John Hall, master distiller at Forty Creek.

Forty Creek’s whisky revolution

Note: This article originally was published at Traveling Golfer.

By Rick VanSickle

He enters the tasting room at Kittling Ridge in his trademark suede vest, shirt and jeans. It’s a look not out of place at any old Friday night rodeo. But this is no rodeo. And John Hall is no cowboy.

John Hall, master distiller at Forty Creek.

He’s the owner of Kittling Ridge Estate Winery and Spirits, and one of the hottest whisky distillers on the planet. And he’s putting Canada’s reputation as a quality whisky producer back into the hands of its rightful owners. Continue reading


On the wine bottling line at Hidden Bench

Growing the grapes, deciding when to pick them and how to make them is only part of the thrill in the winemaking process. Once you have all the juice, you’ve got to put it somewhere. That’s where the bottling line comes in. I was invited by Hidden Bench assistant winemaker Jay Johnston to come on out to the winery for bottling day. Hidden Bench uses a mobile bottling line called Hunter Bottling out of Fenwick, Ont., one of two mobile units operating in Niagara. Here’s a slideshow of all the fun.

Untitled from Rick VanSickle on Vimeo.


Treadwell, Southbrook team up for bistro pizza

Good news for food and wine lovers in Niagara.

Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine, the critically acclaimed and popular waterfront Port Dalhousie eatery, is teaming up with Southbrook Vineyards to provide bistro pizza at the Niagara-on-the-Lake winery. Continue reading

Join us for a few virtual #tinybubbles Saturday

Tiny bubbles
In the wine
Make me happy
Make me feel fine

Crooner Don Ho may be long forgotten, but his lyrics will always live on in every sip we take from the greatest of all celebratory wines — Champagne.

We sip it to celebrate job promotions, a new babies, warm welcomes with friends, as an aperitif or pair it with seafood, foie gras or fresh fruit. It is versatile, seductive, sexy and we simply do not enjoy enough of this wonderful wine.

In Canada — from Nova Scotia to B.C., from Niagara to Prince Edward County to Lake Erie North Shore — bubbly is a good idea for any winery’s portfolio. And though we can’t call it Champagne outside of Champagne, it’s generally made in the same style but often with a lot of interesting twists.

Nova Scotia bubbles

The only grapes allowed in Champagne are chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, and while Canadian wineries often use those same grapes, there is much more diversity in our styles. From sparkling gewurztraminer and riesling (even sauvignon blanc) to styles made with a shot of icewine, we’ll explore them all — sweet, dry and rose — as we sip good old tiny bubbles Canadian style.

This is the fourth in our series of Twitter Twastings, following up from 2002 cab-merlot, pinot gris and viognier. But we think you’ll agree, this is our liveliest tasting yet!

Join us on Twitter using the hashtag #tinybubbles beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 2, and see if you agree with our assessments. Here are the wines we’ll be tasting at Canoe. Grab a bottle and join in!

• 13th Street Cuvee Rose NV
• Lacadie Vineyards Prestige Brut (TM) 2007 (Nova Scotia)
• Lacadie Vineyards Organic Cider 2008
• Chateau des Charmes Estate Bottled Brut NV
• Chateau des Charmes 2008 Rose
• Sumac Ridge Sparkling Rose NV (Oka)
• Jackson Triggs Methode Classique 2006 (Ont.)
• Sumac Ridge Sparkling Gewurztraminer NV (Oka)
• See Ya Later Ranch SYL Brut NV (Oka)
• Sumac Ridge Steller’s Jay Brut 2006 Methode Classique (Oka)
• Vineland Estate Riesling 2008
• Hinterland Rose 2008 (PEC)
• Konzelmann Sparkling Rose
• Cave Spring Blanc De Blanc
• Henry of Pelham Catharine Rose
• Benjamin Bridge Blanc de Noirs2004 (Nova Scotia)
• Benjamin Bridge Brut Reserve 2004 (Nova Scotia)
• Summerhill Cipes Rose Pinot Noir (BC)
• Summerhill Cipes Vintage 2008 (BC)
• Rocky Creek Winery Katherine’s Sparkle 2009 (Vancouver Island)
• Blue Mountain Brut NV (BC)
• Fielding Estate Riesling Brut (ont)
• Magnotta Classic Vidal 2008 (Ont)
• Magnotta Brut 2009 (Ont)