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:
CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY
First vineyard planted in 2000, the second in 2002. Tasting room and retail store opened in July 2006.
Owner/Operator: Derek Saunders and Pat Latin
Winemaker: Arthur Harder
How big is your winery?
We produce 5,000 cases of wine each year
How many varieties of wine do you produce?
We grow eight grape varieties and most years bottle between 12 to 15 different wines, almost all produced from our own vineyards.
What are your three most popular wines?
The Pinot Gris, but there is a true fan following for our Barrel Kissed Chardonnay and our Meritage.
Tell us about the winery’s background.
Winemaking is a second career that grew out of a personal passion. The estate includes 10 acres of grapes on a small property near Beamsville in the Lincoln Lakeshore Appellation and 22 acres of grapes on the larger 42-acre winery site in the Vinemount Ridge Appellation. Our winery’s buildings are refurbished 1820 and 1888 era barns that showcase the local history and offer a warm relaxed space for catered functions and group tastings.
Does the winery offer tours?
We offer tours on special event weekends and by request for pre-booked private groups of six or more. Our most popular tour is the vineyard walk. The price is $15 per person and includes the tasting and a glass of wine and cheese plate at the end.
Is there a retail shop on the premises?
What other amenities are on site?
There is a 10-foot dome on the top deck that houses a large 16″ telescope that is available for evening events. There are several picnics tables around the vineyard and patio tables on the deck where we encourage customers to bring a lunch, buy a glass of wine and relax.
Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
All the Calamus wines are VQA. That means everything is 100 per cent local and in the case of Calamus, 95 per cent of the grapes used for the wines are from our own vineyards. What is not from their vineyard is sourced from neighbouring farmers.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
The best way to enhance your wine experience is to make the time to visit wine country—it’s only and hour from downtown Toronto. Spend a little time sampling the VQA wines available and taking home some favorites. Go local.