Wine Access, December
The Ontario wine industry roared ahead in 2005: further to
openings we've already covered this year - Stratus, Flat Rock,
Tawse and Fielding in Niagara, and Closson Chase in Prince Edward
County - yet more wineries opened or will soon in Niagara and
Erie North Shore.
Hidden Bench is new, but their vines are anything
but: "this year the Rosomel vineyard's riesling are 30 years old
and the merlot 27," said owner Harald Thiel, adding that a number
of award winning wines have come from that vineyard. Winemaker
Jean-Martin Bouchard, originally from Quebec, trained in Australia
and Alsace. People are confident about Hidden Bench: 120 or so
buyers have pre-reserved the first wines due for release in September
n Erie North Shore, grape growers George and Mary Jane Smith
opened Smith & Wilson Estate Wines at
the end of July. Off Highway 3 and overlooking Lake Erie at the
westernmost edge of the viticultural zone, the Smiths tend sixteen
varieties and produce half a dozen wines themselves. They will
sell their 5,000 case production themselves, so you'll have to
visit to sample their baco noir, gamay-merlot, vidal or gewurztraminer,
Near Windsor is Viewpointe Estate Winery. John
Fancsy converted his brother's farm into a vineyard and bought
more property in 2000. They will produce 10,000 cases eventually
from their vast range of grapes: how about viognier, tempranillo,
auxerrois and pinot gris as well as the usual suspects? Don't
look for them at the LCBO, however, they're selling locally and
in the metro Detroit area. Fancsy said the stores there are "very
receptive. In Michigan, I can place my wines in selected stores,
where I don't really have that opportunity with the LCBO."
Three new wineries will open next year in Erie North Shore: Colchester
Ridge Estate Winery, Muscadere Vineyards and Sprucewood
Shores Estate Winery, all in Harrow.
VQA Ontario update
The sub-appellations plan was approved by the VQA board and
members earlier this year, but a ministry shuffle means it was
still not enacted as law by press time. Responsibility for the
VQA was moved to the new Ministry of Government Services, so a
whole new crew of bureaucrats had to look at planned changes.
VQA Director Laurie Macdonald is confident it will soon be law.
As of the March 31, 2005, 78 members offered 843 VQA wines. But
approval is no rubber stamp: 204 submissions were denied the right
to use the VQA label. The agency also conducted 137 audits - random
inspections to ensure compliance. Chardonnay remained top varietal,
but VQA shipments were down 21% because of crop shortages, especially
among the reds, thanks to the previous year's nasty winter. As
a result, the annual report stated, "no production trends can
be gleaned from this year's data." .
Ontario's finest Shiraz
Malivoire Winery, known for cool climate grapes like pinot noir,
chardonnay and gewurztraminer, has added Shiraz - Shiraz Mottiar,
that is. Malivoire's new winemaker took over the reins from six-year
veteran Anne Sperling in time for this year's crush. Sperling
stayed on as an advisor - "she has a lot of experience and the
picking date is probably the most important factor at harvest,"
said Mottiar. Mottiar, from Fergus, Ont., earned his promotion
after five years at Malivoire. "Honestly I have to credit my name
for getting me into the wine business," he said. "Friends would
say 'we had a bottle of you last night' when I was twenty, twenty
one. My family were not wine drinkers - Shiraz is a Persian name."
Mottiar is also among the first alumni of the CCOVI program at
Brock University: "The timing was bang on. I'd been considering
oenology at UC Davis or in Australia, but when I learned that
Brock had started a program I applied there."
Using grapes he grew himself on a Beamsville property he owns,
Mottiar released his first pinot gris at the Niagara Wine Festival
at the end of September. "I am very pleased with it - it was a
beautiful season last year." New French oak fermenters were introduced
for the pinot noir, but Malivoire has no plans to grow shiraz
according to Mottiar, who is not convinced of the viability of
the grape in Niagara: "There's only room for one Shiraz in this
region," he said.