Saturday, January 24, 2009

Winery Signs

Have you ever noticed when you travel through ‘wine country’, no matter the country or locale, the character of many wines are often reflected in the character of the winery. One of the first wineries visited when returning to Ontario was a little bungalow just off King Street in Grimsby. An unassuming home beside a fallow field with a working tractor carrying the owner’s sons to/from the old vines somewhere out of sight. I was introduced to Niagara cottage wines by a mother swept up by the popularity of her son’s wines, offering the hospitality of her kitchen and using the living room to store countless cases of product for sale as if in homage to his success. Daniel Lenko’s classic Old Vines Chardonnay 1999 was our introduction to Niagara whites.

Later we would visit many other wineries with different styles. For instance: the family orientation of Organized Crime Winery, the formality of Vineland Estates, the business veneer of Reif and Tawse, the foreign gloss of Chateau des Charmes.

Last year a blight on the Niagara landscape came in the form of the No. 99 Wayne Gretzky Estates property. Previously the site was the Willow Heights Estates winery, a quaint adobe homestead with front courtyard. Still in the early years of establishing a marketing image it may be excused except for the garish signage on the building and roadside of the well travelled Niagara Wine Route.
Has the signage carried through to the wine or, now with winemaker Craig McDonald, could the 2007 vintage be the turning point for drink-ability? Maybe. Perhaps I should just accept the introduction of ‘hockey puck’ to Wine country?

My opinion, Ww


  • Merlot 2006 VQA, #063966 (Oct 2007 -- 78)
  • Unoaked Chardonnay 2006 VQA, #063826 (Oct 2007 -- 76)
  • Meritage 2006 VQA, #075689 (Jan 2009 -- 80)
  • Unoaked Chardonnay 2007 VQA, #063826 (Jan 2009 -- 85)
  • Merlot 2007 VQA, # 063966 (Jan 2009 -- 89)

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