Spotlight on Mother’s Day Wine Tour
Best Mother’s Day gift ever! My daughters took me on a wine tour with Spotlight Limousine Wine Tours of Prince Edward County.
It wasn’t a totally selfless act, I had five young Mums from Ottawa camping out at our house for two nights while their husbands looked after the kids Unlike a bachelorette wine tour, a Mums’ Escape Wine Tour had wine-loving young women who came with shopping lists and managed in the run of 6 hours to fill the trunk of the limo with bottles.
As Prince Edward County has become my stomping grounds, I was expecting to just be visiting a lot of familiar places, but our driver and guide, Mary Dawn Allen, surprised me at the first stop with a visit to Redtail Vineyard
I had never been to Redtail before. It is named after the two red-tailed hawks that nest on the property. It is off the grid, using solar and geothermal power sources, and is certified organic. Owners, Gilbert Provost and Pauline Joicey, planted their original five acres in 2004 with the help of legendary wine specialist Geoff Hendricks author of A Fool and Forty Acres
Gilbert and Pauline have recently sold the winery but will be staying on for this year’s harvest to transition the new owners who plan to maintain its organic status. They specialize in three wines: Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir. The wines are produced through wild fermentation and have a fresh crispness, redolent with flavour and very low natural sulphite content.
Gilbert doesn’t oak his chardonnay but ages it for three months in the tank stirring weekly with a canoe paddle. His Pinot Gris only has had three-hour skin contact after pressing but has a beautiful golden pink hue. His Pinot Noir is aged in a barrel made by County cooper, Pete Bradford, (see Roll out the Barrel ) from oak trees that had grown on the Red Tail Vineyard for a total terroir effect.
Hint Buy a case of Red Tail wines, they will be the last of their kind as new ownership always brings a new flavour profile.
From there we drove in style to Huff Estates for an elegant lunch and wine tasting. Huff’s winemaker, Frederic Picard, is from Burgundy and his wines never disappoint. As Huff is widely available in Belleville, I just picked up a Riesling, but the girls bought a lot more as it’s not so easily found in Ottawa. They loved the rosé.
Next stop Karlo Estates.winery whose Pinot Noir inspired my last blog Can you spare a bottle of wine?
It was packed. in addition to cars, several tour buses and another limousine, there must have been fifty bicycles outside leaning against the old red barn and Richard Karlo’s hand built dry stone wall. Not sure I’d want to cycle after wine tasting.
We found a table in their winter tasting room formerly the barrel cellar. Owner Sherry Karlo stopped by our table to visit. Since Richard Karlo’s death in 2014, Sherry has worked tirelessly to see his dreams for the winery be achieved including having the winery certified as vegan.
Derek Barnett came on staff in the summer of 2015 as the new winemaker. His resume includes Southbrook Farm and Lailey Vineyards of Niagara, as well as several national awards, His first 2015 Karlo Estate Pinot Noir is now priced at $150 per bottle. The most expensive Pinot Noir in the County.
Sherry and Derek are working on a new wine called Sextus, Richard’s dream of a “holy grail” combination of six of the top Bordeaux red wines including Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Merlot and, the nearly extinct, Carmenere. It will be released on the winery’s 10th anniversary in 2020.
Their Van Alstine fortified rosé was launched on Mother’s Day weekend. A delightful fruity wine perfect as a dessert or after dinner wine. The girls loved it and everyone bought a bottle as a souvenir of the day.
Sandbanks Winery was fourth on our trip. Sandbanks Dunes was well known to everyone on our tour as Dunes is their go-to patio wine. They were happy to try some of the wines only available at the winery. I picked up a bottle of their Canada 150 as a one of a kind wine. The winery was packed with Mums. Women tend to love Sandbanks wine, Owner/winemaker, Catherine Langlois, understands many women have enough complexity in their lives and prefer an easy-going wines.
At our fifth stop Hinterland Winery, I was surprised to find they had closed the co-located County Roads craft brewery and were now concentrating on their original business model of top quality sparkling wine. Their very successful onsite restaurant is reopening soon and the tasting room has now taken over the brewery space.
Owner/winemaker Jonas Newman explained in detail, the different processes for making charmat and traditional method sparkling wines and those bottles of bubbly got the respect they deserved from the girls. The White Cap charmat was a big favourite.
I thought we were done, but our amazing driver Mary Dawn Allen of Spotlight Limousine Wine Tours had one last surprise on her itinerary. A new winery, I hadn’t known about Terra Estate Winery in Consecon. which only opened in 2017.
It should be noted there are several County wineries with Italian roots. Del Gatto Estates, Casa Dea Estate Winery, Hubbs Creek, TerraCello and even Bergeron Estates has an Italian Nonna who directs the cooking.
TerraEstate is different in that its founders are two octogenarian winegrowers Ottavio Marchi and Bruno Tam who had a clear vision of the finished product they want based on their years of experience at family vineyards in the Friuli region of Italy and their wines have a distinct Italian flair very different from similar County wines. Their winemaker is Stefano Moreale.
In addition to the wines, one of the most enjoyable features of the winery is its retail manager Ricardo Cesoa, a master storyteller who invites you in to a group tasting at picnic tables and charms you with stories about the making of their wine.
Come to TerraEstate at the end of your tour and just sit back and enjoy, In a couple of weeks, they will be opening a real Italian restaurant at the winery, so you don’t have to go home right away. Stay for supper and listen to more of Ricardo’s stories and have another glass of their unique Novello wine.
Great story, Ron! And what a fabulous way to celebrate Mother’s Day. ♥️