TasteCamp in Niagara is fast approaching. An international group of bloggers will invade Niagara wine country, on both sides of the border, to learn all they can about the wines made in our region. The date’s been set, hotel rooms put aside at White Oaks Resort and Spa and the final agenda for the weekend, from May 13 to May 15 has been developed with the co-operation of many wineries in Niagara.
Friday (May 13)
12:00 Sharp – Lunch and Grand Tasting of Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries
Location: Château des Charmes. Will introduce group to Wine Country Ontario and Ed Madronich, chair of the WCO, will be on hand for a few words. Lunch and a structured tasting of Chateau des Charmes wines will take place followed by a grand tasting of NOTL wineries.
Château des Charmes is one of the oldest wineries in Niagara, and the first one to plant entirely with vinifera in the late 70s. Paul Bosc, the estate’s founder, or other members of the family, will talk about the beginnings of the Niagara region’s modern winemaking era and lead a tasting before lunch and a walkaround tasting involving several NOTL wineries. Lunch is sponsored by Spencer’s at the Waterfront. Chef Andrew McLeod will serve a three-course light lunch between the Chateau des Chames tasting and the grand tasting.
Chateau Des Charmes
Spencer’s at the waterfront
Wineries pouring at the grand tasting include:
Frogpond Farm Organic Winery
Coyote’s Run Estate Winery
Pondview Estate Winery
Mike Weir Wine
Niagara College Teaching Winery
Konzelmann Estate Winery
3 PM – Winery visit
Hillebrand Estate Winery: A chance to catch up with one of Niagara’s most awarded winemakers, Craig McDonald, and taste through some of his wines. Stratus Wine and Lailey Vineyard will be at Hillebrand as well as Thirty Bench Wine Makers. This will include a wild ferment focus for the first 45-50 minutes led by Craig and then a free-flow tasting where the TasteCamp participants can wander between each of the 4 winery stations, which we will set-up on both levels of the Winemaker’s Lookout (the 2 tier open sided structure close to the restaurant).
Hillebrand Estate Winery
Twitter: @1met and @HillebrandEM
Thirty Bench Wine Makers
Leave for hotel at 4:30 p.m.
5 PM – Settling in at the White Oaks Resort and Spa.
6 PM (At White Oaks Resort in Studio 4, 5, 6) — Wine tasting with Inniskillin, Jackson Triggs and Le Clos Jordanne in a special studio room, sponsored by White Oaks. There will also be Ontario cheeses served at this event, sponsored by Vincor. Winemakers in attendance will be Bruce Nicholson (Inniskillin), Seb Jacquey (Le Clos) and Amy Bond (J-T). Del Rollo will introduce each winemaker and there will be six wines at each table to taste.
Twitter: @delrollo and @jacksontriggsON
Le Clos Jordanne
7:40 PM — Board double decker bus for Ravine.
Note: Wine Country Ontario is sponsoring a double decker bus for transport between White Oaks and Ravine. Pickup will be at 7:40 p.m. (they are there 15 min early for loading) and they will drop off at Ravine for 8 p.m. dinner. Then …we will have the bus for essentially until 10:30 p.m. pick up at Ravine to return people back to White Oaks. During this time, if anyone wants to go back earlier the bus can make a few trips should anyone be tired.8 PM – Dinner at Ravine ($25 per person, includes tip and gratuity) with Southbrook in attendance.
Both Ann Sperling (Southbrook) and Peter Gamble (Ravine) will talk about growing and making wines in Niagara-on-the-Lake, where the focus is more on Bordeaux varieties. Winemakers from Southbrook and Ravine also farm organically and biodynamically, and could provide a good talk about the possibilities of working organically in the Northeast, where many say it is “impossible” to do so.
Saturday (May 14)
Transportation for the day is provided from a sponsorship from Wine Country Ontario.
8 AM — Board bus for Vineland. Breakfast on Bus
8:30 AM – Vineyard walk and terroir tasting at Tawse Estate Winery
The idea here is to show some of the detailed work on their various vineyards and blocks to showcase the differences between the cuvées they draw from these blocks. Tawse has an extremely focused portfolio of organic and biodynamic vineyard-specific wines. Winemaker Paul Pender is a wonderful speaker and can demonstrate the differences in terroir.
Tawse Estate Winery
and @tawse_winery and @danielattawse
10 AM — Board bus and head to Vineland Estate Winery (a short ride)
10:30 AM – Vineyard walk at Vineland Estate of the famous St. Urban vineyard followed by a tasting of St. Urban Riesling and other VEW wines. A box lunch will follow (generously provided by Vineland Estates) leading into grand tasting.
Wineries pouring at the grand tasting at Vineland:
Vineland Estate Winery
Hidden Bench Winery
Twitter: @hiddenbench and @brightlighter1
Fielding Estate Winery
Twitter: @Fieldingwinery and @richiewine
GreenLane Estate Winery
Peninsula Ridge Winery
Angels Gate Winery
13th Street Winery
The Good Earth Winery
Twitter: @goodearthtweets and @GoodEarthGlass
Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery
Cave Spring Cellars
2 PM — Back on the bus.
2:30 PM – Flat Rock Cellars visit.
Flat Rock Cellars is one of the most progressive wineries in Niagara. It was first to bottle its entire production in screwcaps, it launched the first crown capped sparkling wine and just now has released the region’s first “white” pinot noir. Flat Rock has an interesting portfolio and Ed’s a knowledgeable speaker on Niagara wines in general.
Flat Rock Cellars
Twitter: @winemakersboots and @rossontherock
4 PM — Back on the bus for the short rest and cleanup at hotel
6 PM — Back on the bus for dinner
6 :30 PM – BYOW Dinner
Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine in Port Dalhousie ($65 per person, plus taxes/gratuities).
There is an allowance of two bottles of wine per adult at the Canadian border, without taxes, so bringing wine from the US is not an issue here. The corkage is being waved at Treadwell, but you can certainly get some of the finest Niagara wines here.
Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine
Sunday (May 15)
Tastecamp Niagara USA Agenda
10 AM – Brunch and Grand Tasting of Niagara USA wineries at Carmelo’s Restaurant in historic Lewiston, NY.
Carmelo’s Restaurant is hands down the most influential farm to table restaurants in Western New York. Chef Carmelo Raimondi is known for his spontaneous locally inspired menus that build on traditional Italian culinary principals using fresh local ingredients while offering the best wines of the region. Brunch will be served family style after wine tasting.
1 PM — Arrowhead Spring Vineyards & Winery: Duncan and Robin Ross will walk you through their vineyard where they practice sustainable viticulture and pour barrel samples from the 2010 vintage. The tasting will focus primarily on the full bodied reds of Syrah, Malbec, Cab Franc and Cab Sauvignon.
2:15 PM — Freedom Run Winery: Visit one of the most unique tasting rooms in the country as Cellarmaster Kurt Guba will provide an intense tasting of barrel samples focusing it’s three vineyard blocks of pinot noir, their Bordeaux reds and appasimento-style wines. Winemaker Jonathan Oakes will pour samples from both Schulze Vineyards & Winery and Leonard Oakes Estate Winery. As he discusses the similarities in the two Niagara’s as well as talk about the terroir of the soils north of the escarpment.
New York wineries pouring at Grand Tasting:
Arrowhead Spring Vineyards
Black Willow Winery
Chateau Niagara Winery
Freedom Run Winery
Leonard Oakes Estate Winery
Niagara Landing Wine Cellars
Schulze Vineyards & Winery
Spring Lake Winery
Victorianbourg Estate Winery
Vizcarra Vineyards at Becker Farms
• Wine Country Ontario is the main sponsor for TasteCamp in Niagara, Ontario. It is providing transportation to dinner at Ravine on Friday and all day Saturday, including to the dinner at Treadwell’s. It has also provided invaluable support with logistics and organizing the wineries for the two grand tastings. A special thanks goes out to Magdalena Kaiser-Smit, public relations manager for the Wine Country Ontario, who has helped the TasteCamp team from the very beginning, and Ed Mondronich, chair of the organization, whose enthusiasm for TasteCamp has been overwhelming.
Wine Country Ontario
Twitter: @WineCountryOnt and @mkaisersmit and @winemakersboots
• White Oaks Resort and Spa is the main hotel of tastecamp attendees. A block of rooms has been put aside at a significantly reduced rate of $159 and the $12 facility fee has been waived. This is an excellent resort, centrally located in Niagara with a full gym and spa.
• Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine is one of Niagara’s finest locally-sourced restaurants in Niagara. The Treadwell’s is putting on a special dinner for TasteCamp attendess Saturday night at a cost of $65 per person plus taxes and gratuities. This is the traditional TasteCamp BYOW dinner.
Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine
• Carmelo’s Restaurant is hosting a brunch on Sunday that will also feature a tasting of New York wines from Niagara.
• Spencer’s at the Waterfront: Sitting above the shore, Spencer’s at the Waterfront offers breathtaking, panoramic views of Burlington Bay and Lake Ontario. The room—warm, welcoming, and relaxing, in natural wood and earth tones—boasts floor-to-ceiling windows throughout. Enjoy blue skies and sparkling water by day or a spectacular moonrise with the lights across the lake by night.
TasteCamp organizers would also like to thank Chateau des Charmes and Vineland Estate for hosting the grand tastings. And another thank-you to Vineland Estate’s Brian Schmidt for providing lunch at the winery on Saturday. Also a big thanks to all the wineries (on both sides of the border) which are pouring at the grand tastings.
As well, our thanks go out to Hillebrand (Peller Estates, Thirty Bench), Vincor (Inniskillin, Jackson-Triggs, Le Clos Jordanne), Flat Rock, Tawse, Ravine, Lailey, Stratus, Southbrook (in Niagara Canada) and Freedom Run and Arrowhead Spring (on the American side) for hosting events (or participating at events) and taking the time to show your wines. We appreciate it!
Organizers for Tastecamp
New York Cork Report
Wines In Niagara
The Wine Case
Water Into Wino