Wines In Niagara

A local perspective

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Niagara Grape Harvest 2011 (Part X): Picking around the clock to bring in harvest after intense rains at Rosewood


Note: We are following the 2011 grape harvest through the writings of several Niagara insiders. This is the third post from William Roman at Rosewood Estate, and Part X in our series. Continue reading

The hidden gems (including a killer Tete de Cuvee Chardonnay) from Beamsville’s Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery


Terroir (I’ve already scared off a lot of you just by uttering that word, haven’t I?) is a wine term that’s overused, abused, mocked and denounced from here to Tasmania.

It has literally lost its meaning with a great many people and, as result, has been knocked down a few pegs to cliché status.

What does it even mean? Continue reading

Enjoying the beaches, food and (yes, even) the wines on Cape Cod


CAPE COD, Massachusetts — There are 895 kilometres of unspoiled coastline, breathtaking scenery at every turn, the best fried clams in the world, an endless array of gorgeous and natural beaches, spectacular accommodations surrounding 15 distinct towns up and down the coastline, seaside golf courses and warm ocean breezes no matter where you lay your head for the night.

Cape Cod, without question, is a desired destination for vacationers who want to relax, kick back in their flip-flops but also crave the finer things in life.

Travel Best Beaches

A beautiful beach in Cape Cod.

And often that includes local wine. Yes, even in the most unlikeliest of places, such as the sandy, low-mineral soils of the Cape, not exactly optimum conditions for growing grapes, you’ll find brave souls who have turned the impossible into the possible with hard work and ingenuity.

Cape Cod is situated at the southeast corner of Massachusetts, stretching 100 km from the Cape Cod Canal to Provincetown’s Race Point. The Cape is 32 km at its widest point and completely surrounded by water: Cape Cod Bay on the north, Buzzards Bay on the west, Vineyard and Nantucket Sounds on the south and Atlantic on the east.


It is rich in U.S. history, beginning with the landfall of the Mayflower in Provincetown in 1620. The homes of long-ago sea captains dot the historic Old King’s Highway, and historic lighthouses have lined the Cape shorelines for centuries. The John F. Kennedy Museum in Hyannis celebrates the life and times of President Kennedy and his family on Cape Cod. And, at the tip of the Cape, Provincetown proclaims its living history as an artist’s colony and fishing village.

At the core of Cape Cod, and what draws the throng of visitors each and every summer, are the 115 public beaches from the calm and refreshing Vineyard and Nantucket Sound beaches to the glorious, beautiful beaches of the Cape Cod National Seashore.


An abundance of oyster shacks on the Cape.

But it doesn’t hurt that the area has such a diverse mix of unforgettable restaurants and dining experiences, ranging from upscale elegant eateries and waterfront restaurants to old-fashioned Cape Cod clambakes and seafood shanties. It is famous for its fried clams (with the juicy bellies included) as well as lobster rolls and just-caught fresh fish and chips at places such as Spanky’s Clam Shack and Baxter’s Boathouse.

But combine your day at the beach, golf outing or dining with a visit to one or two of the wineries on the Cape, and you’ve added some quality time to your vacation.

cap code winery

The Cape Cod Winery, in East Falmouth, about 4 km inland from the ocean, is a pastoral and quaint facility with eight acres of vineyards planted to Pinot Grigio, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Vidal and Seyval.

The winery was founded by the Lazzari family in 1994 with the vineyards planted on an ideal site with sandy gravel soil and gentle slopes. The biggest challenges for the winery is the unpredictable rains and stifling humidity that can cause the grapes to rot during the summer months.

cape cod winery2

cape cod winery3

Seashells and compost have been added to the soil to provide the minerals needed to craft premium wines.

The production is geared toward wines that match up with the finest seafood and gourmet cuisine available on Cape Cod. Fresh whites and lighter reds are made from a mix of grapes grown at the estate or grapes brought in from other regions. The winery also uses fruits from Cape Cop, such as the famous local cranberries and beach plums, to blend into some of the wines.

The winery only makes about 2,000 cases of wine a year, with 80% of sales generated by people who walk into the adorable tasting room at the winery and the other 20% sold to local wine shops.

cape cod wines

Some of the wines I enjoyed during a tasting with James Edwards this summer include:

Cape Cod Winery Pinot Grigio 2010 ($17) — A tasty wine with melon, apple and pear notes along with a hint of spice.

Cape Cod Winery Nobska White 2010 ($14) — A blend of Seyval and Vidal that shows spritzy citrus and peach, a perfect match for fish and seafood.

Cape Cod Winery Nebska Cranberry Blush ($14) — The winery uses a neighbour’s cranberries in this blend with Seyval and Vidal. It’s delicious with cherry-cranberry flavours and plenty of fresh acidity.

Cape Cod Winery Beach Plum Chardonnay ($19 for 375 Ml) — A unique wine that blends Chardonnay with native New England beach plums. It shows wonderful sweet flavours of tropical fruit, pears and honey. A nice after dinner treat.

Cape Cod Merlot/Cab Franc 2008 ($19) — All from grapes grown at the estate and aged in oak for eight months. Flavours range from cherry and plums to blueberries, cassis and vanilla. Nice, smooth tannins.

Further up the Cape, towards the outer reaches of Provincetown, you will find Truro Vineyards in one the region’s most beautiful (and least populated) towns.

truro winery2

truro winery

truro barrel

Truro Vineyards has been owned and operated by the Roberts family, who dreamed of owning and operating a vineyard together for years, since 2007. The vineyards and winery have been in existence since 1992 but the house and the estate date back nearly two centuries. Built in 1813, the square dignified Federal house was part of a farm from its earliest beginnings.

sign at TruroThe gorgeous winery and tasting room is framed by a rare Chinese Mulberry tree that graces the property to the right of the front door and was brought to the cape by a ship’s captain around 1850. It has been carefully preserved and maintained.

The first wines were made in 1995 but, because it was unique for Cape Cod, and so far off the beaten track, only 12 cases of the 500 cases made were sold. “No one wanted local wines back then,” said Kristen Roberts during a tour of the property. The next few years were spent getting the name out there and attracting visitors to the property.

The original winery owners sold to the Roberts in 2007 and production has gone from 500 cases to 10,000 cases in 2010.

Six acres of vineyards are planted to Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc and Merlot with other grapes being brought in from California and New York State.

“Our goal is to make the best wines we can,” said Roberts, regardless if the grapes are grown on their property or brought in to blend with local grapes.

Some favourites from the tasting:

lighthouse wine

Truro Vineyards Estate Chardonnay 2009 ($25) — All the fruit is sourced from the estate. A lovely Chardonnay with creamy tropical fruit, vanilla notes and good acidity.

turo rickTruro Vineyards Triumph 2008 ($22) — A big blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc with plums, black cherry, strawberry, spice and chocolate notes.

Truro Vineyards Lighthouse Series Cranberry Red ($17) — The tourists snap this up at an alarming rate, not only because the bottle is shaped like a lighthouse, but also because it tastes so good. Sweet notes of cranberry and citrus but not overly sweet.

The wineries of Cape Cod may not be world beaters in terms of quality and availability, but they sure are worth the trip when visiting. The wines are well made and strolling the vineyards with the ocean breezes and salty sea air all around is a unique experience you won’t soon forget.

And bringing home wine in a lighthouse-shaped bottle? Priceless.



Sip & Savour Ontario party on Oct. 19. Who’s coming for the celebration of Ontario food and wine?

Note: Sip & Savour Ontario, a celebration of Ontario VQA wines and regional food is fast approaching. Here’s the release for the event which takes place Oct. 19 in Toronto.

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011 – With Ontario at the heart of Canada’s food and wine scene, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the plethora of food and wine events taking place in the province throughout the year.

After seven years in the running, sip & Savour Ontario has grown substantially and established itself as Toronto’s ultimate local wine and food experience, offering both the public and media an opportunity to savour and explore the excellence of Ontario food and VQA wine.

With sip & Savour Ontario taking place right in the midst of harvest season, there’s no better time or place to experience the excitement and show your support for the best of what our province has to offer!

This year, we will be showcasing 29 award-winning Ontario wineries that will be pouring and pairing their wines with a delectable selection of gourmet regionally prepared foods.

“We are very proud to be associated with Houselink,” notes Tony Aspler, wine writer and partner of sip & Savour Ontario. “The Ontario Wine Awards and sip & Savour Ontario share the same core values. This worthy enterprise is community- based, helping those who cannot help themselves. The wine community is by nature a sharing community, willing to assist those less fortunate than ourselves.”

Culinary offerings created by chefs from a selection of Ontario’s top restaurants, including; Globe Bistro, The Drake Hotel, The Old Mill Inn & Spa, Frank Restaurant / AGO, The Boiler House Restaurant and Longo’s.

An exciting addition to this year are three Ontario gourmet food trucks – El Gastronomo Vagabundo, Gorilla Cheese and Cupcake Diner – will be there serving up their culinary delights.

Guests are also invited to get up close and personal, and learn first hand how to prepare their own food and wine pairing at home, during the live culinary demonstrations taking place throughout the evening.

Also, participating sponsors, Dairy Farmers of Canada, The Stonemill Bakehouse Ltd., and Q water, will be on hand to proudly share with the crowd what products they have to offer.

Partnering with Houselink, this year’s event will feature a silent auction with all proceeds to benefit Houselink, which provides housing solutions and support for people living with mental illness and at risk of being homeless.

Our event will give you a taste of Ontario’s home-grown excellence and inspire you to help fund the continued enjoyment of Ontario’s finest foods and VQA wines for years to come!

• Wednesday, October 19, 2011

• 7:30 pm to 10:00 pm Steam Whistle Brewing, The Roundhouse 255 Bremner Blvd, Toronto

• For more information, and to purchase tickets, please visit sip & savour

Participating Chefs

• The Old Mill Inn & Spa – Chef Tim Dunnill

• Frank Restaurant / AGO – Chef Anne Yarymowich

• The Drake Hotel – Chef Anthony Rose

• Globe Bistro – Chef Kevin McKenna

• The Boiler House Restaurant – Chef Andre Walker

• Longo’s – Chef David Ashlee

Gourmet Food Trucks

• El Gastrónomo Vagabundo – Chef Adam Hynam-Smith

• Gorilla Cheese

• Cupcake Diner

Participating Ontario VQA Wineries

• Between the Lines Winery

• Casa Dea Estates Winery

• Château des Charmes

• Creekside Estate Winery

• Diamond Estates

• Exultet Estates

• Fielding Estate Winery

• Flat Rock Cellars

• Hinterbrook Estate Winery

• Huff Estates

Special Thanks To:

• Inniskillin

• Jackson Triggs

• Kacaba Vineyards

• Konzelmann Estate Winery

• Lailey Vineyard Wines

• Le Clos Jordanne

• Mike Weir Wine

• Nyarai Cellars

• Pelee Island Winery

• Peller Estates Winery

• Pillitteri Estates Winery

• Riverview Cellars Estate

• Winery Rosewood Estates Winery

• Sandbanks Estate Winery

• Southbrook Vineyards

• Stoney Ridge Estate Winery

• Tawse Winery

• Vineland Estates Winery

Wayne Gretzky Estate Winery

About Houselink

Houselink is a non-profit, charitable agency based in Toronto that provides supportive housing. They offer a range of housing options, individualized supports and community-based programs. Quality of life is at the heart of their mission. They believe people – even people with serious mental illness– know what’s best for them. All residents are members of Houselink, and participate in the life and the decisions of the organization. Houselink makes it possible for people struggling with extreme poverty, mental health and addiction issues to pursue recovery and build meaningful lives on their own terms. Their mission is to improve the quality of life of psychiatric consumers / survivors including those who are homeless or otherwise marginalized, through the provision of permanent affordable supportive housing and programs.

Tawse winemaker Paul Pender on ‘natural wines’ and how it fits in Niagara


We’re digging into a hearty harvest lunch of lasagna, garden salad and gooey butter tarts brought in by a caterer to feed the hungry crew at Tawse Vineyards.

A few bottles of Tawse wines are scattered around the table that comfortably seats 16 workers, 12 hired to work the harvest and four full-time winery staff. And there is a mystery bottle on the table wrapped in tinfoil. Small amounts are poured into each glass. We are asked to guess what it is and where it’s from based on taste and smell. Continue reading

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