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Where to Go Toronto

Ontario Winery Profile: Strewn Winery

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.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Strewn-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

STREWN WINERY
Established in 1997
Owner: Joe Will, president and founding winemaker. Newman Smith, chairman.
Winemaker: Dr. Marc Bradshaw

How big is your winery?
Strewn is a smaller winery with 26 acres of grapes grown from the winery’s lakeshore and inland vineyards, along with those purchased from a handful of other growers.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
We produce nine varietals. We produce age-worthy Bordeaux-style red wines: Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.

Our refreshing white wines include Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewurztraminer and Pinot Blanc. We produce Vidal, Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine. The portfolio also includes the more affordable TwoVines and Cottage Block brands, premium varietals and single vineyard Terroir selections, many available only at the winery.

What are your three most popular wines?
Two Vines Riesling-Gewurztraminer, Strewn Barrel Aged Chardonnay and Rogue’s Lot (a blend of Cab Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc).

Tell us about the winery’s background.
Joe Will, founding winemaker has always had a passion for wine. While he working in other fields (journalism and public relations), he kept his passion for wine alive. In 1989 he had the opportunity to further pursue the business that stirred his soul. After working in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, Joe headed to Australia’s Roseworthy College at the University of Adelaide. Upon returning home Joe signed on as the inaugural winemaker at Pillitteri Estates and five years later opened Strewn winery with industry veteran Newman Smith. The mandate of the winery is to make premium VQA wines from grapes grown in the Niagara Peninsula.

Does the winery offer tours?
We offer complimentary public tours daily at 11:30 a.m., which includes a vineyard walk (weather permitting) followed by a tasting. We also offer French-speaking tours available by appointment. Private tours are available for groups of 10 or more for minimum of $5. Customized tours available for groups. Prices vary.

Ontario Winery Profile Strewn Estate BottlesIs there a retail shop on the premises?
We have a retail boutique that stocks wine related merchandise that make lovely eccentric gifts for the winelover and foodie.

What other amenities are on site?
The Wine Country Cooking School located within Strewn is a unique culinary experience for recreational cooks. Terroir La Cachette is the restaurant at Strewn where chef Alain Levesque combines French Provençal style of cooking with the best local ingredients, bringing together the finest the region has to offer.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
Contrary to popular belief, winemaking is a pretty un-romantic occupation! It’s exhausting, intense, involving crazy hours and insane temperatures, and is totally grubby work with black stained hands for many months of the year…but, like any forms of art, people embroiled in the production of wine are some of the most absolute super-charged passionate people you will ever encounter, and they wouldn’t have their job any other way.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
I feel that the wine consumer often overlooks serving temperature for most wines. Often white wines are served too cold – making them less aromatic and more acidic. Typically, more complex white wine, such as barrel-fermented Chardonnay should be served slightly warmer (10-13°C). Whereas, lighter-bodied and neutral white wines benefit from more of a chill (7-10°C). The common refrigerator is set to 4-5°C, so a good rule is to remove white wines from the fridge around 15-20 minutes prior to service.

With the advent of state-of-the-art heating and insulation systems, room temperature has increased. In turn, red wines are often served slightly too warm. Serving a red wine too warm makes them seem flabby and less fresh. Lighter reds are refreshing when served between 10-13°C and medium-bodied red wines are appropriately served between 13-16°C. Serving bigger, bolder and more tannic red wines too chilled will make them more astringent and bitter, so serving slightly below room temperature at 16-18°C is recommended. Placing most red wines in the fridge 15-20 minutes prior to service will benefit the wine and the consumer. Of course, if you like your wine warmer or colder, you should not forsake what you enjoy—after all, you paid for it and you are consuming it!

• Strewn Winery, 1339 Lakeshore Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake, 905-468-1229
• strewnwinery.com; Facebook; Twitter @strewnwinery

 

Ontario Winery Profile: Viewpointe Estate Winery

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.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

VIEWPOINTE ESTATE WINERY
Established in 2000
Owner: John, Steve and Jean Fancsy

How big is your winery?
We are a boutique winery producing between 7,000 and 8,000 cases of wine each year.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
More than 15.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate-BottlesWhat are your three most popular wines?
Auxerrois, Pinot Grigio and a Cabernet blend.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
We are a family-owned and -operated winery. As the Fancsy family diverged from the automotive industry in the late 1990’s, we wanted to fulfill a vision of a destination winery in the developing Lake Erie North Shore appellation. Family ties are strong here; the family had property in the area and spent summers at a family cottage on the lake near the winery. There is a passion for wine.

Does the winery offer tours?
Yes. Tours can be booked by appointment. The cost of a tour is $7 and includes tastings of 4 wines. Tastings are complimentary for small groups, and range from $3 to $5 depending on the size of a larger group. Please phone the winery for further details regarding pricing.

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes, and a tasting bar.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Viewpointe-Estate-TastingWhat other amenities are on site?
There is a fully equipped teaching kitchen—with a view no less! Viewpointe offers cooking classes throughout the year. There’s also an event space on the second floor of the “retail” building with a panoramic view of Lake Erie for weddings and many other events. We have a huge outdoor patio, where meals are served from May to October. There is a large elegant tent over part of the patio; large enough for events including wedding ceremonies. Lunches and special dinners are also scheduled on weekends and on special evenings during the winter season. The tasting bar/retail area offers seating for indoor dining as well as a panoramic view of the patio and lake. There is also an event space at cellar level, which can be utilized to host meetings, lectures and presentations. This room is connected to our barrel room, which is part of the tour agenda. Two of the winery buildings sit back from one of our vineyards. Many great photo opportunities can be had at events including the lake, sunsets, the vineyards, the barrel room and the grounds and buildings. Viewpointe also hosts and participates in seasonal events and activities

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
Of course, first we would suggest a visit to the winery to drink up all of the factors to getting the most from your glass and bottle. Knowing the story, experiencing personally, and comfortably learning and deciding which wine is right for you can greatly enhance your wine experiences.

• Viewpointe Estate Winery, 151 County Rd. 50 E., Harrow, 519-738-0690
viewpointewinery.com; Facebook; Twitter @viewpointewines

You Are Here: Eat, Explore and Relax Along the Harbourfront

HTO Park

HTO Park

1  Inspired by J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, the Toronto Music Garden is a classical green space in both theme and execution: six meticulously tended “movements” are lush with trees, tall grasses and colourful perennials. The garden hosts chamber music performances on Thursdays and Sundays throughout the summer. 479 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000; harbourfrontcentre.com

2  Watch the boats (and planes) go by beneath a large yellow parasol at HTO Park. The sand-strewn site overlooking Toronto’s inner harbour lends a relaxed, beachy vibe to what was once a fairly nondescript stretch of lakeside real estate. 339 Queens Quay W.

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Ontario Winery Profile: By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery & Vineyard

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.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-By-Chadseys-Cairns

This week’s Ontario winery:

BY CHADSEY’S CAIRNS WINERY & VINEYARD
Established in 2002
Owner: Richard Johnston and Vida Zalnieriunas

How big is your winery?
We produce about 1,800 cases per year from just under 20 acres of grapes, expanding to 24 acres this year.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
Eight, including the only Chenin and Muscat in the county. We also have Gamay, Pinot, and St. Laurent in the reds.

What are your three most popular wines?
It changes from year to year but in the past couple of vintages our botrytis-affected Rieslings were our biggest sellers.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
We are a family partnership. We began growing in 1999 as we re-imagined the future of the Chadsey’s farm that had been growing fruit for 200 years. I [Richard] loved the soils and told Vida on our first day here that “I think we could grow grapes here.” Little did I know how tough it would be. When we opened our doors to the public in 2003 we offered the first Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer ever produced commercially in Prince Edward County.

Does the winery offer tours?
Yes, we provide tours of our apple house vineyard to explain the winter burying and trellising techniques we use, and we give a tour of our pioneer cemetery. The price varies per group and is usually tied in to a tasting as well. We can accommodate groups as small as 4 and as large as 60.

Harvesting grapes at By Chadsey's Cairns

Harvesting grapes at By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes. The Apple House, built circa 1855, is our tasting room.

What other amenities are on site?
We don’t have a restaurant but do have a great picnic area and our barn that overlooks lake Ontario is pretty spectacular.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
Burying vines in PEC is not like covering the grafts in Niagara. For fine wines, we don’t have multi-year trunks but bring up new canes off the graft each year. Two of those are tied down to a wire just above the ground and they’re buried under dirt in mid-November to help them survive our more severe winters. Unburied plants would have lost 100 per cent of their buds to freezing temperatures during this past winter.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
The key to understand Prince Edward County wines in general is to focus in on the lovely clean acidity in each of them and to try to pick up on the impact of the calcerous limestone that underpins the whole area.

• By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery & Vineyard, 17432 Loyalist Pkwy., Hillier
• bychadseyscairns.com; Facebook

 

Ontario Winery Profile: Calamus Estate Winery

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.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Calamus-Estate

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?
Yes.

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.

• Calamus Estate Winery, 3100 Glen Rd., Jordan, 905-562-9303
calamuswines.com; Facebook; Twitter 

Ontario Winery Profile: Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards

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.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Cooper's-Hawk-Vineyards-Sign

This week’s Ontario winery:

COOPER’S HAWK VINEYARDS
Founded in 2007, opened for sales in 2011
Owner: The O’Brien Family and Debbie Meloche
Winemaker: Rori McCaw

How big is your winery?
The winery’s 67 acres yield 5,000 cases of wine annually.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
About 14.

What are your three most popular wines?
 Cabernet Franc, Merlot and Riesling.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
We are a family-owned and -operated winery. It is a second career for us and wine is a personal passion for our family.

Does the winery offer tours?
Tours are offered by appointment only.

Cooper's Hawk's bottling facilities

Cooper’s Hawk’s bottling facilities

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes.

What other amenities are on site?
We have a five-acre park and grass with picnic tables, hay rides in the fall and a new wetland tour this summer.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
 Craft wineries put intensive labour and care into Ontario wine making.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
Every wine is different, and enjoyable in different ways, and it’s fun to try the variety of wines.

• Cooper’s Hawk Vineyards, 1425 Iler Rd., RR 1, Harrow, 519-738-4295
coopershawkvineyards.com; Facebook; Twitter @coopershawkwine

There’s Still Time to Explore Ontario’s Parks and Outdoor Spaces This Summer

BY CRAIG MOY

Sandbanks Provincial Park (photo: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation)

Sandbanks Provincial Park (photo: Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation)

According to the 2011 census, 81 per cent of Canadians now live in urban areas. In Ontario, that number is even higher—86 per cent. And yet a significant part of our national identity remains tied to the frontier, the wilderness. We may live in condos and work in cubicles, but our hearts still yearn for open spaces.

Fortunately, Ontario boasts bounteous natural expanses (national and provincial parks, as well as locally administered conservation areas) for exploration and recreation. Many of these sites are within reasonable distance from the Greater Toronto Area, but not so close as to be overrun with visitors.

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Ontario Winery Profile: Château des Charmes

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.

Ontario-Winery-Profile-Chateau-des-Charmes-Estate

This week’s Ontario winery:

CHÂTEAU DES CHARMES
Founded in 1978
Owner: Paul Bosc
Winemaker: Amélie Boury

How big is your winery?
Our annual production is about 60,000 cases.

How many varieties of wine do you produce?
We grow 16 different varieties of grapes on 280 acres, but we make 30 or so different wines.

What are your three most popular wines?
It depends on the season. Barrel-Fermented Chardonnay, Estate-Bottled Cabernet Sauvignon, and Estate-Bottled Aligoté from the St. David’s Bench Vineyard are always crowd favourites.

Tell us about the winery’s background.
 Seven generations of our family have been born into our way of life. “Making wine is not what we do, it’s who we are” is a Bosc family saying. We care about every aspect of the winegrowing and winemaking process, which is why we control it ourselves from start to finish.

Does the winery offer tours?
Tours and tastings are offered daily year-round, though the winery may be closed on major holidays. Tours are offered in English, French and Japanese and range from $10 to $15, and are offered on a first-come, first-served basis.

Is there a retail shop on the premises?
Yes.

Tell us something people typically don’t know or understand about wine production.
 We are all farmers. Making wine is as much science as art.

What is one piece of advice you’d offer someone wishing to have a better experience with wine?
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Enjoy the wine with friends and family. Do you like the taste? That’s what’s most important. If you want to go a bit deeper think about the TLC that went into making the wine—in our case we’ve grown all the grapes ourselves using sustainable agricultural techniques. Think about the soils and the weather when it was grown, the people who took the time and care to craft the wine, and then the memories created when you enjoy it.

• Chåteau des Charmes, 1025 York Rd., St. David’s, 905-262-4219
fromtheboscfamily.com; Facebook; Twitter @Mbosc

Ontario Winery Profile: Southbrook Vineyards

Ontario Winery Profile: Union Wines

Ontario Winery Profile: Sprucewood Shores Winery

Ontario Winery Profile: Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate