Pardon me if my eyes wander while I taste through the entire portfolio of Redstone wines with Paul Pender, pictured above. But the interior view at the new Beamsville winery is so damn beautiful it’s impossible to focus on anything else.
Striking, high-beamed ceilings with dark-wood finish, a perfect wall made of red stones that dissects the winery and property from King Street (Old Highway 8) through the tasting rooms and dining room, modern embellishments, from the subtle hi-tech lighting to the Enomatic wine dispensers, that are in stark contrast to the natural theme of wood and stone.
It is a marvel to look at, and Redstone owner Moray Tawse, who also owns Tawse Winery just down the road, has cut no corners in the design and building of this newest Niagara jewel that has just opened with the tasting and retail rooms and will start dishing out meals in the new restaurant in the next couple of weeks.
It is simply stunning from the moment you stand before the well-appointed entrance and open the doors to the main tasting-retail facility, through to the “inner” second tasting room and into the restaurant (with room for 80 diners and was still being worked on during my tour), which will serve seasonally-inspired meals.
On top of all that, there is a private dining area with a spectacular long table and private outdoor stone patio, a massive outdoor patio that can seat up to 150 people, built in tiers that looks out onto the vineyard. On the edge of the patio is an area set aside for musicians to serenade diners as they chow down on the day’s chef choices.
Plans have been approved for an amphitheatre to be constructed in an area beyond the deck and carved into the vineyard.
The restaurant is fully-stocked with all the best modern equipment money can buy, but what caught my eye was the Enomatic wine system that will not only dispense Redstone and Tawse wines, but also offerings from Tawse’s Burgundy projects Marchand-Tawse and Domaine Tawse.
“You can come here and drink Grand Cru Chardonnay and Pinot,” Pender tells me, with a sparkle in his eye. Wow.
There is also a state-of-the-art tap system where you can order from three wines on tap and three local beers that will be brought in on a rotating basis. That’s on top of the 16 wines that will be part of Enomatic system.
You will not go home thirsty after a visit to the new Redstone facility.
Tawse purchased the Lincoln Lakeshore property, formerly the Thomas and Vaughan Estate Winery, in 2009, maintaining that it was an opportunity to explore a different terroir that he simply couldn’t pass up.
The photos below show some of the construction of Redstone. These photos, except the top one taken by me a year ago, were shot by the builder De Angelis Construction Inc.
Inspired by the red dust, which covered everything, including his boots, the first time he strolled the vineyard, he named the new winery Redstone, for its intense red-clay soil and large stones.
The 38-acre estate vineyard, farmed organically and biodynamically, is ideal for maturing late-ripening varietals including Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. There is also Pinot Gris on the property. Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, and Chardonnay from the recently acquired Limestone vineyard will round out the estate portfolio. For the most part, Redstone is Tawse’s “Bordeaux” project, while his namesake winery is his “Burgundy” project.
Rene Van Ede, right, is the winemaker at Redstone and works closely with Tawse winemaker Pender.
The restaurant will showcase the seasonally and locally inspired cuisine of Chef David Sider.
The “philosophy is to create a cuisine centred on honesty, freshness and an unwavering commitment to our region.”
The winery says it will “strive to capture the seasons within the seasons, no matter how short, to create an experience based upon a ‘sense of place,’ that can only exist because of where we are.”
The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and will be available for group bookings and private functions.
Sider, right, is a Vineland native, who travelled extensively at a young age. He credits this exposure to different world cuisines for spurring his interest in food. It is not until he took his first job as a dishwasher in a restaurant in 2004 however, that he realized that this budding interest would lead to a passion and eventually a career as a chef.
In 2007, Sider left the region to train in great kitchens such as Splendido in Toronto and Langdon Hall in Cambridge, further honing his skills with stages at Michelin-starred restaurants In De Wulf in Belgium and Le Gavroche in London. The experience he gained under the mentorship of notorious chefs such as David Lee and Jonathan Gushue, earned him the title of Restaurant Chef at the Wickaninnish Inn Relais & Chateaux in Tofino, B.C. where he spent 2 years.
He is thrilled to come back home to take the helm of The Restaurant at Redstone in his native Vineland: “You need to be excited not only about the food you cook but also where you are cooking it,” he says. “And there is no area that I feel more passionately about than Niagara.”
Here’s what I liked from the new releases at Redstone. All but the Viognier, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer have been tasted and reviewed previously but I have updated the notes in each review and, in some cases, adjusted the scores up or down to reflect how they are tasting now. It should be noted that Redstone held on to the 2010 Bordeaux-style reds for the opening, and they are drinking remarkably well.
Redstone Sparking Wine 2011 ($25, 88 points) — A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir sourced from various Niagara vineyards and made in the traditional method and aged 18 months on the lees. The nose shows baked apple, melon and citrus notes. It has lovely texture on the palate and is built in a richer, rounder style with creamy melon, lemon tart, stone fruit and a fine vigorous mousse.
Redstone Viognier 2013 ($20, 90 points) — Well, if you were a fan of Alvento Winery’s Viognier, when Bruno Moos was the owner and winemaker, you may want to grab some of this. It is the last of Viognier crop from Alvento. Sadly, the vines did not make it through the bad winter of 2014. Redstone purchased the final harvest from that vineyard and crafted this unoaked style of Vio. It has lovely aromatics of melon, apricot, kiwi and mango. It is made in a clean, crisp style with tropical fruit flavours, pineapple and citrus fruit that shows vibrancy right through the finish.
Redstone Gewurztraminer 2013 ($22, 89 points) — A lovely expression of this exotic grape from the Twenty Mile Bench. Look for spicy grapefruit, lychee, pear and ginger notes on the nose. There’s some viscosity on the palate with rich grapefruit and citrus fruit to go with sweet spices, ginger and nutmeg.
Redstone Sauvignon Blanc 2013 ($23, 88 points) — This is the first single-vineyard release from the estate’s Limestone vineyard on the Twenty Mile Bench. It has a showy nose gooseberry, melon, pear, citrus and grapefruit. It’s bright and crisp on the palate with fresh citrus and kiwi fruit.
Redstone Limestone Vineyard South Riesling 2012 ($19, 89 points) — From the estate’s Limestone Vineyard South on the Twenty Mile Bench. The fruit from the Riesling in this vineyard is split between north and south with half going to Tawse and half going to Redstone. The nose shows penetrating notes of lime, grapefruit, quince and a lovely floral note. It’s round and succulent on the palate with honey-kissed grapefruit and lemon-lime flavours that find balance from the acidity.
Redstone Chardonnay 2011 ($32, 90 points) — This Chard, a blend of individually-fermented lots sourced from Beamsville Bench vineyards, was made using wild fermentation and aged for 12 months in French oak. The nose shows pear, citrus, juicy apple, stylish oak spice and subtle minerality. Pear-apple fruit and balancing spice dominate on the palate of this elegant and juicy Chard.
Redstone Chardonnay Reserve 2011 ($39, 91 points) — From the highest quality fruit from the best Beamsville Bench sites, this top Chardonnay from the estate displays an expressive nose of poached pear, lilacs, ripe apple, citrus and toasted oak spices. Lovely finesse on the palate with a range of flavours that gain intensity through the finish. Fine oak spices and minerality add to the pleasure of this wine.
Redstone Reserve Cabernet Franc 2010 ($30, 90 points) — From sourced fruit in the Lincoln Lakeshore sub-app, the nose shows cherry, currants, mulled herbs, sweet tobacco, cedar and peppery notes. It gets really interesting on the palate with red and dark fruits working in tandem with fine herbs, tobacco, smoke and licorice. A very interesting CF with plenty of tannin and oak structure and length through the finish.
Redstone Merlot Redstone Vineyard 2010 ($40, 91 points) — “This is the wine that really defines Redstone,” said Rene Van Ede when I originally tasted it over a year ago. Said Paul Pender at my most recent tasting: “There is something quite magical here with the Bordeaux reds.” The vineyard, planted in the late 90s, is named for its heavy red clay soil and large stones. It’s farmed organically and biodynamically and is suited for maturing late-ripening varietals such as Merlot. It has a beautiful nose of black cherry, bramble, raspberry, violets and gorgeous spice notes. In the mouth there is no doubt this is a big and meaty Merlot with fine tannins and structure to go with plums, cherries, earth, bramble and an array of savoury spice notes. Just now starting to come into its own, but can be cellared further.
Redstone Syrah Redstone Vineyard Syrah 2010 ($40, 91 points) — Grapes come from the original Thomas and Vaughan Vineyard (now the Redstone estate) planted in 1998. Such a beautiful nose of peppery red fruits, earth, bramble, cassis, tobacco and spice. This is heady stuff on the palate, a gorgeously built Syrah with red and dark fruits, cracked black pepper, graphite, cedar and lavish spice notes that adds plenty of length through the finish.
Redstone Meritage 2010 ($40, 90 points) — The blend was assembled from equal parts Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the Redstone Vineyard and Cabernet Franc from the mature vines of the Van Bers Vineyard. The nose displays rich red fruits, spice, plums, black currants and blackberries. It is textured and lush on the palate with some smoky-meaty notes and earthiness to go with dark, ripe fruits, wonderful spice and firm tannins.