Monday, June 09, 2008

Stoney Ridge Luncheon, June 8th

The staff and, I sense, the Winery policy is 'customer contentedness'. Perhaps there is a better phrase but until one comes along, I and my BH feel Stoney Ridge goes out of their way to ensure customer contentedness starting from the beautifully maintained gardens to their well crafted wines. Visit the Winery and see for yourself. Now for the 'Luncheon'.

The temperature was 32C on the back deck of the Stoney Ridge Winery and although the awning gave shade to the long table stretched for twelve guests everyone eventually showed the heat. What made it bearable was the delectable light lunch prepared by Stoney Ridge and the anticipated words from guest speaker Jim Warren.

The talk was a combination of many things. A history of grape varieties of southern Ontario - shared by New York state which continues to use many to this day - starting from early days of viniculture circa 1811, through the depression and post-second world war years when grafting of vinifera with resistant north american root stalk began as well as experimentation by newborn wineries with a succession of grape and wine styles, mostly labrusca-like and mostly sweet and/or acidic.

There were some rants about: the LCBO and about ‘glacial speed’ of government support of the Niagara wine industry, LCBO’s requirement for a financial investment in advertising or promotional material/events that give corporate wineries an advantage, and the disproportionate growth of import over Niagara product sales. Not so apparent was a criticism of or advice for the Niagara wine industry itself. Nothing was said about Cellared in Canada product urged by the industry and now a major impact on Niagara VQA product. The higher price of Niagara wines versus imports was attributed to the purity of product or the cost of ‘cool climate’ viniculture and perhaps a criticism of Ontario consumers for lacking loyalty or discrimination for local produce.

Jim was encouraged to write his recollections of Niagara and perhaps gleanings from his oenological 'digs’.

The dinner broke up shortly before 3pm for a taste of Stoney Ridge Icewine. It may not be apparent but I benefited greatly from the afternoon talk and some of the side discussions although I couldn’t contribute much. The wines served by the Winery and by Jim were co-ordinated well with both the courses and with the dialogue. Sorry not to have itemized the samples.

Many thanks to SR and to Mr. Warren, Ww

No comments: