For all these years, that particular region of Ontario, exclusively the Falls or Niagara on the Lake, has been a destination when we've played tour guide to out-of-town/province/country visitors. Why haven't I thought of taking them - or ME for that matter - to one of the world's greatest kept secret??!!
Secret... what secret you ask?
Did you know that the soil in the Niagara Escarpment and Twenty Valley is rated just as good (if not better) for making great wines than those in Burgundy, France?! I didn't. Not until a couple of weeks ago when I was introduced to one very passionate winery owner/operator, Ed Madronich (on Twitter as @UnfilteredEd), president of Flat Rock Cellars.
|Photo Credit: Nerina Field @nicnacmaniac|
Ed and 18 women... he had his hands full! :)
He started off the tour in his gorgeous tasting room / store which sits atop stilts, cantilevering over the natural slope of the property so as not to disturb the land below (he's VERY conscientious about the effect his winery has on the environment).
The view is breathtaking from all sides of this hexagon shaped, predominantly glass building. As the daughter of one of Canada's greatest & award-winning architects / designers of his time (now retired), I found myself looking at the structures as much, if not more, than the bottles of wine.
Ed made us fall in love with his wine even before tasting it, and tasting it we did - starting with a glass of Riddled Sparkling White. Even at 10am... his wine tastes amazing. Don't be fooled by the screw-caps either, his wine has won awards for good reason! In fact, I don't believe you'll go back to corked wine again!
I was interested in asking Ed why, despite my deep love for red wine, I can no longer drink it?! I had my first allergic reaction to a glass of Merlot on my birthday in 2010. I say first because I wasn't going to let one numb-face moment stop me... not my finest decision in life. After the third consecutive day in bed with a migraine the size of Kentucky, I stopped torturing myself and sadly gave in to only drinking white.
Ed explained to me that the skin of red grapes have a natural histamine in them. I was surprised to hear that it's not the sulfates, in fact there are more sulfates in dried fruits, which I'm not allergic to. He convinced me to try "The Rogue," a white wine by definition but actually tastes like a full-bodied red. It can be served chilled like a regular white or at room temperature like a red. It has quickly become my new best friend!
Other interesting facts about Flat Rock Cellars that impressed me:
- All the grapes are hand-picked, sorted & plunged!
- They use a natural gravity-flow system to minimize handling to maximize the quality.
- They are passionate about protecting the Eco-systems surrounding them.
Flat Rock Cellars’ vineyards are comprised of 80 acres of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Riesling, with a small patch of Gewurztraminer for good measure. We chose these varietals as an integral part of our overall winemaking strategy, because they are best suited to cooler climate of the Niagara Peninsula and more specifically the Twenty Mile Bench. ~ from the Flat Rock Cellars website
After tasting a few different wines, I purchased a bottle of Nadja's Vineyard Riesling (named after Ed's mother) & a bottle of the Rogue for the BlissDom Canada founders. If I wasn't leaving for Vegas the following morning, I would have picked up a few more...
Special thanks to Shannon McKarney for bringing this idea to the wonderful folks at Wine Country Ontario so that we could experience such an amazing winery in a region that has more to offer than we give it credit!
Add a tour of Flat Rock Cellars to your schedule next time you're in the area. It may change your palate forever.
Follow them on Twitter: @winemakersboots or "like" them on Facebook.
Now to get Parliament to Free My Grapes and make it easier for wineries to sell their wines cross Provincial borders...