Wild Yeast and Wine Temperature’s Impact on Wine Taste with Carolyn Hurst of Westcott Vineyards



How do wild yeasts help to bring out unique qualities in wine? What’s involved in farming and making wine sustainably? How does changing the temperature of your wine impact the tasting experience?

In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with winemaker Carolyn Hurst.

You can find the wines we discussed here.


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  • How do Canadian shipping regulations impact winemakers?
  • What can wine lovers do to help with changing overly-restrictive policies?
  • Which types of wine can you get from Westcott Vineyards?
  • Why does Carolyn prefer using wild yeast to ferment Westcott wines?
  • What is it about Lilias Ahearn Massey that inspired Carolyn to name a wine after her?
  • Who is the inspiration behind Westcott’s Violette wine?
  • What’s involved in farming and making wine sustainably?
  • How did Westcott make their wines vegan and vegetarian-friendly?
  • Which unpopular wine opinion does Carolyn hold?
  • Why would Carolyn want to share a bottle of wine with a stoic?
  • Which fun wine tip can you try this week?


Key Takeaways

  • I was fascinated to hear how wild yeasts help to bring out unique qualities in wine and what’s involved in farming and making wine sustainably.
  • I agree with Carolyn about how profoundly changing the temperature of wine impacts the tasting experience.
  • I also agree that liquor monopolies and licensing based on prohibition-era legislation are preventing Canadian winemakers from being able to legally ship their wines across the country. That needs to change, especially for an industry where each producer is so small that they often don’t produce enough to fulfill large liquor store chain orders and so they depend on direct orders from customers.


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About Carolyn Hurst

Carolyn Hurst is president of Westcott Vineyards in Niagara, Ontario, which she founded with her husband Grant Westcott in 2006. Since 2017, she has been the Chair of the Board at Ontario Craft Wineries, representing more than 100 wineries in the province. Previously, she has been the president of three successful technology companies. She also has significant experience in the restaurant/hospitality industry earlier on in her career. She is a graduate of University of Western Ontario.




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Natalie MacLean (00:00):
Even at 10,000 cases, you’re a small winery, which is good in the wine world. It’s still very boutiquey.

Carolyn Hurst (00:06):
Yeah. We’re a rounding error in the world of wine. Ontario’s producing millions of cases of wine every year, and some of our biggest producers wouldn’t make the top 10 in California or other major wine growing regions. We’re tiny, but we’re mighty.

Natalie MacLean (00:23):
Yeah, it’s good for wine lovers because it’s artisanal. You don’t want big conglomerate massly produced commercial wines.

Natalie MacLean

Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places and amusingly awkward social situations? Well, that’s the blend here on the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean, and each week I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please and let’s get started.

Welcome to episode 239. How do wild yeasts help bring out unique qualities and tastes in your wine? What’s involved in farming and making wine sustainably? And how does changing the temperature of your wine have a dramatic impact on what you taste? In today’s episode, you’ll hear the stories and tips that answer those questions and more in Part Two of my chat with Carolyn Hurst, president of Westcott Vineyards in Niagara, Ontario. You don’t need to have listened to Part One from last week first, but I hope you’ll go back if you missed it after you finish this one.

Now, a quick update on my memoir Wine Witch on Fire: Rising from the Ashes of Divorce, Defamation, and Drinking Too Much. I’m just back from speaking at the annual American Library Association Conference in Chicago. My presentation was on pairing books and bottles for your existing book club or to get new patrons into the library with a fun informal tasting. The librarians were so engaged and enthusiastic about this idea. Let me just say there’s a high overlap between those who love to read and those who love to drink. I called it pairing Spines and Vines or Reading Between the Vines. I cannot help myself. So many of them told me afterwards that Wine Witch on Fire would be a great fit for their book club, especially with the comprehensive free Book Club Guide. I say this because you may find a book club at your local library or bookstore that you want to join.

You may also already have your own book club or wine group for whom you’d like to recommend Wine Witch as one of your monthly reading picks. So if you like help in convincing your members, you can get the free guide at WineWitchonFire.com. The guide is also useful if you and a friend or your partner or your mother or father, son, daughter want to read the book together and then you can compare notes. It not only has discussion questions about the book, but it will also get you talking about larger issues such as your opinion on certain types of manipulative wine marketing and how you feel about your own relationship with alcohol. It also has tips on organizing and informal wine tasting. Whether you’ve read the book or not, I would appreciate it if you’d ask your local library and or bookstore to stock Wine Witch on Fire. You can do this in person or often on the website for the library or bookstore.

If you’ve read the book, I’d love to hear from you at [email protected]. If you haven’t got your copy yet and would like to support it and this podcast, please order it from any online book retailer no matter where you live. Every little bit helps spread the message in the book. I’ll put a link in the show notes to all retailers worldwide at NatalieMacLean.com/239.

Here’s a review from Laura Fabiani, who lives in Lachine, Quebec “Wine expert Natalie MacLean’s latest memoir, her third book, is an enlightening expose on the reality of working in the wine industry. Her honest account of how she faced her divorce, her defamation accusations, and her weakness toward drinking to cope made this memoir highly relatable and readable. She compares what she went through to a witch hunt, hence the title. My recent interest in learning more about wine brought me to MacLean’s website, TV segments, courses and books, but it was this memoir that truly made me understand the courageous woman behind the name. I say courageous because it takes guts to bear one’s emotions and show vulnerability when the media has already set you on fire. But therein lies the strength of facing one’s trials and fears as MacLean did, making this memoir hopeful and uplifting. McLean’s writing is fluid and contemplative, almost like reading a novel. Never boring and most illuminating.

It also satisfies those thirsting for wine knowledge. Her narrative is interspersed with different wine tastings and challenges of the wine writing world. I was thrilled that she included wines that she talks about throughout her memoir as well as their history. Although working in an industry where misogyny, competition and bullying are accepted, MacLean has not lost her big heart in spreading her wine knowledge and the happiness that goes with a good glass of wine, especially in the celebrations of life. Five stars.” Thank you, Laura.

Okay, on with the show.

Natalie MacLean

Another challenge that you face is direct shipping across the country. Not to get into the tangle of legal stuff, but the federal government has approved it, but the provinces still have lots of barriers, so it’s not easy or maybe even legal for you to ship to certain provinces. If Canadians living elsewhere want to buy and taste your wine, how big of an impact is that on you and what needs to change?

Carolyn Hurst (06:17):
Yeah, it’s definitely another impact. Again when you talk to people in Europe, they can’t fathom how we have these problems in terms of moving things from one province to another. It’s like being in Paris and saying, you can’t ship your wine from Bordeaux to Paris because you’re in different provinces. It’s so ridiculous.

Natalie MacLean (06:40):

Carolyn Hurst (06:40):
So our association is working hard to try to encourage governments to fix some of those problems. It really comes back to the monopolies. Again not to get into too much detail, but the liquor monopolies and licensing that are based on prohibition era legislation are what is preventing us from being able to legally ship product across the country.

Natalie MacLean


Carolyn Hurst

I mean technically we get a lot of Quebec. We have very strong following in the province of Quebec, and they come to visit us in the summer and they load the wine up and take it home with them. I guess they’re breaking the law. I don’t know

Natalie MacLean (07:21):
That is bizarre.

Carolyn Hurst (07:22):
I’m not naming any names.

Natalie MacLean (07:26):
No, no, of course. I’m sure there’s a list. They’d be hunted down. But it’s the one agricultural product that is the greatest value add. All these spinoff jobs. It’s the only thing we put on the dinner table in its original label. Why we can’t share those agricultural products across the country is very strange. But I mean for those listening and I know you don’t want to get down the rabbit hole, but there is a protectionist effort from the local or the provincial monopolies to safeguard their revenues et cetera. So that needs to change and hopefully that will come. Is there anything people listening can do to help this? I mean I know there was petitions like free my grapes, and is there anything else that we can do to help with this?

Carolyn Hurst (08:13):
Yes, I think just keep commenting on it and I mean even this show raising the issue, but it really comes down to political will and whether there is political will to take this on. I mean that’s part of why we need associations like ours in order to coalesce the voices, to have some volume going into speak to policymakers. That I think anything helps in terms of just commenting on it and asking, why can’t I do that? Talk to your local politician and say, why can’t we do this and keep some pressure on it. Because politicians ultimately want to do what people care about. So whether it’s important to people or enough to make a comment about it. I guess we’re hoping that it is.

Natalie MacLean (09:04):
So contact your local politicians and them know how important it is.

Carolyn Hurst (09:08):
And politicians, so towns like here in Niagara, are mayors of the towns and regional councillors. All of those types of people are very aware of the impact that some of these policies have on our businesses and extremely supportive and their voices are going there. So doesn’t even have to be your MPP, it your could be your mayor, regional kind of politicians.

Natalie MacLean (09:35):
Sure, sure. Absolutely. This wine is all about diversity of taste. And if we can’t taste the full range of what we make here in this country, I think that’s a loss for everybody.

Carolyn Hurst (09:45):

Natalie MacLean (09:46):
So let’s talk more about Westcott Vineyards. How much wine do you produce on average a year? And what are your specialties? You’ve mentioned the cool climate grapes, but tell us a little bit more about the winery.

Carolyn Hurst (09:57):
Yeah, so we’re very focused on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay because when we purchased the Butler’s Grant vineyard, we acquired Riesling and Cabernet Franc. So we’ve now kind of expanded that out a bit. So we’re very, very, very focused on making the best possible Chardonnays and Pinots primarily. And then in addition to that, we’re now making more and more sparkling because Chardonnay and Pinot are great base grapes for classic Champagne or Charmat or Crement de Bourgogne styles of sparkling wine. We’re making more and more. Actually, we started kind of as a little side project. Back in 2013, we started making traditional method and now it’s just become a very significant portion of our portfolio of wines in a good year. In terms of crop, we produce about 10,000 cases of wine. Some of our wines were producing in very small lots, so they’ll only be 200 cases of wine that Block 76 Chardonnay that I was talking about because it’s from that little acre of land. We are getting just a couple hundred cases of wine from it.

Natalie MacLean (11:16):
But even at 10,000 cases, you’re a small winery, which is good in the wine world. It’s still very boutiquey.

Carolyn Hurst (11:23):
Yeah, we’re a rounding error in the world of wine. Ontario’s producing millions of cases of wine every year, and some of our biggest producers wouldn’t make the top 10 in jurisdiction like California or other major wine growing regions were tiny, but we’re mighty.

Natalie MacLean (11:43):
Yeah, which is great in the world of wine. It’s good for wine lovers because it’s artisanal and that’s what you want. You don’t want big conglomerate, sort of massly produced wines. Why do you use wild yeast to ferment your wines?

Carolyn Hurst (11:58):
So why we started wild yeast is an interesting topic. So when we first started in 2012, 2013, we were using selected yeast. It’s called selected yeast and it comes – there’s a big book of catalog; it’s hundreds of pages thick in terms of selecting your yeast – so if you have this type of grape planted and you want to produce this type of flavour, you select this yeast. It’s like a slash cookbook to order catalog is what the yeast book looks like. And so

Natalie MacLean (12:33):
Great bedtime reading.

Carolyn Hurst (12:35):
Yes, Exactly.

Natalie MacLean (12:37):
Sounds like a real strange song.

Carolyn Hurst (12:38):
Right, 30 seconds and you’ll be asleep. Yes. It’s a very sulphuric reading. So we started with selected yeast and our winemaker at the time was Geisenheim trained and was really not interested in trying wild yeast. It’s unpredictable because you just don’t know what kind of results you’re going to get, whether it’s strong, whether it’s a strong action in the fermentation process, what kind of flavours is it going to impart, all those types of things. They’re wild variables, wild yeast right. So 2015, we started a little trial on a couple of barrels of Chardonnays. We do barrel fermentation and barrel aging. So the fermentation actually takes place in the barrels with the yeast in the wine, and then it dies when it’s consumed the sugar and falls to the bottom of the barrel. So 2015, when we started introducing wild yeast on a trial basis, we were blown away with the results that our native yeast, our yeasts that exist out in the vineyard naturally.

It’s on the grapes when you harvest them. And so you bring them in and you don’t. Normally, if you’re using selected yeast, you inoculate. You kill the natural yeast and then put in your selected yeast to make sure that you’re controlling the process from end to end. So when you introduce wild yeast, it comes in on the grapes and goes into fermentation. And so we were just blown away. We loved the really good vigorous yeast produced grape fermentation. Also on the malolactic fermentation, which is a whole other discussion. And back to the calcium deposit, we have high degree of malolactic acid in our grapes in certain parts.

Natalie MacLean (14:34):
Which is tasting harsh acids.

Carolyn Hurst (14:36):
Exactly. So the malolactic fermentation process converts malic acid to lactic acid so that it’s a softer, when you get that buttery kind of some of those types of and more of a texture as well to the wine. So there’s just a more layer of, a little bit more voluptuousness to the wine and layers of flavors when you allow them to go through malolactic fermentation. And you need yeast to do that as well. So everything that we’re doing at Westcott is about expression of place.

So we had the geography discussion, the escarpment, the soils, the 40 year old vines that have regenerated from the soil, from the air and the water that is of this place. And the yeast is of this place. This yeast doesn’t exist anywhere else except in our vineyards. And so it’s integral to the wine making process, and it’s integral to why our wines taste the way that they do. There’s nowhere else in the world that you can get that taste because it’s the yeast from our vineyard working with the grapes that we’re growing in our vineyards.

Natalie MacLean (15:53):
And does yeast impart a taste to the wine? Or is it just an action agent that is converting that sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide?

Carolyn Hurst (16:03):
So yeast contributes in two ways. The actual fermentation process has phenols as part of that process that the yeast is contributing to.

Natalie MacLean (16:14):
Which are flavour precursors.

Carolyn Hurst (16:16):
Flavour precursors, exactly. Thank you. And then the second way that the yeast impacts the flavour is through its resting as lees. So in the case of our Chardonnay, the yeast is not, we call it spent yeast. So it’s expired. It drops to the bottom of the barrel, and that yeast is imparting its flavours to the wine while it’s resting. And so there’s a big discussion in terms of style of wine making. Do you stir the lees? So the French call it bâtonnage, which sounds a little more rough, but you’re basically stirring the lees in Chardonnay or you’re not. And based on that decision, you’re either creating more contact with the lees or less contact with the lees as it’s suspended in the wine, and that changes the flavour. The yeast in Chardonnay in particular, the lees give some of those toasty or brioche or those types of flavours.

Natalie MacLean (17:22):
Right. Yeah. Biscuity. Creamy. Yeah, they’re lovely.

Carolyn Hurst (17:28):
I love having conversations with guests that come to the winery about Chardonnay in particular, because Chardonnay to me is one of the easier wines to show all the different impacts that we just described. So we make a Lilias, which is an unoaked. It’s made in stainless steel. You know how malolactic fermentation do we allow in that? Why does it taste the way that it does? Then right through to an estate Chardonnay, which is barrel fermented, barrel aged with no lees stirring, but full malolactic fermentation that takes almost all winter to complete. So how you put those wines side by side, and they are very different wines that came out of the same vineyard, and they’re Chardonnay grapes. They’re the same grapes grown in the same places but the wine making process has the decisions made them taste very, very different.

Natalie MacLean (18:25):
Yeah. Let’s talk about Lilias because you have a few different wines that are named after women who have inspired you in history. Who was Lilias?

Carolyn Hurst (18:34):
So Lillias was Lilias Ahearn Massey. When Grant and I lived in Ottawa for a number of years, and we had a cottage up on 31 Mile Lake in Quebec, and we purchased boat from Lilias’ estate. Beautiful triple cockpit, mahogany dodge motorboat and restored it. It was in pretty bad shape. I used the royal we there. That is a hundred percent Grant. I don’t do boat restoration. Anyway, Lilias, she piloted that into her eighties up and down the lake, and she was the daughter-in-law of Vincent Massey when he was Governor General. Our first Canadian born Governor General actually, Vincent Massey. And he was a widower at the time, and so she was the chatalaine of Rideau Hall. She was married to Vincent’s son, Lionel.

Natalie MacLean (19:28):
So she was kind of like the hostess.

Carolyn Hurst (19:30):
So the hostess, yeah, exactly. So she would host these beautiful parties. All the dignitaries would come, sometimes they would take them up to the family island with this and have these fancy garden parties out in the middle of nowhere. But she traveled with the Governor General, and she was actually the first woman to fly over the North Pole and fly through the Arctic. She went by dog sled on some of the trips with the Governor General. Just a very can-do. She drove an ambulance for the Red Cross during the Second World War. And she’s kind of lost to history. I mean at the time you look back, the Ottawa newspapers would do stories on her decorating style or the things that would typically be.

Natalie MacLean (20:15):
All the women’s stuff.

Carolyn Hurst (20:17):
The important stuff for women back in the fifties. And she was a very remarkable woman, I think, but she’s kind of lost to history. We were inspired by women that kind of came of age in the 1920s and were breaking the rules or pushing for things like votes for women or social justice and protection of families and all of those types of things. But a number of them were in.

Natalie MacLean (20:44):
I love that.

Carolyn Hurst (20:45):
Yeah. There’s a strong feminist theme at Westcott.

Natalie MacLean (20:48):
Yay. Tell us about one other, Violette. There’s a wine named after Violette or Violet, how do you say it?

Carolyn Hurst (20:54):
I say Violette. So Violette is a sparkling that we make Charmat method. So the bubbles are made in the tank as opposed to in the bottle the way of traditional method. So Violette was named for Violette Selfridge, who was the daughter of the founder of Selfridge’s department store in London. And she was, at 16 years old, marching on the streets with Parkhurst and others risking arrest because she was marching for votes for women at a really tumultuous time in the UK.. She married a Duke or a Count or something from France, but she flew her gypsy moth aircraft all over Europe and wrote a biography about that. I want to say 1928. So it was 10 years later before Amelia Earhart flew her plane across the Atlantic Ocean and Beryl Markham after that, another pioneering aviatrice. And I just find these women fascinating that they were taking on these, I mean I’ve flown a bit and I just can’t imagine what they did. And doing that as women in the 1920s and 193os is just mind blowing to me, the fortitude that they would have to have.

Natalie MacLean (22:15):
Remarkable stories. I love that.

Carolyn Hurst (22:17):

Natalie MacLean (22:18):

Carolyn Hurst (22:20):
But fun too.

Natalie MacLean (22:21):
Yeah. Oh yeah. They knew how to have good time and host a good time.

Carolyn Hurst (22:25):
They knew how to have a good time as well. And they look great too, right?

Natalie MacLean (22:32):
Yes. Stylish, I’m sure. 1920a I love that style. Let’s talk about how you manage your vineyards sustainably. What kinds of things do you do and what does that mean for you to farm and make wine sustainably?

Carolyn Hurst (22:47):
Sustainably is a mixture of things. It’s farming practices in terms of giving back to the land and protecting the land and nourishing the land as part of your agricultural practices. It’s also part of the economic viability that we were talking. In order for a farm to be sustainable, it needs to be economically viable and sustainable. And then the third aspect of it is community, that you’re never doing any of this alone. And sustainable practices means that you’re conscious of the community and the people that work for you and work with you as part of what you’re doing in terms of the long-term health of everything that you’re working with. So in the case of Westcott, we’re just into the. we’re, we’ll be certified sustainable by the end of this summer.

Natalie MacLean


Carolyn Westcott

So going into this year’s harvest, we’ll have our certified sustainable logo on everything that we’re doing. And for us, that’s everything from. Both of our vineyards are in Niagara Escarpment land. So we are part of the world UNESCO biosphere zone. We’re part of the Niagara Escarpment Commission zone. So we’re very, very conscious of the water that comes through our property. So we’ve got part of the 18 Mile Creek on one of our properties. We have setbacks from that creek of about 10 meters on both sides where we’ve introduced native grass and that so that there’s retaining the banks and providing habitat for all kinds of species all the way through our process. We’ve reintroduced on the west portion of the Westcott property, we’ve replanted Carolinian forest. All kinds of mixed. About a thousand trees in a stretch of a couple of acres as a buffer between our vineyard, our winery operations, and the forest, and some houses that are just kind of over to the western boundary. With this winter, we installed solar on our barn and we’re now operating, we’re, we’re actually operating pretty much independently. We’re not pulling any electricity from the grid for our operations. We’ve installed a very complicated, very expensive septic system on our winery property that processes all of our water waste and returns it back into the land after going through several different stages of filtration and dealing with it. So as much as possible were.

Natalie MacLean (25:29):
You mentioned you had like 10,000 liter cisterns for that operation to collect rainwater.

Carolyn Hurst (25:35):
Yes, that’s right. And then we have rainwater collection off of all of the barns, but we use that in our landscaping. And then we have a large garden. I do all the gardening and landscaping work at the properties. It’s one of my big passions. So we have a large kitchen garden beside our outdoor patio, and all of that is fed by the rainwater system that we put in place.

Natalie MacLean

That’s great.

Carolyn Hurst

And then in the vineyard, we don’t use herbicides. We mechanically hoe and we put alternating cover crops on the. Starting to look at till free and regenerative farming practices as part of our continuous journey to leave as much in the ground and put as much back into the ground as possible. And we don’t use, the only thing preventing us I guess from getting too organic or going fully organic is that because of the high humidity in Niagara because we are surrounded by those lakes and water, we have some challenges with mildew, and the organic methods are we’re looking at it, but we don’t want to that much copper in our soils which is what the organic method is for controlling mildew and downing.

So anyway, we’re doing what we can to make sure that we’re doing everything possible to leave as little. Leave it better than we found.

Natalie MacLean (27:02):
That’s great. And in addition to that, you’re not only sustainable, but your wines are. Are they vegan and vegetarian friendly?

Carolyn Hurst (27:09):
Yes. Yes. Absolutely.

Natalie MacLean (27:11):
Both. Yeah. Okay.

Carolyn Hurst (27:12):
Again when we started, we were using some egg-based products for thinning so to pull sediment so that would be suspended in the wine making process. You can use things that bind to particles that are in the wine and make them heavier so that they drop out. So that’s people use egg white based products for that. And when we first started, we were using that. We determined that it just wasn’t worth it in terms of there are other ways we use coals to get sediment to drop out of our wines and to do natural filtering. So we’re every opportunity we’re looking for the most natural way to make our wines. And removing that was pretty much a no-brainer. That was the only element that would not be vegan acceptable. So.

Natalie MacLean (28:02):
All right. Well, my goodness, this has flown by. But I still want to get to the lightning round. Just short answers, quick questions. Because this has been fascinating, Carolyn. I mean we’ve covered so much ground, literally and figuratively. Is there something you believe about wine with, which some people would disagree?

Carolyn Hurst (28:20):
Sorry, I’m not good at lightning because I’m a slow, deep thinker.

Natalie MacLean (28:23):
That’s okay. I’ll just go with a soft spring rain.

Carolyn Hurst (28:28):
Yeah. Yeah. I would say it’s in the news a lot about health and the Canadian health whatever it was that put out the report saying that

Natalie MacLean (28:38):
The new guidelines.

Carolyn Hurst (28:38):
We should all drink less, which is fine. I get that. But in terms of wine, I think we’re very much of the opinion that part of a healthy lifestyle. And I think maybe some people just disagree with that. But for me, everything is always about moderation and balance. And I don’t drink wine in huge volumes. I drink it slowly and contemplatively and that brings me a lot of joy in my life. And I think that it’s part of a healthy lifestyle. So I don’t think everybody agrees with that.

Natalie MacLean (29:11):
Well, I’m biased but I agree obviously. I think stress kills more people and not that you need to turn to wine to reduce your stress.

Carolyn Hurst

Hundred percent.

Natalie MacLean

But it’s a part of an evening, of slowing down, marking the transition from a busy workday to slow family time I find. And pairing it with food is just I think a lovely thing to do. Speaking of pairing with food, do you have a favorite childhood food that you remember? And what would you pair with it today in terms of wine?

Carolyn Hurst (29:41):
Grilled cheese sandwich

Natalie MacLean (29:43):

Carolyn Hurst (29:44):
Maybe I’ve gotten a little more sophisticated about the cheese that I put in my grilled cheese sandwich, and maybe the bread has gotten a little more sophisticated, but I still love grilled cheese sandwiches. And man, that’s a great pairing with an estate Chardonnay with that nice, beautiful barrel fermented barrel age texture. And that’s it for me.

Natalie MacLean (30:05):
That sounds great. If you could share a bottle of wine with any person outside the wine world, living or dead, who would that be and which wine would you share with them?

Carolyn Hurst (30:16):
I’m reading a book on the stoics, the Lives of the Stoics, right now.

Natalie MacLean (30:21):

Carolyn Hurst (30:22):
I’m thinking one of these stoics would’ve been kind of fun too, maybe Marcus Aurelius. I don’t even know how to say his name. Aurelius.

Natalie MacLean (30:32):
Aurelius, I think. The Roman. The stoics. Yeah.

Carolyn Hurst (30:34):
Yeah, the Roman stoic. I think he would be of pretty interesting.

Natalie MacLean (30:37):
Are stoics fun? That sounds like a contrast.

Carolyn Hurst (30:41):
I kind of identify

Natalie MacLean (30:44):
Maybe if they have enough wine.

Carolyn Hurst (30:45):
Yeah, loosen them up a bit. Loosen ’em up a bit.

Natalie MacLean (30:51):
Exactly. And is there a wine tip that you’d like to share with listeners, like something they can try this week, whether it’s related to food pairing or anything related to wine?

Carolyn Hurst (31:01):
One of the things that I find fun is trying wines at different temperatures. And we have a lot of conversations again with guests at the winery. One of our wines, Temperance, it’s a red blend and it’s kind of medium bodied. I drink that right through the summer. In the winter, I’ll go for fuller bodied reds. I’m slowing down and kind of having them with something warm by the fire, a stew or that kind of thing. But in the summer, I find when a white just isn’t quite going to do it and may drink a Rosé, but a nice medium bodied red, slightly chilled, so that it’s fresh that it brings out the freshness of it. So what we do sometimes in the tasting room is we put the bottle of Temperance kind of at room temperature and a bottle of Temperance slightly chilled. And just pour that to try them side by side. And people are just blown away by how a slight, just a couple of degrees difference completely changes the way that wine tastes.

Natalie MacLean (32:08):

Carolyn Hurst (32:09):
It’s kind of a fun. It’s a fun party trick.

Natalie MacLean (32:12):
Absolutely. It’s something to try at home. And I would assume that the chiller the wine, as you said, tastes fresh. It’s lively, it’s uplifting. Maybe you get more of the acidity. But I would just assume, but just tell me what happens with Temperance at room temperature, getting more of the fruit flavours and a warmer feeling. I don’t know.

Carolyn Hurst (32:29):
Yes. So that’s it, what you described first. The cooler one has that fresh fruitier, little bit more edginess as a pronouncement of acid on the finish. And with the room temperature, it’s just kind of a little bit softer, rounder, and some people find it almost flat when it is being compared that way.

So yeah, it’s just rounder and softer and fuller, I would say, as opposed to fresher and more fruit. Some of the tertiary flavours are more apparent in the warmer ones so you get some of the earthiness and more subtle some of the oak impact some of that would come through more than the expression of the vibrant fruit and the cooler one.

Natalie MacLean


Carolyn Hurst

And then the pairing, of course, with foods so that it’s like. At room temperature, Temperance, I would be I’m back to almost beside the fire with some cheese or something like that. And with the chilled Temperance, I’m thinking something off the barbecue with maybe a bit of heat on the sauce or a salmon or something like that with a bit of schzewan. It is a completely different pairing in terms of same wine, different temperature.

Natalie MacLean (33:50):
Oh, great. Fascinating. I have to try that tonight with a wine. Is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to mention?

Carolyn Hurst (33:58):
Well, we haven’t talked about your book at all. I was a pre-read.

Natalie MacLean (34:03):
This is your time not mine.

Carolyn Hurst (34:04):
I read your book. I loved your book. I was just looking here.

Natalie MacLean (34:10):
Thanks, Carolyn.

Carolyn Hurst (34:11):
I have two of your other books around here somewhere. And I enjoyed them as well, but I really enjoyed your book. Everybody should be buying it for a whole bunch of reasons. Young women, old women, men, everybody. It’s a courageous.

Natalie MacLean (34:26):
We didn’t pre-arrange this, but I appreciate it. I appreciate it. It is  Wine Witch on Fire if anybody doesn’t know by this time. I haven’t mentioned it at the beginning, but yeah, thank you.

Carolyn Hurst (34:37):
It’s a great read. It was really a page turner, and it resonated with me on so many levels. You’ve done a remarkable, remarkable piece of work that you put together there.

Natalie MacLean (34:47):
That means a lot to me. Thank you, Carolyn.

Carolyn Hurst (34:49):
You go, girl,

Natalie MacLean (34:52):
We go together. Woo. You and I and Violette and Lilias, we’re all marching down the street together.

Carolyn Hurst (34:58):
Absolutely. Absolutely.

Natalie MacLean (35:01):
How can people find you online, your website, et cetera?

Carolyn Hurst (35:05):
It’s www.westcottvineyards. com with an “s”.  And we’re actually, we’ve got some wine in the LCBO  right now in Vintages, our estate Pinot Noir from 2019. We have very limited kind of eight week periods that we get our wines into Vintages, and so it really helps us when people buy them. Everybody wants to come to the winery. You can buy our wines online from our web shop. We’re an early adopter of Shopify, and then occasionally the wines are in Vintages. And it does really help us if you see them in Vintages to pick them up and buy them.

Natalie MacLean (35:41):
Sure. Because then they’ll reorder from you if they sell, obviously.

Carolyn Hurst (35:44):
That’s right. If you order. Exactly. It’s all about the sell through in the channel.

Natalie MacLean (35:48):
It is. Books and bottles, same thing.

Carolyn Hurst (35:51):
Books and bottles, same thing. And software, same thing.

Natalie MacLean (35:55):
Yes, indeed. Yes. Well, thank you so much, Carolyn. I really enjoyed this conversation. You are a pioneer and leader in the industry in terms of the whole industry, in terms of what you’re doing with your winery and the spectacular wines you’re making. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with me here today.

Carolyn Hurst (36:14):
It was my pleasure. I was delighted to be here, and thank you for having me.

Natalie MacLean (36:18):
Oh, well, thank you. All right. Well, I look forward to our next conversation, perhaps in person next time.

Carolyn Hurst (36:24):
Yes. Got to get you down to the winery.

Natalie MacLean (36:26):
Yes, I’ve got to come.

Carolyn Hurst (36:27):
I’d love to do something with your book as well.

Natalie MacLean (36:29):
Sure. Okay. I’ll say cheers for now.

Carolyn Hurst (36:32):
Got lots of people that would love to meet you.

Natalie MacLean (36:34):
Okay. Thanks, Carolyn.

Carolyn Hurst (36:35):
Okay. Cheers. Take care.

Natalie MacLean (36:43):
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoy my chat with Carolyn. Here are my takeaways. Number one, I was fascinated to hear how wild yeasts help bring out unique qualities in the wine, as well as what’s involved in farming and making wine sustainably. Number two, I agree with Carolyn about how profoundly changing the temperature of wine impacts your tasting experience. And number three, I also agree that liquor monopolies and licensing based on the prohibition era legislation are preventing Canadian winemakers from being able to legally ship their wines across the country. That needs to change, especially in an industry where each producer is so small, they often don’t produce enough to fulfill large liquor store chain orders, and so they have to depend on direct orders from customers.

In the show notes, you’ll find the full transcript of my conversation with Carolyn, links to her website and wines, the video versions of these conversations on Facebook and YouTube live, and where you can order my memoir online now no matter where you live. That’s all in the show notes at NatalieMacLean.com/239. Email me if you have a sip, tip, or question at [email protected]. If you missed episode 49, go back and take a listen. I chat about wine and travel stories with Stephanie Piche. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.

Stephanie Piche (38:10):
The classic chorizo, I used to do one, which is really fascinating. It’s really easy and I don’t even have to write a recipe for anyone for this. Take a fresh chorizo sausage, just roast it enough so that you can slice it in pieces, and then top it with red wine. And you’re poaching it, so you’re actually cooking the chorizo in red wine. So all of the garlic and paprika inside the sausage comes out into the wine, kind of makes its own sauce, and the chorizo takes on a whole different flavour because it’s been poached in the red wine. And then just pairing that with a classic Rioja, maybe a Crianza or something.

The chorizo, I think, is going to overpower a little bit. If you have something that’s too big and bold, its kind of like Spain on a little plate, that little bit of meat and that little bit of fat, and the little bit of red wine sauce, and then the classic Rioja. That’s pretty much what everyone would have at six o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon in Spain.

Natalie MacLean (39:02):
If you liked this episode, please email or tell one friend about it this week, especially someone who’d be interested in the wines, tips, and stories we shared. You won’t want to miss next week when I share some more insider wine stories from my new book. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps the Westcott Pinot Noir.

You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at NatalieMacLean/subscribe. Meet me here next week. Cheers.