2009 Gold Series Fumé Blanc

Silver: Creekside Estate 2009 Sauvignon Blanc Reserve – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Jackson Triggs 2009 Gold Series White Meritage

Oaked Chardonnay Award ~ Under $20

Gold: Magnotta Winery 2007 Chardonnay Special Reserve

Silver: Stoney Ridge Estate 2009 Warren Classic Chardonnay – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Lailey Vineyard 2009 Chardonnay – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Oaked Chardonnay Award ~ Over $20

Gold: Exultet Estates 2009 Chardonnay

Silver: Tawse 2009 Robyn’s Block Chardonnay – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Coyote’s Run Estate 2009 Red Paw Vineyard Chardonnay – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Unoaked Chardonnay Award

Gold: Niagara College Teaching Winery 2009 Unoaked Chardonnay – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Vineland Estates 2009 Chardonnay Musqué – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Tawse 2010 Chardonnay Musqué – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Rosé/Blanc de Noir Award

Gold: Flat Rock Cellars 2009 The Rogue Pinot Noir

Silver: Malivoire Wine Company 2010 Ladybug Rosé – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Palatine Hills Estate 2010 Cabernet Franc Rosé – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Tawse 2010 Sketches Rosé – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Southbrook Vineyards 2010 Connect Organic Rosé – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Gamay Award

Gold: Malivoire Wine Company 2010 M2 Small Lot Gamay – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Malivoire Wine Company 2010 Gamay – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Malivoire Wine Company 2009 Courtney Gamay

Pinot Noir Award

Gold: Tawse 2008 Laidlaw Pinot Noir – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Stoney Ridge Estate 2009 Excellence Pinot Noir – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Rosewood Estates 2009 Pinot Noir Reserve – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Red Hybrid Award

Silver: Sandbanks Estate 2008 Foch Reserve

Bronze: Sandbanks Estate 2009 Baco Noir

Cabernet Sauvignon Award

Gold: Fielding Estate 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Southbrook Vineyards 2007 Whimsy Cabernet Sauvignon Lot 19 – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Strewn 2007 Terroir Cabernet Sauvignon – – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Cabernet Franc Award

Gold: Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Cabernet Franc Reserve  – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Hillebrand Estates 2008 Showcase Cabernet Franc ‘Carlton Vineyard’

Silver: Peller Estates 2008 Signature Series Cabernet Franc

Bronze: Pillitteri Estates 2007 Exclamation Cabernet Franc Reserve  – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Rosewood Estates 2008 Cabernet Franc  – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Merlot Award

Silver: Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Merlot Reserve – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Hillebrand Estates 2007 Showcase Merlot ‘Carlton Vineyard’

Syrah/Shiraz Award

Gold: Flat Rock Cellars 2007 The Rogue Syrah

Silver: Lakeview Cellars 2007 Syrah Reserve (Diamond Estates-The Winery)

Bronze: Southbrook Vineyards 2009 Triomphe Syrah – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards 2008 Syrah winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Creekside Estate 2007 Shiraz Reserve- winery featured in Savvy Selections

Meritage and Cabernet/Merlot Blends Award

Gold: Kacaba Vineyards 2007 Meritage Reserve – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Vineland Estates 2007 Cabernet Merlot Reserve – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Magnotta Winery 2007 Merlot-Cabernet Sauvignon Special Reserve

Late Harvest Award

Gold: Konzelmann Estate 2008 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal – winery & wine featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Château des Charmes 2008 Late Harvest Riesling Estate Bottled – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Calamus Estate 2009 Special Select Late Harvest Vidal  – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Vidal Icewine Award

Gold: Inniskillin 2007 Pearl Vidal Icewine

Silver: Inniskillin 2008 Sparkling Icewine

Bronze: Inniskillin 2006 Oak-Aged Vidal Icewine

Vinifera Icewine Award

Gold: Magnotta Winery 2007 Cabernet Franc Icewine Limited Edition

Silver: Mike Weir Estate 2008 Cabernet Icewine

Bronze: Peller Estates 2008 Signature Series Cabernet Franc Icewine

Blended White Award

Gold: Peninsula Ridge Estates 2009 Top Bench White – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Silver: Hinterbrook 2010 Cabernet Franc Blanc

Bronze: Legends Estates 2010 Truth

Blended Red Award

Gold: Wayne Gretzky Estates 2008 Estate Series Shiraz/Cabernet

Silver: Reif Estate 2009 The Magician – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Bronze: Vineland Estates 2009 Pinot Meunier – winery featured in Savvy Selections

Best Label Design Award

Gold: Kacaba Vineyards 2008 Single Vineyard Syrah

Silver: Lakeview Cellars 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve

Bronze: Fielding Estate 2007 Chosen Few Red

Wine Journalism Award

Beppi Crosariol, The Globe and Mail

White Wine of the Year Award

Château des Charmes, 2008 ‘Old Vines’ Riesling Estate Bottled

Red Wine of the Year Award

Flat Rock Cellars, 2007 The Rogue Syrah

Innovation in the Vineyard Award

Deborah Paskus, Closson Chase Vineyards

Winemaker of the Year Award

Paul Pender, Tawse Winery – Savvy Selections June featured winery & winemaker

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Summer Roadtrip – Savvy tips for winery visits

Posted by Debbie

Thursday, June 16th, 2011
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In less than a three hour drive from Ottawa, you can be in the heart of Canada’s fastest growing wine region – Prince Edward County. ‘The County’ as it is known, has over 20 wineries awaiting your visit. Take a drive for a day or make a weekend getaway to meet winemakers, sample their wines and roam through their vineyards. There are even wineries with restaurants to complete your wine getaway. And further along the 401, there are over 70 wineries awaiting you in the Niagara.


As a Sommelier, I enjoy travelling to wineries – whether driving around on my own, with other Savvy Sommeliers or even hosting a tour. Here are my ‘insider tips’ to make your roadtrip to wineries – anywhere in the world – more memorable:

Be selective – You don’t have to try every wine made by every winery. Decide ahead of time to taste a certain grape variety (Riesling, Merlot, etc) at each winery so that you can experience the changes from vineyard to vineyard as well as winemaker to winemaker.

Spitting is OK – We Sommeliers do it all the time! By spitting, you’ll be able to taste more wines on your roadtrip. Wineries will always provide a spittoon or bucket on the tasting counter. If it is not there – don’t be shy & ask for it!

Dumping is perfectly fine No need to finish all of the wine in your glass. When you’ve tasted enough, it’s perfectly ok to pour the remaining wine into a spittoon. Rest assured that the winemaker doesn’t take it as a signal that you didn’t enjoy the wine, rather it’s a sign you’re ready to move on to taste the next wine.

Refresh – It is important to nibble on crackers or plain white bread between tastings. And always make sure to have water nearby.  When ‘on tour‘, I always have bottles of water in my car to sip enroute.


Bring a cooler! Especially on a hot summer day, have a cooler in your trunk.  You don’t want the wines to ‘cook’ in the heat of your car – the wine (and your fond memories) can be spoiled by the heat.

There is an app for that – in fact, there are several to download on your IPod or Blackberry with maps, tips and wine reviews. The Ontario wine industry just released Traveling in Wine Country Ontario’ available at www.winecountryontario.ca Savvy Company fan Shawn McCormick has created the app Uncork Ontario


Most of all….have funwinemakers enjoy sharing their knowledge of wine & stories about winemaking, so don’t be shy – ask any questions!


For my ‘must visit’ list of Ontario wineries, email me

Cheers & safe travels!

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