Rallying around our communities brings us all together, and supporting local businesses is more important than ever. It’s the perfect opportunity to explore what our local communities have to offer. Great wines are made all around the world, including right here in Ontario. With a huge selection, and contactless delivery available to your door, local wineries make it possible to stay safe while drinking great wines. Sommelier Renée Sferrazza dives deeper into local wines and how you can pour local at home.
*Header Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash
Renée Sferrazza is a Court of Master Sommeliers Certified Sommelier, Canadian Association of Professional Sommeliers Board Member, wine educator, wine writer, consultant, and contracted peddler of fermented grape juice. Exploring wine has become more than just a driving force in her life, she is passionate about bringing a different side of wine to the table. Working over a decade in the wine industry in Canada and abroad, Renée showcases a side of wine that is romantic but not pretentious and, above all, practical.
Since the world has been flipped on its head, a quick run to the LCBO has now become an hours-long task. Leaving home lately is more than a little uncomfortable, even when attired in the best PPE manageable, there is a reluctant feeling about being out interacting with others.
However, the thought of not drinking good wine sounds like too much of a sacrifice for a wine lover to handle. Ordering from abroad is a good option, but buying a whole case of one wine sounds like a big commitment. Lucky for Ontario wine lovers, there are great options in our own backyard!
Get to Know Ontario by Drinking Local
Wine has a way of transporting you to worlds away, but it can also bring you closer to places you might have been before. Local wines express the communities around them, and Ontario wines have this quality in spades. With wines made by families, creative people, and using grapes you would not expect. Winemakers might choose to make wine in a classic Old World style or flip the narrative entirely and make everything from funky natural wines to Italian inspired appassimento productions and even sparkling wine in a traditional, Champagne-like style.
Classic grapes of Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling are to be expected. Still, wineries have pushed the envelope planting North American grapes like Baco Noir, Marchal Fosh, L’Acadi Blanc, and Petit Pearl. To more interesting international grapes like Nebbiolo, Malbec, Syrah, Gewurztraminer, Petit Verdot, Melon de Bourgogne, Pinot Meunier, and Pecorino. That’s right. You can get Canadian grown Pecorino in Ontario!
Ontario’s wine regions are defined by three main areas. Running south to north the first is Lake Erie North Shore. A hop skip and a jump away from Detroit this region is characterized by sunshine and lake from wineries. Next up is the Niagara Peninsula. If you are an Ontarian, this is probably the first wine region you have visited, but I bet you didn’t know it’s also the biggest wine region in Canada. The last of the big three is Prince Edward County, lovingly called ‘The County’, this place filled with bucolic buildings and artsy people. Next to these larger areas are emerging regions across southern Ontario, the Huron Shores, Norfolk and Georgian Bay are making great wines as well.
Drinking Local has its Perks
Ontario is home to fantastic wineries, making delicious wine in nearly every style you can imagine. Not only is the juice good, but shopping local has its perks. Ordering from Ontario wineries often comes with free delivery. Orders can be made across the winery’s portfolio, which means there are more options to mix and match and less pressure to order 12 bottles of the same wine. There are no LCBO line-ups, no need to wait outside or rush through the store with no time to peruse the shelves. Shopping online, you can go at your own pace and really look into the wines available. Finally, your order is delivered right to your door and comes with that good feeling of supporting local with every glass.
Local wines to your door
Getting local wines at home is easy, and you don’t even have to leave the house. Orders can be placed with most local wineries online. If you need to find out more about a wine before you go all in, tasting notes can be found on the winery website. In a pinch, a quick call to the winery can get you connected with the staff that can give you all the details you need to know.
There are often order minimums, which can range from 4 to 6 bottles depending on the winery. However, this minimum does not require your wine selections to be the same. Some wineries like Leaning Post Winery in Niagara and Grange of Prince Edward County have created mixed cases offering a selection of their portfolio in one box. Research local wines online on the VQA Ontario website, where under the wineries tab, is a full list of wineries for the whole province.
There is more than just Ice Wine being made in Ontario. Great wineries, winemakers, and an endless stream of wine styles to choose from make it easy to drink well and support local.
If the thought of drinking local wine and supporting Ontario wineries has piqued your interest, join us as Renée, along with Négociant Nicholas Pearce, and Winemaker Ilya Senchuk, leads a virtual ‘Locals Only’ tasting for wine lovers. Renée will be showcasing some of her favorite Sommelier approved wines from Niagara and Prince Edward County wineries in her unique and engaging style. First we’ll learn then we’ll linger to chat connect with each other as we sip some beautiful wine on a Sunday afternoon. Click here, or follow the link in the image below to pick up your ‘Locals Only’ wine case from Renée and join in the fun on May 31st at 4pm!