In honour of our recently celebrated national birthday, I would like to pay homage to the wines of our land. This will come as a real wake up call to some Canadian wine drinkers. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have dedicated your wine-life to banishing Ontario wines to the gallows. The amount of times I have heard the blasphemous rejection of our homegrown grapes is astonishing. Our Niagara and Prince Edward County gold-medal wines just can’t seem to break through threshold and iron grip of their Italian and French brothers. This post is to remind, or perhaps inform you for the first time, that if you hold the stereotype of a lesser cultivated Canadian grape, then you best change your attitude, and quickly. If you happen to be one of the lucky folk who live in Ontario, you have ready access to some of the best wineries and vineyards in the country, where wines that are affordable and comparable to their major international competitors are being harvested. Here is a glimpse into the top 5 wineries in the Niagara region. A visit to any one of these wineries will surely make you change your (off-key) tune . . .
This tiny winery in Beamsville pays particular attention to detail and cares more for the quality product over mass production. Organized Crime specializes in creating cool climate wines from hand crafted wine reflective of their unique terroir of the Niagara Peninsula.
Southbrook Vineyards was the first wine estate in Canada to earn themselves an organic and biodynamic certification. This means that they produce wines in a very specific and eco-friendly way. By now we are all comfortable with the term “organic”, however a “biodynamic” winery goes a step further. The biodynamic style prohibits the use of pesticides as well as using interesting harvesting techniques such as time-tested harvesting approaches tied to the calendar, the seasons and celestial cycles. Another aspect of biodynamics includes managing soil with teas or other nutritional ingredients. You may think this all sounds very “hippy dippy” ; however, the bottom line is this: the producers have to spend more time with their grapes and in the vineyard, and therefore you can expect a better quality product in the long run.
Another small winery, Fielding focuses on 100% Niagara grown grapes and caters to the wines that flourish in the cooler climate. Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay are their award-winning whites and Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon are their top reds. Fielding Estate is geared toward hospitality to enhance your wine tasting experience and has a beautiful log cabin wine room on site.
Established in 2000, Stratus winery was the first winery in Canada to achieve the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. Environmentally friendly and sustainable, Stratus is a world leader in its production methods. Some of my favourite wines stem from this particular winery, try out the Stratus Riesling for a cool, mineral white.
5. Cave Springs
The integral component to the exceptional quality of Cave Springs wine is their determination to reflect the terroir of the land. Their wines are almost always representative of the cool climate, best displayed in their Chenin Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir. To achieve the exceptional quality of wine, Cave Springs applies viticultural practices to the soil and land, usually tailored to the individual grape varietals. On the trellis, they practice leaf removal and cluster thinning to add to the richness of each grape and finally, they hand harvest and selectively pick the grapes.
August is the best month to catch bud break before harvest, so why not plan a trip to the Niagara region and experience the wines of your home and native land.
Images courtesy of : ottawabites.com , winesofcanada.com, feilding.com , somewhereness.com, niagaragrapevine.ca