With tasting rooms closed across the country, Canadian wineries have taken to social media channels to market their products and stay connected with consumers. Sign on to your favourite social platform and you’ll easily find virtual tastings, food and wine pairing tutorials and behind-the-scenes videos, such as a look at how wines are blended before bottling or how a vine is pruned, filling your feed.
Like any business that’s been seriously disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, wineries are looking to keep working albeit in a dramatically reduced capacity. Tasting room sales and restaurant accounts represent two major income streams for wineries, the loss of which points to significant uncertainty ahead. Prospects for the summer tourism season look bleak.
But there’s bottled wine to be sold and wines in cellars waiting to be finished. In the vineyard, vines are coming out of dormancy and getting an early start on the season. Wine is a business that takes time and requires significant planning.
Mild winters in British Columbia and Ontario meant workers needed to mobilize quickly. Vines need to be pruned and tied back onto the trellis in preparation for budbreak and the start of the growth cycle. Mother Nature doesn’t care about global pandemics and wineries have one harvest each year to determine their inventory supply for the future.
One positive to note, online sales for Canadian wineries continue to be brisk. Many are offering reduced or complimentary shipping on orders as an added incentive for consumers who wish to order wines for home delivery.
This is the time to support Canadian winemakers. Tune in to their social media feeds and learn more about their operations and ordering wines to your home. At this time, wine lovers are offered the first look at fresh and aromatic wines from last year’s vintage as well as the release of barrel aged wines from previous vintages that are ready for release. Here are eight new releases that stood out in recent tastings. They show a range of grape varieties and winemaking techniques, but all can be aptly described as being tasty and enjoyable.
40 Knots Winery Auxerrois French Oak 2018 (Canada)
An interesting and satisfying white from 40 Knots Winery on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The winemaking team looked to build richness and texture through barrel fermentation and aging on lees to round-out the character of a wine that offers attractive fruit flavours and freshness. Drink now to 2022. Available direct through 40knotswinery.com.
Bachelder Les Villages Gamay Noir 2018 (Canada)
Winemaker Thomas Bachelder’s latest collection of single-vineyard pinot noirs and chardonnays from Niagara was recently posted for sale online. The new selection shows a Bachelder’s increased focus on gamay noir from select vineyards around the region. Gamay has long been a great grape in Niagara, since the earliest efforts of Cave Spring, Château des Charmes and Hillebrand (now Trius Winery), but it’s only recently been getting the respect it deserves. The addition of this fragrant and fruity, savoury and refreshing red is certainly to draw more attention to the quality and value for money prospect on offer. Available direct through bachelderniagara.com.
Big Head Wines Big Red 2017 (Canada)
This red wine blend from Niagara’s Big Head, which includes cabernet franc, merlot, dornfelder and petit verdot grapes, is made in an unconventional fashion. The dornfelder and petit verdot grapes were air dried to increase the richness and complexity of the finished wine before being introduced to the fermenting cabernet and merlot grapes. The result is a robust red wine with appealing fruity, spicy and tobacco notes that’s ready to drink now with burgers, meat-lovers pizza or tomato-based pasta dishes. Available direct through bigheadwines.com.
Hester Creek Estate Winery Old Vines Trebbiano Block 16 2019 (Canada)
Always one to watch, this one-of-a-kind Okanangan wine is made from trebbiano vines planted in 1968 on the Golden Mile Bench. Hester Creek’s winemaking team consistently crafts a rich, yet refreshing white wine that is made in a fresh, unoaked style to capture the zesty citrus character of the trebbiano grape, with apricot and tropical fruit notes that add weight and complexity. Drink now to 2023. Available direct through hestercreek.com.
Malivoire Wine Co. Vivant Rosé 2019 (Canada)
Few Canadian wineries take rosé as seriously as Malivoire does. It was part of their opening inventory and has been subject to ongoing research and development to the point where the Beamsville, Ont.-based winery’s rosé portfolio stands amongst the very best wines in the country. The new Vivant Rosé is made from 100-per-cent estate-grown pinot noir and is 100-per-cent delicious. Its bright and fruity character is refreshingly dry and complete. Drink now to 2022. Available at the above price in Ontario via LCBO or direct from malivoire.com.
Meyer Family Vineyard Stevens Block Chardonnay 2018 (Canada)
This truly enjoyable and expressive white wine is one of four chardonnays produced in 2018 by Meyer Family Vineyards, which consistently ranks as one of British Columbia’s best chardonnay producers. The Old Main Road Vineyard in Naramata is owned by the Meyer family; Stevens Block is one acre that has been singled out for the quality of its fruit. Made in a bright and refreshing style, this offers appealing citrusy and flinty notes that make it really enjoyable to drink right now. Drink now to 2024. Available direct through mfvwines.com.
Spearhead Winery Pinot Noir Rosé 2019 (Canada)
This flavourful dry and fruity rosé is made from pinot noir grapes grown in three estate vineyards in the northern Okanagan. Nicely balanced, with bright berry and cherry notes, this works as a solo sipper or with a meal. Drink now. Fans should also check out the winery’s unique White Pinot Noir, which is a fresh and fragrant white wine made from gentle handling of pinot noir grapes to avoid extracting any colour. Available direct through spearheadwinery.com.
Tightrope Winery Riesling 2018 (Canada)
Tightrope’s house style is to make a refreshing expression of riesling with some sweetness to balance the grape variety’s naturally high acidity. Made from estate-grown grapes on the Naramata Bench in the Okanagan, which were picked in two separate lots about one week apart to add complexity, this offers an attractive fruit salad suggesting green apple, grapefruit and white peach with a clean, fresh finish. Drink now to 2025. Available direct through. tightropewinery.ca.
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