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Views from the Ontario Vines

with Fred Couch

Ontario Wine Society
Niagara Chapter visits Calamus Estate Winery

On a cool, late summer’s evening, members and guests of the Niagara Chapter gathered in the tasting room at Calamus Estate Winery in Jordan, Ontario for this sold-out event.  Owners, Pat Latin & Derek Saunders, poured the 2013 White Night (a blend of Vidal and Chardonnay) and 2013 Calvin's Cabernet-Merlot for the reception wines.  When everyone arrived, we proceeded to the upstairs event room.  Niagara Chapter President, Gillian Han, welcomed members and guests and introduced Derek who was our speaker for the evening.

Derek talked about the 2014 vintage in Ontario.  He explained how the “polar vortex” affected some of the grape crop especially the winter-sensitive varietals such as Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc.  The hardier grapes such as Riesling and Cabernet Sauvignon seemed to have survived and the crop may be less but the quality should be good.  Derek said that the cold winter was not as much as a disaster in Niagara as it was for vineyards in the Lake Erie North Shore region of Ontario.  That area suffered from a lot of dead vines.  Derek’s philosophy this vintage year is “go with the flow and see what happens” and let winemaker, Arthur Harder, “do his magic”.

Prior to the BBQ, our two volunteer chefs from the Niagara Chapter’s Operating Committee were presented with “well aged” aprons!  While the chefs were cooking up the burgers and sausages with all the trimmings, a selection of wines from the Niagara Chapter’s cellar were opened.  Side dishes were prepared by members of the Operating Committee and included a warm bacon/potato salad, a Greek pasta salad and a green salad with pine nuts, feta cheese, Mandarin oranges and raisins.

Some of the wines opened during dinner included the 2006 Peninsula Ridge Syrah, 2009 Reif “Magician” Shiraz/Pinot, 2007 Rosewood Estates Merlot, 2007 Mike Weir Pinot Noir, 2008 Kacaba Pinot Grigio, 2009 Malivoire “Ladybug” Rosé and 2007 Wayne Gretzky unoaked Chardonnay.  One of our guests, the assistant winemaker at Kacaba Vineyards Winery, brought a 2008 Kacaba Syrah from his own wine cellar for the group to try.  After dinner an array of desserts were served including Baklava, brownies, butter tarts, watermelon and ice-cream bars.  To accompany dessert, some late harvest and Icewines were opened including a 2010 Pondview Vidal Icewine, 2009 Fielding Select Late Harvest Gewurztraminer, 2011 G. Marquis Cabernet Franc Icewine and a 2012 Pillitteri Cabernet Franc Icewine.

After dinner, Derek opened up the Chronos observatory on the upper deck of the winery.  Fortunately, it was a clear night and those who went up to the observatory were able to observe the rings of Saturn.  It was the perfect ending to a very enjoyable evening.


Story photos by Bruce Jackson.

Additional photos of the event, taken by Bruce Jackson, can be found at:

For more information on Calamus Estate Winery, check out their website at

To learn more about the Niagara Chapter and information on becoming a member, send an e-mail to


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