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Ontario wine wire: Grape prices rise, legislature picks VQA wines, Cuvée 2020 date announced

By Rick VanSickle

With the snow flying in Ontario, the majority of wineries have harvested the last of their grapes, leaving just the latest ripening fruit (and icewine grapes) out there to achieve maximum Brix.

It was (and continues to be) one wild ride for #Harvest2019, and Wines In Niagara will endeavor to post a full report on the outlook for the 2019 wines after all the grapes have been harvested and are nicely tucked into barrels and tanks.

Ontario wine

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I took one last look at the harvest last week with a stop at Domaine Queylus where winemaker Kelly Mason, above, and her harvest crew were crushing the last of the bounty — some fine looking Cabernet Franc that completed the haul for 2019. Queylus focuses on Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but has a few varietal reds and blends (Merlot and Cabernet Franc) in the portfolio. As you can see by these photos, things get a little crazy at the end of harvest.

Also in this Ontario Wine report: Queen’s Park legislators pick their Ontario the official Ontario wines of the legislative assembly for 2020, grapes prices in Ontario on the rise, and an early look at Cuvée 2020.

Legislature picks Vineand
and Three Dog wines

The Grape Growers of Ontario with the speaker of the legislature and MPP for Wellington-Halton Hills, Ted Arnott, hosted the 41st annual wine tasting event at Queen’s Park on Oct. 30. Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario, and CEO Debbie Zimmerman announced that the following have been chosen as the official wines of Ontario’s Legislative Assembly for 2020:

Red Wine: Three Dog Winery 2017 Dog House Red
White Wine: Vineland Estates Winery 2017 Unoaked Chardonnay

“The Grape Growers of Ontario thank speaker Arnott and appreciate the members of the provincial parliament for their continuing support as we celebrate 100% grown in Ontario wines and choose the official VQA wines of the Legislative Assembly for the coming year,” said Oppenlaender. “The Grape Growers of Ontario look forward to continuing to work with the government of Ontario to develop a transition framework and action plan as a more modernized retail system is considered.”

L to R: Hon. Ted Arnott, Speaker; John Squair, Owner, Three Dog Winery

“The wines showcased at this event reflect the connection between 100% Ontario grown grapes and the winemakers who craft them. We congratulate all of Ontario’s wineries on producing top-quality VQA wines, and thank the six wineries who participated in this year’s tasting,” said Debbie Zimmerman, CEO.

“We are truly honoured to have our Unoaked Chardonnay selected for this prestigious listing, and are grateful to the Ontario Legislature for supporting 100% Ontario grown wines.” Allan Schmidt, president, Vineland Estates Winer.

“The three rescue dogs and team at Three Dog Winery are very proud and honoured to have our wine selected by the Ontario Legislature to be their house red.” Said Sacha and John Squair, owners, Three Dog Winery.

L to R: Al Dupuis, Vineland Estates Winery LCBO Sales Manager; Hon. Ted Arnott, Speaker; Allan Schmidt, President, Vineland Estates Winery

Members of Provincial Parliament gathered to select the Legislative Assembly of Ontario’s official VQA wines to be served at legislative functions throughout 2020. Participants tasted and marked their preferences on a voting ballot to determine which wines would be selected from six Ontario VQA wineries.

2019 grape prices rise 2.8%

The 2019 grape price negotiations were forwarded to final offer arbitration. On October 31, the Grape Growers of Ontario received the decision from the arbitrator who ruled in favour of the Grape Growers of Ontario’s final offer with an overall grape price increase of 2.8%. The 2019 grape prices are as follows:

Cuvée 2020 celebrates the 
best in Ontario VQA wine

Mark your calendars for one of the most sought-after wine events of the year – the annual Cuvée Grand Tasting has been set for Saturday, April 25, 2020.

The event, which serves as the largest celebration of VQA wine of its kind, will be held at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls and will feature more than 100 wine selections from Ontario’s top winemakers.

Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Cuvée is a weekend-long celebration of Ontario VQA wine and local cuisine from chefs from across the region.

“Cuvée not only celebrates excellence in our industry, it also supports the next generation of winemakers and grape growers by funding valuable research and providing scholarships to students through the Cuvée Legacy Fund,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis.

Cuvée 2020 will see the return of the popular “Winemakers’ Favourite Wines” feature, along with gourmet food delicacies prepared by celebrated chefs at live cooking stations. At the Après Cuvée party, guests can look forward to live music and selections from micro-breweries, cideries and VQA wineries.

Cuvée Manager Barb Tatarnic said the 2019 event drew a record crowd to the Grand Tasting event, with nearly 900 guests in attendance.

“This is the largest event of its kind,” said Tatarnic. “The strong turnout of guests year after year truly showcases the importance of our grape and wine industry and the strong level of support it garners from our local community and beyond.”

During the weekend-long event, the Cuvée en Route passport program allows ticket holders access to exclusive tasting flights at more than 30 Niagara wineries from April 24 to 26.

Passports are included with the Grand Tasting or can also be purchased individually for $30. Tickets are on sale now, with early-bird prices available.

For more information or to purchase tickets to the Cuvée Grand Tasting or en Route passports, visit here.

Note: Most information above was sent to Wines In Niagara by industry organizations. The information was edited for style and spelling.