First look at agenda for Tastecamp Niagara

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 an agenda (subject to change) developed with the co-operation of many wineries in Niagara.

Here are the highlights for TasteCamp Niagara 2011

The vineyards at Chateau Des Charmes.

TasteCamp Niagara Schedule

May 13-15, 2011

Friday (May 13) 12 :00pm – Lunch and Grand Tasting of Niagara-on-the-Lake wineries at Château des Charmes.

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 and/or other members of the family will talk about the beginnings of the Niagara region’s modern winemaking era and lead a tasting of estate wines. This will be followed by lunch and a walkaround tasting involving several NOTL wineries.

3 PM – Winery visit, Niagara-on-the-Lake

Hillebrand Estate Winery: A chance to catch up with one of Niagara’s most awarded winemakers, Craig McDonald, and taste through some fascinating wines. Three other wineries,StratusLailey and Thirty Bench will also be pouring at Hillebrand. This stop will begin with a wild ferment focused tasting and discussion led by Craig McDonald, followed by a free-flow tasting where TasteCamp participants can wander between each of the 4 winery stations.

5 PM – Settling in at the White Oaks Resort and Spa.

A block of rooms has been put aside. This is an excellent resort, centrally located in Niagara with a full gym and spa.

6:00 PM — Walk around tasting of InniskillinJackson Triggs and Le Clos Jordanne.

Icewine will be part of the focus of this event, being held in a special room at the hotel. Arranging for a special guest to talk about a bit about Niagara’s roots.

8 PM – Dinner at Ravine Estate Vineyards

Winemakers Ann Sperling (Southbrook Vineyards) and Peter Gamble (Ravine) will give a talk about the Niagara-on-the-Lake area of the Niagara region, where the focus is more on Bordeaux varieties. Both work organically and biodynamically, allowing them to provide an enlightening talk about the possibilities of organics in the Northeast, where many say it is “impossible” to do so.

Saturday (May 14)

Will have bus transportation for the day, sponsored by Ontario Wine Country.

8 AM — Board bus. Coffee and pastry on board.

8:30AM – 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.

10 AM — Board bus and head to Vineland Estate Winery

10:30 AM – Vineyard walk/winery visit, lunch and grand tasting at Vineland Estate
This visit will start with a tour of the famous St. Urban vineyard, one of the oldest in the region, followed by a tasting of St. Urban Riesling and other Vineland wines. Lunch will follow, buffet style, with a grand tasting focusing on wineries from the Bench area of the Niagara region.

2 PM — Back on the bus.

2:30 PM – Vineyard walk and tasting at Flat Rock Cellars

Flat Rock Cellars is one of the most progressive wineries in Niagara. It was first in the region to bottle the entire production in screwcap and has just launched its first crown-capped sparkling wine. Flat Rock has a solid portfolio and Ed Madronich, president of the winery and of the Wine Council of Ontario, will present more details about the region and Niagara wines in general.

4 PM —Bus back to the hotel

6 PM — Back on the bus for dinner

6 :30PM – BYO Dinner, Treadwell Farm to Table in Port Dalhousie.

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. This will allow us to keep the BYO tradition going. Corkage is being waved at Treadwell, and you can also get some of the finest Niagara wines here.

Sunday (May 15)

8:30 AM – Depart for the U.S. side of Niagara

10:00 am – Brunch and Grand Tasting of Niagara USA wineries at Carmelo’s Restaurant in historic Lewiston, NY.

Carmelo’s Restaurant is the most influential farm to table restaurants in Western New York. Chef Carmelo Raimondi is known for his locally inspired menus that build on traditional Italian culinary principles using fresh local ingredients while offering the best wines of the region.

1:00 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 2009 and 2010 vintages. Arrowhead Springis the only winery in Niagara USA region growing Syrah and Malbec.

2:15 pm – Freedom Run Winery

Visit one of the most unique tasting rooms in the country, as Freedom Run provide a tour of its production area and pour barrel samples of their 2010 vintage reds, including experiments with wild yeast fermentation and appasimento-style wines. With their first estate wines, Freedom Run has already received a 90-point Wine Spectator score for their 2007 Estate Cabernet and an 88-point Wine Spectator score for their 2007 Estate Pinot Noir.

“Want to participate in Tastecamp Niagara 2011?”

All participants must operate a wine blog or website dedicated to providing content on wine.
Please email a letter to Lenn Thompson indicating why you would like to be a participant at Tastecamp.
lenn [at]