Joseph Di Profio has survived being a teacher, an administrator and very nearly eased his way into a happy retirement in a Mexico, but this weekend he and his family realize one his biggest dreams — opening the doors to his own Niagara winery.
Di Profio Wines welcomes visitors to the brand new winery and tasting room Saturday and Sunday in Jordan Station to share in the moment of Niagara’s newest winery.
Di Profio, his partner Carollynn Desjardins and their son, winemaker Fred Di Profio (the other son, Joe, had to fly back to Halifax this week after working on the finishing touches at the winery the past couple of weeks) will be on hand to help curious wine lovers discover a brand new portfolio of wines and show off the new digs.
Di Profio has worked tirelessly on the new winery for the past year. He has restored what was once a neglected vineyard into a producing vineyard and has converted a gorgeous estate home into a bed and breakfast with help from Desjardins.
Di Profio bought the property that included 12 acres of vines that were in such poor shape they were advised to tear it all out and start over.
“It was like a jungle,” said Di Profio during a visit last year.
He wasn’t about to start over. He replaced 4,300 plants, nurtured the other vines back to health and now has a viable crop of Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Sauvignon Blanc, Vidal (all from the original plantings) and Riesling, Pinot Gris and Merlot (from the new plantings).
Di Profio has increased his portfolio from his debut wines — a 2010 Vidal icewine and a 2010 Sauvignon Blanc. For sale on Saturday will be a Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Rose and Gamay from the 2011 vintage as well as a Cabernet Sauvignon from 2010 and a late harvest Vidal from 2011.
The new winery, well documented here on the winery website, and tasting room has a beautiful view into the vineyards from the tasting room with a full gravity-fed winery to minimize damage to the grapes and provide a gentle approach to making wine.
Di Profio, shown in the photo above, plans to produce only about 2,500 to 3,000 cases of wine per year. Modest by most standards, but pretty impressive considering Di Profio is in the midst of his retirement.
Here’s what to expect if you plan on visiting the winery (Note: Steve Byfield’s Nyarai wines are also available in the tasting room):
Di Profio Riesling 2011 ($16, winery, 88 points) — A refreshing nose of citrus zest, peach, quince and minerals. Very likeable on the palate with a zingy rush of citrus and subtle mineral notes that build through the finish.
Di Profio Wines Sauvignon Blanc 2011 ($17, winery, 87 points) – Di Profio followed up his classically styled debut Sauvignon Blanc with a similar wine here. Notes of gooseberry, fresh lime, grapefruit and herbaceous aromas are all carried to the palate with a decent core of vibrant acidity.
Di Profio Rose 2011 ($15, winery, 89 points) — Really fine, expressive rose made entirely from Gamay. The nose shows cherry, strawberry and touches of red plum and savoury fruit. It’s clean and refreshing on the palate with wonderful depth of fruit.
Di Profio Gamay Noir 2011 ($17, winery, 88 points) — A nose of lovely savoury raspberry-cherry fruit, smoky cedar and a nice squirt of cassis. I love the blueberry, raspberry, strawberry and spice notes on the palate to go with ripe tannins and racy acidity. Not overpowering, but not subtle either. Just a well-balanced, juicy Gamay.
Di Profio Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 ($20, winery, 90 points) — Cab Sauv is the largest planting on the property and Di Profio caught a break by debuting the fruit from the warm 2010 vintage. It shows bright, ripe blackberry, some red fruits and spice on the nose. This is serious stuff on the palate with ripe tannins, blackberry-currant fruit, toasted vanilla and oak spices. Can put some of this in your cellar for three or four years to watch how it develops.