Skip to content

Winemaking, Judging and Celebrating: Oakville Sommelier

Vidal Blanc grapes, NCTW vineyard | C. Silversides
Vidal Blanc grapes, NCTW vineyard | C. Silversides

September so far has been filled with great grape and wine experiences from volunteering at the World Wine Awards of Canada (WWAC) in Toronto to winemaking classes and an i4c volunteer party in Niagara-on-the-Lake. At the WWAC I served many flights of wine to judges who evaluated the hundreds of wines submitted from wineries around the world by blind tasting, a process which allows judges to formulate an unbiased opinion about each wine.

Rose wine flight at WWAC Rose wine flight at WWAC

Rose wine flight at WWAC

Photo by: © C. Silversides

All of the wines submitted are sold in Canada and fall into these categories: $15 and under, $15-$25, and $25-$50. I understand that the scores will be published by WineAlign in October.

So where does it all begin? From grape to glass it is certainly a process, beginning in the vineyard. Last week at the Niagara College Teaching Winery (NCTW) in the Basic Winemaking course I watched two tons of Baco Noir grapes from the college vineyard get crushed and got to taste the juice before it reached the destemmer-crusher machine.

Baco Noir grapes at NCTW Baco Noir grapes at NCTW

Baco Noir grapes at NCTW

Photo by: © C. Silversides

It was sweet and quite good! The NCTW Winery and Viticulture program was established in 2000, and has been run at their Wine Visitor + Education Centre since its opening in 2009. Sitting among 38 acres of vines located on the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus, it is the first fully licensed teaching winery in Canada. The college produces award winning wines and offers educational tours and tastings to the public.

This week I attended the volunteer party for the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration (i4c) which was held in the Niagara Peninsula wine region for the fourth year this past July. It was a fun evening visiting with other volunteers at the Inniskillin Winery who served up a delicious BBQ burger dinner for us. We drank with it, of course, Chardonnay!

i4c volunteer celebration i4c volunteer celebration

i4c volunteer celebration

Photo by: © C. Silversides

Afterwards we enjoyed more Chardonnay and popcorn as we watched Bottleshock, an entertaining film about the early days of winemaking in California, and the infamous Paris Wine Tasting of 1976 known as the Judgment of Paris. This blind wine tasting of Chardonnay, and red wines Bordeaux and Cabernet Sauvignon from France and California was organized by wine expert Steven Spurrier in which California wines won the top award in both categories. Spurrier was also the special guest for the 2013 i4c leading the panel discussion: Global Perspectives on Chardonnay.

Speaking of wine, beyond Oakville the Niagara Wine Festival is kicking off opening night with wine, food, and entertainment at Montebello Park in St. Catharines tonight. The Grapevine Festival, and Steam Whistle's Oktoberfest are happening in Toronto tomorrow on September 21st.

So there you have it: Winemaking, Judging, Celebrating