Today, I will take you to Ontario in Canada.
My old friend and former flat mate Dominik Franken with whom I studied agricultural economics at Bonn University and who now lives in Ontario (he is in the investment business but is also a musician) pointed me to the Niagara Wine Region on the Niagara peninsula in Ontario. (http://niagarawineregion.com)
When we hear ‘Canada’ what comes to mind is anything but wine. We think about wilderness, moose, endless prairies, cold winters, the Rocky Mountains, black bears, maple syrup, maybe squabbles’ between French and English speakers, St Laurence stream, and so on. But Canada has also its fair share of the worlds wine regions, one of them the Niagara Wine Region.
Its located only a short drive (about 20 to 40 minutes) from the Niagara Falls, to the West of the border between Ontario and New York State, USA (on a peninsula between Lake Ontario and lake Erie). Actually on both sides of the border you will find vineyards and wineries, in total about 60 plus wine businesses.
In 1982, about 25 years ago I went by train from New York City to Montreal and on my way back, I visited Niagara Falls. It was spectacular to see the falls. I would love to visit the region again, this time maybe with my family. That was the time when I worked for two month on a cash crop farm near Thedford and explored Ontario and Quebec.
Well, instead of me visiting again, my winelover friend Dominik (please visit his website for more information about his music at www.cowandsow.com) went their recently. His suggestions for a tour go as follows:
Start with visiting a large producer of an industrial type, for instance Jackson-Triggs Vintners and their Niagara Estate Winery. Both proprietors and co-founders, Don Triggs and Allan Jackson, are both icons, promoters and champions of the Canadian wine industry. They won many prestigious national and international awards. The grapes come from two estates, the Niagara Estate in Ontario and the Okanagan Estate in British Columbia. An international team of winemakers brings all kinds of influences to their wines.
2145 Niagara Stone Road
Then move on to Marynisson Estate, a family-owned winery. John Marynissen, the owner-winemaker is a Canadian who migrated from Holland in 1952 and grew grapes with his wife Nanny. Even before establishing his own winery John was well known as an excellent winemaker and received multiple awards. Dominik loved the Rieslings (the 1999 won a bronze medal) and the Sauvignon Blanc wines. On the webpage only wines from 2000 till 2002 are on offer, no Riesling among them.
RR#6 Concession 1
Dominik ended his tasting tour at the Reif Estate Winery. The Reif family are migrants from Neustadt, Germany and the Pfalz wine region. Ewald Greif established the first vineyards in 1977. The family has a more than 12 generation lasting tradition of growing grapes and making wines. In 1987 his nephew Klaus, a graduate in oenology and viticulture from the famous Geisenheim Institute in Germany, took over the reigns from his uncle. This year they Reif family commemorates the 25 anniversary of the winery. They went also online with their brand new Reif Shop. The wine club is called “Reif for Life”. Dominik loved their Riesling wines where he detected the German roots of the winemakers. The most amazing wines, however, were the ice wines, the Vidal Ice Wine (an award winning wine of the highest quality).
15608 Niagara Parkway
You might want to follow Dominks route and visit the above wineries. However, there is even more to see and taste.
A fellow blogger of mine, Canadian Sommelier Lorie O’Sullivan (http://lorieloveswine.wordpress.com), a native of the Niagara Wine Region, suggested to me the following list (in no particular order) of great wineries. I quote from her e-mail:
1. Stratus – very modern facility and wine making…they are making
some great blends both white and red. This winery is located in
Niagara on the Lake. www.stratus.com
2. Flat Rock Cellars (great Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Riesling, this
winery is growing grapes that do well with their microclimate and
soil). Winery is located in Jordan, right on top of the escarpment.
3. Tawse Winery – (amazing Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc wines) –
Another modern winery located on the Beamsville Bench. www.tawse.com
4. Henry of Pelham – They make the best hybrid wine, Baco Noir in
Niagara. They also make a great Gewurztraminer too. They also have
some older vines too. www.henryofpelham.com
5. Peninsula Ridge or Thirty Bench – both of these wineries are
close to each other on the Beamsville Bench. Thirty Bench is smaller
and has an excellent Pinot Noir and Riesling. Peninsula Ridge does a
great Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot. www.thirtybench.com or
I met Lorie in cyberspace only but she kindly parted with her knowledge of the region. She suggested another winery as well. Its name is le Clos Jordanne but it has not established a public winery and cellar door as yet, Lorie says. The wine is sold through LCBO and restaurants.
Well, if you should happen to be in Canada for Christmas, the above might be your visiting program. My thanks go to Lorie and Dominik for these interesting suggestions.
Thanks to both yourself and Lorie for the flattering mention!
My brothers and I are the proprietors of Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery in the Short Hills Bench sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula. We specialize in Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet-Merlot blends and Baco Noir, with smaller productions of Gewurztraminer (the 2006 is outstanding if I can be impartial!), Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Blanc and Gamay. From the main varietals, where appropriate, we make still wines (red/white/rose), traditional method sparkling wines and icewines.
Our wines are available accross Canada but in the E.U, the U.S, Japan and South Korea too. For more information on how to find our wines just go to http://www.henryofpelham.com and click onto “where to buy our wines” on the lower left hand side of the page.
Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery
Niagara is indeed the well know wine region in Canada. In fact, it’s #2 in North America after California.
Besides Niagara, there is also Prince Edward County – newest wine growing region in Ontario. Couple of hours East of Toronto. Close enough to US East Coast. Please see http://www.wineriesontario.com/pec for the maps of this and other three wine growing regions in Ontario.