Locaboire Wine Tour of Prince Edward County Vineyards with The Wine Ladies
Post by Robert Campbell on Mar 17, 2010
Without going into too much detail about the Lenzr photo contest website, and how and why all this happened, let me just say I had an opportunity to taste a dozen great wines and meet three of most knowledgeable winemakers that are shaping the region. Their wines are grown next to Lake Ontario, which has a moderating effect on the air temperatures. Indeed it was almost balmly this 13th day in March, 2010.
Locaboire is all about drinking locally produced wines and beers
As the white limo streaked through the muddy brown landscape of Prince Edward County in early spring The Wine Ladies thanked everyone for accompanying them on the Locaboire wine tour that was co sponsored by Dave Dingle of Shrinkray Mobile through Lenzr, a serial photo contest website.
Welcome to Historic Eastern Ontario, and down into the heart of a new wine region on the north shore of Lake Ontario near the town of Brighton. Closson road is still peppered with very old buildings on wilderness properties, derelict barns and wild grapes smothering trees and stone fences. I thought I saw some wild apple trees which are all that remains of the orchards that were planted on every farm here in the 1800s. This region boasts some of the oldest settlements in Upper Canada and each lot has a long legacy of owners and entrepreneurial activity.
The vines in this part of the world are young, and they’re on the opposite side of the lake from Niagara. The north side of the lake, where the growing season is just as long, but the winters are colder.
Our voyage visited only three of the thirty wineries that exist here now. Here’s a link to the Prince Edward Co (PEC) wine region index. In addition to these sites, I believe there are at least ten more seedling vineyards that have planted grapevines and hope to establish themselves as PEC wineries in the near future.
Locaboire Wine Tour of Prince Edward Co.
The secrets of Prince Edward County lie in the soil of the region. Most properties here can find limestone bedrock just 3 to 5 feet underneath the top soil. The best properties have a very gentle slope down towards the lake. For a very good explanation of the characteristics of Prince Edward County wines please refer to this article about the Locaboire wine tour on The Wine Ladies ‘One Sip at a Time’ blog.
Partly because of its soft and friable calcareous limestone soil, and partly due to assiduous care on the part of its winemakers who have learned how to protect their vines each winter to shelter the tender primary buds from killing cold, the vines have endured, and the wines have excelled in tastings all over the world.
At The Grange Wineries, 990 Closson Road. Hillier, ON K0K2J0
Ten minutes into the expedition, our limousine turned off the paved road and bumped its down a muddy side road, over Dorland Creek, and past a 19th century farmhouse to stop outside The Grange winery.
Inside a cozy wooden barn we met Caroline Granger who, along with her father Bob Granger, owns the property and facilities. This family manages six different vineyards, with six different varietals – they harvest 180 tonnes of grapes every year.
Caroline Granger was great and very down to earth considering her name is perhaps most often associated with the area. She is literally part of the terior of the region. The Wine Ladies really liked her – Susanne and Georgia unpacked their signature huge wine glasses, and all together we shot three segments for The Wine Ladies TV show in three different locations on the property. Here’s The Wine Ladies You Tube video of the lenzr wine tour, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fS84EUY3BFA
The Grange of Prince Edward Estate Winery is a family run business established in 2002 by Robert Granger and his daughter Caroline. With sixty acres of vineyards, its a breathtaking pastoral setting with a timber hewn tasting room that is the hayloft of a lovingly restored 1826 barn. The set-up of The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery has been called ‘the Loyalist version of a French wine estate’ by other notable Canadian wine bloggers and that’s because it comes complete with rich textures, historical outbuildings and old-world ambiance. The vineyards comprise more than 55,000 vinifera and are planted on Hillier clay gravel over calciferous fractured limestone. The vineyard planting began in 2001 and wine production began with the 2003 vintage. Their signature wines include a Riesling, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, Rosé
The Lenzr prize / VIP Locaboire Wine Tour from left to right, Rob Campbell, Dave Dingle, Michell Walkau, Susanne and Georgia – The Wine Ladies, Debbie (MommaKoala), Johnny Cochrane and Dr. Sandra Ausma at The Grange Winery – that’s Caroline Granger pouring Trumpours Mill, 2007 Pinot Noir. Photos by Bill Watson (Ve3bnw) check ve3bnw Flickr stream for more pics.
Caroline Granger was very down to earth as she related the history of her property – the farm is two hundred years old and once hosted a chicken canning business which raised and packed poultry under the name Meadowvale farms. The chicken cannery was quite a success in the early 1900s, and printed material from just after WW1show the goods were sold in the market of the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto. Caroline Granger was herself born and raised on the property; she described how she plowed the fields when she was a little girl. The Wine Ladies were very impressed with her and remarked afterwards on how genuine it is for the proprietor of a winery to be so intimately connected to the property.
Next Stop, Closson Chase – 629 Closson Rd, Hillier Ontario
At 3:30 pm the Locaboire wine tour continued down the road to Closson Chase.
Lynn Carmichael greeted us all inside the unique and beautiful Closson Chase tasting room. We sauntered through the space to the far corner of a large wooden barn. This establishment began back in 1998 on just seven hectares of land. Geoff Heinrick and Deborah Paskus studied the soil of Prince Edward County and speculated that Burgundian grapes could do well in this climate. After producing successful wines, Seaton Mclean and Sonja Smits who had purchased a country home in the area offered financial support to Deborah Paskus so she could open Closson Chase Vineyards in 2004.
Deborah Paskus is one of Canada’s premier winemakers and uses centuries old European traditions to create the exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays of her brand. The firm only focuses on two grape varieties because ‘the creation of exceptional wines requires exceptional focus’. Their fine wines are the product of several important factors and the winemaking practices developed by Old world masters over centuries. Their grapes are produced from vines imported from France, from similar soil and conditions.
In the tasting room, Lynn Carmichael explained that Closson has two properties. The grape vines on their farm in Niagara are 30 years old, while the vines grown here in Eastern Ontario come from vines that are less than six years old. We tasted the difference as we sampled the Chardonnay – one glass was from 6 yr old vines, and other from 30 yr old vines and the differences were profound. All tasters remarked at the contrast, as we came to understand more about the structure of wine in general. It was a good education, and great exercise.
All of the wine we consumed on the Locaboire tour was of course Estate Bottled which means the wine was produced from grapes grown on the farm, or by the estate.
Locaboire Wine Tour ends at RoseHall Run, 1241 Greer Rd Wellington, Ontario
The final destination on our Locaboire wine tour was Rosehall Run at 1241 Greer Rd Wellington Ontario where we met Dan Sullivan who is both the winemaker and vineyard manager. He is a lifetime student of the art of making good wine (in large batches) and has been honing his craft for almost fifteen years. This guy is super passionate about his life’s work and very hands on, eager to discuss the smallest details of his craft. At one point he stood over a pump and explained how the mechanism could move whole grapes to the press without breaking or bruising the fruit. He also lectured on the experience of setting up the winery itself, and the geology of the soil as evidenced in the barrel cellar, which was hewn out of the same limestone that makes the grapes so delicious.
Rosehall Run is a new operation, that just opened in 2006 is located in the heart of the Hillier Wine District, Rosehall Run Vineyards founders are Dan Sullivan, Cam Reston, Lynn Sullivan, Cindy Zwicker Reston.
Dan Sullivan is seen here sharing his experiences operating a twenty five acre vineyard that produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay and others. The famous Hillier Clay soil (clay with limestone gravel/rock over fractured limestone) has many properties. The first vintage was 2004 and now Rosehall Run’s estimated annual production drifts between 6,000 – 8,000 cases.
Dan believes the art of winemaking starts in the vineyard and he maintains a hands on approach to managing the vines and vineyard staff, which allows him to keep a close eye on the resulting quality of the fruit. The walk about Rosehall Run Winery got most interesting down in the barrel cellar where Dan did a great interview with The Wine Ladies. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ayB1ycNKwIc
The group tasted several different wines, including 2008 Sullyzwicker rose and red, and a syrah that was made from grapes grown on a neighbour’s property.
We all ended up at The Timberhouse in Brighton Ontario
Lenzr attracts an interesting mix of people, and our assembly was a terrific cross section of contest participants and colourful sponsors; there was great chemistry right from the beginning. By the time the tour ended and we poured ourselves into chairs in the dining hall of the Timberhouse Bed and Breakfast in Prince Edward County, Ontario. The meal was exquisite, especially when accompanied by the many different wines of the region. I put the full Timberhouse dinner menu including the Prince Edward County wine list in the story about the Locaboire wine tour with The Wine Ladies in the Lenzr blog.