From Pelee Island to Niagara to Prince Edward County, Southern Ontario’s wine-producing pockets are home to a bounty of vintners that craft high-quality Pinot Noirs, Rieslings, Icewines and much, much more. Every Wednesday throughout the summer, Where Toronto profiles an Ontario winery whose bottles are worth seeking out, and whose vineyards are definitely worthy of a day trip from the big city.
This week’s Ontario winery:
CORNERSTONE ESTATE WINERY
Founded in 2002
Owners: Jerry and Wanda Kopanski
Winemaker: Andrzej Lipinski
What are your three most popular wines?
Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Pinot Gris.
Tell us about the winery’s background.
In 1999, Jerry Kopanski, a fruit and agricultural specialist, purchased a fruit farm in Beamsville, Ontario with his wife Wanda. They soon followed their dream of turning it into a working vineyard. In 2002, Jerry and Wanda began using their farm’s grapes to produce a variety of premium wines. Their winemaking business quickly progressed and, in 2004, they built a brand new facility to increase wine production. In 2005, they proudly opened their winery to the public. Today, this family-run winery produces premium wines using their own fruits, and focuses on limited productions, resulting in small batches of VQA wines.
How many varieties of wine do you produce?
About 10, including Cabernet-Merlot, Chenin Blanc, Gewurtztraminer, Chardonny Musque, a variety of fruit wines and our popular Fine Port.
Does the winery offer tours?
Tours are happily given by appointment.
What other amenities are on site?
There is a wine boutique/tasting room on premise where Cornerstone wines along with various wine accessories are available to purchase.
Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
Picking grapes for an Amarone-style wine is a very slow process. All the grapes must be perfect. A single rotten grape can affect the entire batch. After spending two to three times longer than normal picking these grapes they go through a very thorough sorting process, where every single grape is checked. Only when winemaker Andrzej Lipinski is a hundred per cent satisfied that the grapes are perfect will they move on to the next part of the wine making process.
What is distinctive about Cornerstone Estate Winery?
Cornerstone is one of the few wineries in the region producing wines in the appassimento style. Andrzej Lipinski’s innovative wine making style involves partially drying the grapes to concentrate their sugars and flavours before turning them into wine. Cornerstone’s newest wines are lovingly hand-picked and carefully sorted from premium reduced yields, dried in kilns and naturally fermented to produce small batches of very high quality VQA wines.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
Before you sip the wine , breathe in and hold a little bit of air in your mouth—the oxygen will help highlight the full taste of the wine.