By Jane Staples
Exciting things are happening in Ontario’s wine industry and wine tourism is developing in great strides.
One trend is that women now participate in every facet of the business and perform in every role, whether as winemaker, planting in the vineyards, or in marketing.
Women like Ann Sperling, Winemaker at Southbrook Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, are making waves. Southbrook’s winemaking philosophy is based on biodynamic, organic farming practices. Every aspect of their operations reflects their commitment to these principles.
Carolyn Hurst co-owns Westcott Vineyards in Niagara Peninsula with her husband, Grant Westcott. Victoria Westcott is their Sales Manager. Visiting the winery, you are greeted by portraits and wines named after women of historical importance and family matriarchs of the Westcotts.
Witty and eye-catching labels on many Ontario wines are making waves too. When Megalomaniac was launched in 2007, it won Best of Show for wine label design at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, as well as Gold Award for beverages packaging design at the London International Awards.
Megalomaniac owner John Howard put the same care and thought into the design of his new winery in Vineland that he puts into his cleverly named wines. The newly opened winery was built at the highest point between Milton and Niagara Falls, offering breath-taking views. Surrounded in glass, the new winery allows visitors views of the vineyards while they enjoy a private tasting.
These are exciting times for winemaking in Ontario. Here are a few gems to help you get acquainted with Ontario’s great wines.
13th Street Winery Cuveé Brut Rosé
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, Canada
Dry with bright acidity and a fine, creamy mousse, this Sparkling Brut Rosé has lovely red fruit, cran-apple, and mineral notes. Versatile as an aperitif or with smoked salmon or charcuterie plates. Equally lovely with dessert. Incredible value for a traditional method sparkling wine.
Henry of Pelham Estate Riesling 2012
VQA Niagara Peninsula, Ontario
Fresh and aromatic, with flavours of orchard fruit and citrus. Rieslings are highly versatile with white fruit and mineral flavours and acidity levels that make them very food-friendly. A great match with pork or shellfish.
Featherstone Onyx 2010
Niagara Peninsula, Ontario, V.Q.A.
A Cabernet Franc/Merlot blend with dark fruit, plums, cedar, herbs and mocha nuances. Dry with excellent structure that can stand up to rich meats like Osso Buco or prime rib.
Sweetness: Extra Dry
Long Dog Vineyard Top Dog Riserva Pinot Noir 2009
Prince Edward County, Ontario, VQA
An inviting nose of strawberry, cranberry and forest floor, followed by a layered palate of cranberry, vanilla, baking spices, earth and oak. Smooth, well-integrated mouth-feel with a long red fruit finish. Pinot Noir is a classic match for Thanksgiving turkey.
Cave Spring Indian Summer Late Harvest Riesling 2010
Niagara V.Q.A., Ontario
Made from hand-harvested grapes picked late in the autumn to allow for concentrated flavours. A luscious wine opening with notes of Bartlett pear and lemon meringue, along with candied orange peel, golden raisins and a touch of spice. Flavours echoed on the palate in a silky mouth-feel and rich finish. Pairs superbly with Foie Gras or blue cheeses, or makes a leisurely dessert all by itself.
Jane graduated from Algonquin College’s Sommelier Program with the Gold Medal in Food and Wine Pairing and a score of 94.5% in the final exam.
She completed courses in Winetasting, Grape Varieties, Food and Wine Pairing, Old World Wines, New World Wines, Vinification and Advanced Sommelier Techniques. She also has a BA from the University of Toronto.
Jane is a principal wine columnist for nataliemaclean.com, with this regular column, as well as for her own site, bellovino.ca. Jane is also the regular wine columnist for Ottawa Wedding Magazine and also writes for Alive Magazine.
Jane provides sommelier services and tastings for private functions, and is fluent in English, French, Spanish and Italian.