Canadian Millennial Wine Tour: Niagara Region
After all the fun we had last Thursday at the Drinks Ontario Summer Luncheon, David and I, along with a group from Bevsupport decided to venture to a few wineries to unwind before the long weekend.
Despite some rainy weather, we left Toronto and headed along the crowded QEW towards Niagara. Our first stop was lunch at Henry of Pelham.
HoP as it is sometimes referred to, is in St. Catharines, and is one the most established wineries in Niagara.
After a bottle of great chardonnay and a little summer rosé,
Daniel Speck joined our lunch group to talk about how the winery came to be, and how Millennials are a key role in what they do.
He talked about the importance of creating not only the Henry of Pelham brand but their playful Sibling Rivalry brand as well, which helps them reach more of the Millennial segments. After picking up a few bottles, and wrapping up a great lunch we moved onto our next stop.
Southbrook started as a family run farm north of Toronto, were David would buy his pumpkins as a child, and has grown into one of my favorite places to visit when I’m in the area. It is impossible to miss from the road as you are welcomed by the massive wall that runs the length of the driveway. We met with Owner Bill Redelmeier who has an unmatched passion for his winery.
As we worked our way through the wines, we were explained what the benefits are to having a biodynamic winery and how Southbrook feels that it produced a better wine.
They cite hardier grapes and more attention to detail for the uptick in quality. Since there is no pesticides or fungicides, the grapes have to use their own natural defences. This means the grapes and therefore the wine have more anti-oxidants than non-organic wine.
We were especially fascinated with how they use sheep to trim the low-lying foliage and then they in turn fertilize the vineyard. Bill explained how nothing in their process gets wasted; even the wool from the flock of sheep gets mad into blankets from the winery.
We picked up a few bottles of wine for our steak dinner we had planned that night, and upon finding out what we had planned Bill Redelmeier insisted that we take some wood chip that had been made from their recycled oak barrels to had to the grill.
Everything in the winery had a great story behind it, from the names of the wines to the planks they used to make the tasting table. If the staff hadn’t been trying to close up we probably would have stayed talking to Bill well into the night.
For those of you from York Region, you may recognize Southbrook – they had a farm at Major Mackenzine and Bathurst that only recently closed to be replaced by a big subdivision.
We wrapped up the evening with a short drive back to my family home and capped off the Millennial tour of Niagara my dad sabering a bottle of Henry of Pelham Cuvee Catherine Sparkling Rosé and a great bottle of Southbrook Poetica Cabernet Merlot that Bill Redelmeier had to dedicated us.
For anyone living within a few hours of Niagara, we highly recommend both Henry of Pelham and Southbrook for the winery experience and for the wine.