We’re not sure why, but for some reason when we think of Canada our minds go straight to the word “majestic”. Hmmm….don’t know exactly where this imagery comes from, but during our visit to Vineland Estates Winery it became less “imagery” and more “reality”.
A hint of German accent in these Canadian Rieslings, I dare say!
There is quite the story to tell about the beginnings of this winery, literally a story that travels the oceans between the old world and the new. It all starts with a man named Hermann Weis, coming from a family with a history of centuries of vineyard ownership, and winery experience since 1947 when his father, Nicolaus Weis founded St. Urban-Hof in Mosel, Germany. Hermann took over management of the family business in the 1960’s and through his hard work and dedication became known as an expert vine breeder, especially renowned for his work with the Riesling varietal. Knowing the Riesling vines intimately, and looking for a new adventure and challenge (well…the second part of that, the adventure and challenge part, is our writer’s creative liberty..), Hermann brought Riesling vines, specifically the Weis 21 Riesling clones, to the Niagara Peninsula region of Ontario, Canada, where he knew the vines would thrive because of the similar climate and environment. As it turns out, although it can be quite cold in the Canadian region, this viticultural area called the Niagara Escarpment (Twenty Mile Bench sub appellation) derives a gift from Lake Ontario, a gift of warmth by a convection-warming effect, and a gift from the land of natural drainage of both air and water. Hence, great Riesling grow.
The location where the first vines were planted was appropriately called the St. Urban Vineyard and remains such today.
Shh…listen for the whispers…
The property of Vineland Estates whispers its own story as you walk the grounds. A story from the 1800’s. A story of the Moyer’s Mennonite homestead, a cash crop farm.
The Moyer’s former farmhouse, holding secrets of the past, now serves as the estates 4-Diamond Restaurant, serving lunch and dinner in fine-dining style with multiple-course meals paired with Vineland Estate wine. Their Executive Chef, Justin Downes, is no newcomer to the winery restaurant. Justin started his career at Vineland Estates at the young age of 13 as a mere dishwasher. Apparently, he was a very moldable young man and acquired a love for creating expression through food. Justin went on to study culinary arts and has become very successful in his own right, being named one of Niagara’s 2015 “40 under 40” winners. (For restaurant days/hours/reservations: click here)
Their century barn has been carefully renovated to remain suggestive of the past, but functional and elegant for the present, and serves as their retail establishment and tasting room area.
The stone Carriage House now serves as an elegant, yet comfortable venue for special functions such as birthdays, anniversaries or wedding dinners.
And of course, the ever strolling vineyards that surround the property. If only the land could talk and tell us what else has grown in this Canadian soil.
Cold climate grapes for…well….a cold climate.
Vineland Estates Winery produces about 47,000 cases of wine each year with about 75% of that being estate grown. At the helm of wine making is wine maker Brian Schmidt who has been at Vineland Estates since the very beginning in 1979. Brain and his team smartly focus on varietals that work well in the colder climate, varietals such as Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Franc, among others. Some of our favorites were: the 2013 Elevation series Chardonnay, from their Bo-Teek vineyards, allowed to remain on the lees and therefore a quite smooth tasting wine; 2013 Gamay Noir, full of complexity and layers, nice drinking wine with medium tannins at a great price point of $18.95 (Canadian); and their 2013 Brut Reserve at $28.00 (Canadian) was heavenly with just the right combination of acidity, crispness and bubbility (ha! a new wine term!)…anyway…heavenly, just heavenly.
Another wine they make that is a bit “different” simply because it typically isn’t grown to be anything other than a blending grape is the Pinot Meunier. This varietal is one of the 3 typical blending grapes in traditional-style Champagne. However, wine maker, Brian Schmidt, enjoys the grapes’ offering and therefore also makes it into a stand-alone table wine, with a smokey nose and gentle tannins. A nice and interesting change.
Of course, if you are into sweet desert wines, look no further as they offer a Vidal Late Harvest, Vidal Icewine, Riesling Icewine, and an uncommon Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine. Enough on their wines other than to say that they have a line called O’Leary Fine Wines…hmmmm….I wonder if that has anything to do with a cow and a fire?
So, if you happen to be in the Niagara, Ontario area take some time for yourself and visit this winery. Don’t forget to take the tour of their wine cellar and library. It is beautiful and well worth the time. Oh yeah, and ask for Hannah (Miki introduces her in the video below)…she is SO knowledgeable and her love for wine just shines through!
The Winer’s Experience
|AMBIANCE||GROUNDS & SCENERY||TASTING ROOM|
|The ambiance was retail, with lots of opportunity to shop for wine and non-wine related products, as well as taste some excellent wines. If you like shopping, here’s your gold mine!||Gorgeous, with rolling vineyards all around and beautiful flowers covering the landscape.||Very spacious with plenty of room for a large number of tasters. In addition, there is plenty of shopping to be had for that special someone….or yourself.|
|WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE||CUSTOMER SERVICE||TECHNICAL KNOWLEDGE|
|A five-grape tasting experience including a cellar tour and side-by-side vineyard comparison tastings. Unique and educational.||Amazing. They seemed to dote on our every need…and not just us, but to EVERY customer. Totally what you would expect from a customer-centered business.||Hannah, our tasting host, was a wealth of knowledge about wine, grapes, terroir…basically an “A” student….(having just graduated from Niagara College with her Wine & Viticulture Program)|
Vineyard & Winery Information
|Vineland Estates Winery||3620 Moyer Road, Vineland, Ontario LOR 2CO|
|Daily 10am – 6pm|
|Contact form on website||http://www.vineland.com/||(888) 846-3526|
|MUSIC||WINE CLUB||TASTING FEE|
|Check event calendar||Yes||$6-$15 for various flights of 3 wines|
|Daily, $12 per person||Yes, restaurant on site and snacks to purchase in the tasting room|