I love wine country. Any wine country. There is something about driving by fields and fields of vines exploding with new buds, that fills me with a sense of optimism and possibility. It’s proof that people in the world are working hard to make sure I have something to peruse, pick and sample on a Friday night.
Another reason I love wine country…the people here are happy. They look 10 years younger. They’re living the dream and yet they don’t lord it over you. They don’t look down their noses at us hamsters spinning faster and faster on the wheel getting life done. In fact, they are more than happy to have you join their club. They invite you to have a seat. Relax. Release that stress locked between your shoulder blades. These people, they love to share.
A few years ago, my friends Ian and Maria, my husband Steve and I were invited to visit the private cellar of John Howard of Megalomaniac wines. Not only did he give us a lesson that helped spark my interest in wine that extended beyond simply drinking it, he sent us off with a bottle and a restaurant recommendation at a Vineland bistro nearby.
Three years later, Ian and Maria abandonned the pulsing suburb of Oakville for the paradise of Vineland. They golf. They garden. They visit the wineries when there is no crowd, often meeting the winemakers and learning about the best wines in the region. The wineries here work together to help promote their collective success, because as I mentioned before, wine people believe in sharing.
Ian and Maria know their neighbours. They watch the stars and they graciously share their wine discoveries with their “downtown” friends. When I nattered on about the scandals at City Hall, the Senate, the traffic and how “crazy busy” I am, they nodded sympathetically while they opened a bottle of Pinot Gris and poured me a glass.
Ahhhh…thank goodness for good friends.
The wines the vonderful vinelanders shared:
Tawse is a lovely place to stop for a tasting. This Chardonnay Musque 2011 is exceptiona;ly aromatic. Citrus, honeysuckle, maybe a little mango. Chardonnay Musque is actually a clone of Chardonnay that is becoming more and more popular in the Niagara region,. And it’s not a big secret here unfortunately. Sorry, this one is sold out. When it is available it sells for $23.95.
Tina wrote about Calamus is a previous blog. I found this Pinot Gris very fresh with notes of citrus and green apple and a touch of mango. Pinot Gris is believed to be a clone of Pinot Noir and it has been performing very well in Niagara and in BC’s Okanagan.
Featherstone Pinot Noir 2008
Raspberries, a little earthiness are the predominant flavours of this lovely wine produced by Louise Engel and David Johnson. Very well balanced and structured for a grape that is known to be difficult but when the wine maker is successful, oo-la-la! This is a winery I plan to visit. $24.95
To learn more about some of the vonderful vines of Vineland – and to remove that kink between the shoulders – head out to Vineland for an afternoon. Below are three I have tried, and more importantly, three I will happily return to.
Vineland Estates: Gorgeous tasting bar with delicious wines to sample. My favourite was the Chardonnay Reserve and I also really liked the O’Leary Unoaked Chardonnay. http://www.vineland.com/page/home
Megalomaniac – got its name when owner John Howard wanted to name the wines after himself and friends suggested that people would think he was a megalomaniac. Behold, the naming of a winery. Great tasting experience and excellent wines with labels you won’t forget. http://www.megalomaniacwine.com/main.php On his web site, Howard says his wines are meant to be shared with people of equal or greater egos and they pair exceptionally well with delusional fantasies of wealth, power and occasionally, omnipotence. (gotta love those wine people)
Tawse Winery – we stopped in for a quick tasting before hitting megalomaniac and the wines were delicious and so was the experience.http://www.tawsewinery.ca/index.cfm?fuseaction=page.display&page_id=22
Go hang out in Vineland and share your adventure.