Category Archives: News, Hot Off The Vine

News stories by Rick

One giant step toward free-flowing cross-border Canadian wine for consumers


Note: issued this press release today on MP Dan Albas’ private members bill that was introduced in parliament to enable to free flow of wine between provincial borders. Here is the release:, on behalf of wine lovers across Canada, congratulates Dan Albas, a new Member of Parliament (MP) representing BC’s Okanagan-Coquihalla riding, for tabling Private Members Bill - An Act to amend the Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (interprovincial importation of wine for personal use).

This bill will amend the 1928 statute, Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA) by providing for a personal exemption for the shipment of wine for personal consumption between provinces.  Most importantly, this exemption includes both personally accompanied wine and wine ordered by phone, online or through a wine club. is campaign of the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers – a grassroots, non-partisan, non-profit organization.  Established in November 2010, has worked to raise awareness of the need to amend the archaic 1928 law that makes it a criminal offense to Canadian citizens to ship alcohol between provinces.

The summer of 2011 saw a step forward with many provincial/territorial liquor boards stating that they allowed ‘importation’ of largely varying amounts of wine into their territory as long as it was personally accompanied. None, however, allow for any phone, online or wine club orders.

It’s time the law was brought into the 21st century.  This bill is a major step forward in our campaign to let Canadians buy more Canadian wine.

It is important that wine lovers across Canada write, email or phone their MPs to let them know they need to support this bill.  Sample letters and MP contact information can be found on our website at FreeMyGrapes.

For more information contact:

Shirley-Ann George, President, Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers

C: 613 293-8487

Dan Albas, Member of Parliament, Okanagan-Coquihalla

P: 613-995-1702

And a new Grape King is crowned in Ontario. His name his Ed Hughes


NOTE: The Grape Growers of Ontario named its Grape King for 2011. This is the press release has sent by the organization.

St. Catharines, ON (Tuesday, September 13, 2011):  RBC Royal Bank, Grape Growers of Ontario and the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival are pleased to announce that Ed Hughes (pictured above) of Hughes Vineyards in Beamsville has been named the 2011 Grape King. Continue reading

Taste the Season in Niagara-on-the-Lake touring passes now on sale


NOTE: The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake Taste the Season touring passes are on sale for the 11th annual fall event that takes place on weekends in November. Here are the details as sent in a press release:

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, ON (SEPTEMBER 13, 2011) Niagara-on-the-Lake wine country’s “must-do” event of the fall season has returned for the 11th year.

The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Taste the Season touring pass event returns the weekends of November 5/6, 12/13, 19/20 and 26/27.  From 11 am to 5 pm Taste the Season touring pass holders will be treated to seasonally inspired VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wine and food pairings.

Twenty-six wineries are participating in 2011.

homebig-graphics_tts“Taste the Season is our most popular touring pass event, celebrating the winding down of the busy harvest season,” said Roselyn Dyck-Cieszkowski, Taste the Season committee chair, “It is an ideal time for visitors to sample delicious and unique pairings, as well as explore wine and gift selections at each winery.”

Taste the Season touring passes are $44.25 per person (plus HST).  Each touring pass entitles the holder to a VQA wine and food pairing at each of the 26 member wineries and is valid for one of the featured weekends.

There are a limited number of touring passes available each weekend and typically sell out fast, so guests are encouraged to purchase early.

Touring passes can be purchased online here or by phoning the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce at 905.468.1950.

The 26 Taste the Season VQA wine and food pairings are seasonally inspired and made from mainly locally sourced ingredients.

Ravine Vineyard is pairing a 2010 Sand and Gravel Cabernet Franc alongside Lamb Confit with Caramalized Onions and Shropshire Blue.

The Ice House Winery is matching the 2009 Jamie’s New Signature Series Big Red Icewine with, “Poire Passion,” which is a creation of sliced pair rounds, crisp pancetta, Niagara Gold cheese and a Riesling Icewine reduction.

Stonechurch Vineyards is showcasing Smoked Salmon Bisque with a 2009 Riesling Reserve.

For a complete list of VQA wine and food pairings, visit the website here.

The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake are donating a portion of the Taste the Season touring pass proceeds to two local charities.  The Red Roof Retreat provides quality recreational, educational and respite services to children, youth and young adults with special needs, as well as their families.  The YWCA Niagara Region Women in Crisis Shelter supported close to 1,000 women and children last year through housing and shelter programs.  It provides over 35,000 nutritious meals and safety to women and children in crisis.

Taste the Season kicks-off Winter in Niagara-on-the-Lake Wine Country (Winter in Wine Country).  Winter in Wine Country spans over four months and each month features a unique event.  Taste the Season is offered in November and Stocking Days of Christmas is December’s featured event.

The Niagara-on-the-Lake Icewine Festival takes place in January and the Days of Wine & Chocolate touring pass event rounds off the campaign in February.

Every day the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake welcome guests into Wine Country to savour the richness of the region and to experience the 26 distinct wineries, each with its own personality reflected in the wines they craft.  The members of Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake are: Cattail Creek, Château des Charmes, Colaneri, Coyote’s Run, Hillebrand, Ice House, Inniskillin, Jackson Triggs, Joseph’s, Konzelmann, Lailey, Maleta, Marynissen, Niagara College, Palatine Hills, Peller Estates, Pillitteri, PondView, Ravine, Reif, Riverview, Southbrook, Stonechurch, Stratus, Strewn and Sunnybrook Farm.  Follow the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake on Twitter @NiagaraWine.


Eight Niagara wineries join for The Pinot Affair, a weekend of love for the heartbreak grape


NOTE: The Pinot Affair features eight Niagara wineries with eight different events that all crushing on one deliciously seductive grape over two days on Oct. 15-16. Here is what you need to know:

Are you ready for a torrid love affair?

Pinot AffairTo most people, it seems crazy, but Pinot Noir lovers understand. Theirs is a passionate affair that seems to defy reason. Continue reading

Brock’s CCOVI to monitor grape ripening in Niagara and post weekly results for wineries

NOTE: Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology  and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is bringing back its preharvest monitoring service back for 2011 season. Here is the press release from CCOVI:

With harvest season around the corner, a popular preharvest monitoring service for Niagara grape growers is once again going online to tell the story of this year’s crop.

Building on the success of last year’s program, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) together with the Grape Growers of Ontario are once again busy tracking the progress of this season’s wine grape ripening.

Over the coming weeks, CCOVI viticulturist Jim Willwerth will co-ordinate ongoing grape sampling and analysis at four locations in Niagara. He will track key indicators of fruit ripeness to help assess the variation in ripening across the region.

Researchers at CCOVI understand the importance of up-to-date information on grape development across different sectors of Niagara to meet the needs of grape growers and winemakers. Grapes mature uniquely depending on the year, variety and terroir. As a result, preharvest monitoring data is crucial for the industry to determine the best times to harvest in terms of grape and wine quality.

Willwerth will sample four of the region’s most common vinifera wine grape varieties (Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon) at four separate vineyards — two on each side of the Welland Canal.

Linda Tremblay, lead technologist in the analytical lab at CCOVI, will test samples for sugar, pH, titrable acidity and volatile acidity. CCOVI technician Lynda vanZuiden will also assist in the lab to help handle the additional processing volume for this year’s program.

Monitoring results will be reported weekly on CCOVI’s website.

They will also be available on OMAFRA’s website.

Program data will also feed into a database CCOVI is developing for year-to-year comparisons in support of research it is conducting on the impact of climate change on Ontario’s grape and wine industry.

“This service allows for important preharvest data to be shared among grape growers and winemakers in Niagara,” says Debbie Inglis, director, CCOVI. “This is a shining example of how our Institute is working together with growers and wineries to meet their needs.”

Willwerth was hired last summer to help CCOVI support grape growers and winemakers with applied research and outreach focused on priorities identified by the industry. The CCOVI Analytical Services lab opened its doors in March 2010.

This initiative was part of a project supported by a $1.4 million investment under Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada’s Developing Innovative Agri-Products program, which supports industry-led research and innovation and is part of CCOVI’s heightened emphasis on outreach to the grape and wine industry.

For more info: Jennifer Roberts, Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x4949;