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Lou Puglisi and his family opened the doors to PondView Estate Winery in June, 2010. The Niagara-on-the-Lake operation changed its name to Bella Terra Vineyards last month.

Handout

Many companies rebrand in the hopes of connecting with a new audience, staying current and reflecting their goals and values. Contemplating a name change is never a quick or easy decision, particularly in the world of wine where tradition and culture can add credibility and authenticity to the products going to market.

Winemaking is a serious pursuit, which involves a scientific understanding of chemistry and viticulture as well as a creative bent. Selling wine, however, requires speaking to consumers on an emotional level. There’s the need to spin a credible and engaging story of what sets your wines apart.

If a winery’s name isn’t helping to convey that story, it’s time to change the narrative.

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The most recent occurrence of this was undertaken by the Puglisi family. Looking to showcase the best wines made from their Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyards, in June they changed the name of its winery operation to Bella Terra Vineyards from PondView Estate.

Produced in 2009 and 2010, the first vintages of Bella Terra chardonnay and cabernet franc created a buzz around the family’s estate and helped garner a loyal following. The range has expanded to include other varieties grown in the vineyards, including sauvignon blanc, riesling and pinot noir, and the wines continue to win awards at international and domestic competitions – most recently landing a top 10 finish at the Chardonnay du Monde competition in France.

The move mirrors the rebranding of nearby Trius Winery, which was known as Hillebrand. When the Trius wines became better known than the Hillebrand lineup, the change in 2012 made a lot of sense. But it took a while to transition to the new name, especially with old inventory carrying the Hillebrand name and decades of work building the brand.

The team at Bella Terra knows what to expect as they work through the next year of establishing their new identity. The pondviewwinery.com website continues to operate and a selection of table and icewines will continue to be available under the PondView Estate label. They will be phased out over time.

“The easiest thing was to change the sign at the road,” says sales and marketing director Marcel Morgenstern.

A rich and rewarding fumé blanc from Bella Terra leads off this week’s recommendations, with two seriously collectable red wines from the Okanagan Valley that are built for the cellar, but the option to drink now is always there. The selection is rounded out by are a variety of inviting beers, ciders and wines to sample in summer.

Bella Terra Vineyards was renamed after the premium range of red, white and sparkling wines from the winery.

Handout

Bella Terra Fumé Blanc 2017 (Canada), $34.95

rating out of 100

90

Made with sauvignon blanc from a single vineyard in Niagara-on-the-Lake, this dry and developing white wine tastes slightly sweet due to the impressive concentration of fruit. It packs plenty of flavour and obvious oak influence, with spicy notes accenting an attractive mix of pea shoot, ripe citrus and tropical notes. The big, bold and fresh style makes it stand out. Drink now to 2023. Available direct through bellaterravineyards.ca.

Benjamin Bridge Nova 7 2020 (Canada), $24.95

rating out of 100

90

Now on its 14th vintage, the style of Nova 7 continues to become fresher and brighter without losing the bold and fruity character that makes this one of Canada’s most beloved wines. Clean and zesty, this offers a good balance of tart and ripe fruit, honey and floral notes. A subtle fizz adds refreshment and makes for a nice lingering aftertaste. Drink now. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in Alberta, $24.71 in Manitoba, $24.99 in Nova Scotia or direct through benjaminbridge.com.

Loch Mór Cider Co. Savvy Pomme Sparkling Cider (Canada), $8.90/375 mL

rating out of 100

90

This is a terrific introduction to the range of expressive ciders coming from Loch Mór, an orchard-based cidery in Prince Edward County, Ont. Made with pomme gris apples, one of the 29 heritage and cider varieties planted at the farm in Hillier, this off-dry cider is nicely balanced by tannin, acidity and effervescence. The alcohol is 8.5 per cent, but you’d wouldn’t know that by tasting this refreshing and flavourful cider. Available direct through lochmorcider.ca.

Mission Hill Family Estate Terroir Collection Vista’s Edge Cabernet Franc 2019 (Canada), $55

rating out of 100

92

Launched with the 2015 vintage, this single vineyard cabernet franc has become a personal favourite in the extensive Mission Hill portfolio. A ripe and balanced red, this offers vibrant cabernet franc character, with its mixture of sweet ripe fruit and fragrant savoury notes. Made in an age-worthy style, thanks to substantial but polished tannins, this is approachable now due to its complex flavours and long refreshing finish. Drink now to 2029. Available direct through missionhillwinery.com.

Osoyoos Larose 2017 (Canada), $48.99

rating out of 100

93

First launched as a Franco-Canadian joint venture with a red blend made in 2001, Osoyoos Larose is controlled by solely by Groupe Taillan of Bordeaux and continues to produce one of Canada’s most collectible wines. The 2017 vintage is merlot-dominant and offers an attractive mix of savoury and ripe fruit notes as part of a polished and age-worthy style. The quality and character of this single-vineyard red continues to impress. Drink now to 2030. Available at the above price in British Columbia, various prices in Alberta, $58.99 in Saskatchewan, $49.08 in Manitoba, $51.75 in Quebec, $54.99 in New Brunswick, $52.99 in Prince Edward Island.

Something in the Water Brewing Blackberry Vanilla Sour (Canada), $3.75/473 mL

rating out of 100

88

This flavourful sour fruit beer is the debut release by Something in the Water, a venture started by Steve Waugh, a former advertising executive who turned a passion for homebrewing into a vocation. Produced at a brewery in Niagara Falls, this is produced with blackberries and vanilla pods, which make for a refreshingly sweet and sour flavour that’s nicely balanced and easy to appreciate. Available in Ontario at the above price, various prices in British Columbia and Alberta. Set for a late summer release in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with a suggested retail price of $4/473 mL

Muskoka Brewery Mimosa Ale (Canada), $3.65/473 mL

rating out of 100

88

This fruity and refreshing ale tastes like a grapefruit radler, but the marketing push to call it a mimosa-inspired ale is sure to attract attention. This is made in a fresh and enjoyable style, but the ale’s gentle effervescence is where the relationship with the crisp and fizzy character of a sparkling wine-based mimosa falls short. Nevertheless, this is certain to be tasty on a hot summer’s day or evening. Drink now. Available at the above price in Ontario, $4.79/473 mL in New Brunswick.

Windfall Lost & Found Foraged Cider (Canada), $17.75

rating out of 100

87

Made with apples foraged in the backyards of Vancouver homes and urban orchards as well as a heritage orchard in the Fraser Valley, this seasonal release is made in a dry and full-bodied style that works nicely as an aperitif or enjoyed with a meal. There’s an interesting interplay of fruity and yeasty flavours. Available in British Columbia at the above price or direct through windfallcider.ca.

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