Well we are officially closing in on the harvest for Ontario’s 2012 vintage, and for some grapes we are a mere 2 or 3 weeks away. In some cases we will see one of the earliest, most ripe, harvests in some time. It’s also time for the LCBO’s yearly “buy local” campaign (http://www.lcbogolocal.com/). This year, more than ever the LCBO is promoting this campaign through traditional and nontraditional media outlets. The idea is to get people talking about and drinking Ontario wine and the LCBO goes live with an in-store promotion in 3 weeks to support the industry. As an active participant in the promotion this year I have been very fortunate. I have sampled over 40 Ontario wines in the past two weeks and have been able to interact one on one with some of the best in our industry. On Tuesday I spent the entire day on a grand tour of Niagara, tasting, eating, and exploring all that Niagara wine country has to offer (look out for the entire blog recap of the day coming very soon).
Being part of this experience has certainly taught me a lot. I have always supported Ontario wines and our local culture. I have spent many hours in Niagara and my in-laws are actually from the heart of the region. So I certainly knew that our wine industry was great long before I joined this promotion. I knew that the wines were consistently underappreciated by writers and the general public and that the people in the business were knowledgeable and passionate wine professionals. I knew that the restaurants and the tourist industry were as good as any, and that we we we’re producing some quality wines. What I didn’t quite realize was just how true all of those statements really are, and just how poised our wine industry is to become one of the great wine regions in the world in the years to come.
So I’ll make this very easy on you. Here are 20 reasons why you should drink Ontario wine and visit Ontario’s wine country.
1) Because our winemakers are passionate… I mean very, very, passionate. Don’t believe me? Then introduce yourself to Ed Madronich of Flat Rock, Daniel Speck at Henry of Pelham, or Brain Schmidt at Vineland the next time you are out at those places. And they are just a subset of the great people you will come across.
2) Because VQA stands for 100% Ontario grown grapes.
3) Because the experience of visiting Niagara wine country can be as good a wine country trip as the other major regions in the world… but by comparison it is in our backyard.
4) Because as Michelle Bosc from Chateau de Charmes says “We want to be Niagara. We don’t want to be anyone else”.
5) Because the region also produces fantastic locally made cheese and locally grown foods.
6) Because we are permitted to experiment and be innovative. At Chateau de Charmes they are experimenting with hybrid grape varieties and at Peninsula Ridge their Ritafia is a blend of a Chardonnay and an in house spirit made from distilled Plums… and it is fantastic.
7) Because the wineries all support each other.
8) Because we are the only region in the world guaranteed to make Ice Wine every year.
9) Because the wine experience is wonderful right from the food, to the wine, to the exceptional service at every stop.
10) Because we produce exceptional Pinot Noir, Baco Noir, Gamay, Chardonnay, Riesling, Ice Wine…….
11) Because the people are down to earth and approachable.
12) Because our terroir is so unique with the moderating lake effects from Lake Ontario coupled with the Niagara escarpment. Furthermore we are situated on the same latitude as some of the greatest wine regions in Europe.
13) Because we are still so small that we can’t afford to be snobby or stuck-up. As a result no question is a dumb one and everyone is simply out to have you try and enjoy their wine.
14) Because there is value to be discovered in quality wines at reasonable prices.
15) Because if you start drinking it now you will that much more appreciative and knowledgeable when Ontario is one of the great wine regions of the world in 5-10 more years.
16) Because even outside of Niagara there are great wines to be discovered in Prince Edward County, Pelee Island, and Lake Erie North Shore.
17) Because the restaurants in the wineries have come a long way and now employ some of the finest, most creative chef’s in the province.
18) Because it is absolutely gorgeous.
19) Because we have big chateau’s, small family owned wineries, & B&B’s. We have completely green, organic, and sustainable vineyards. We have stunning modern vineyards, as well as old world victorian style. We have vineyards within a 45 minute drive from downtown Toronto and we have close to 80 wineries in the Niagara region alone.
20) Because the wine is truly excellent.
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