The first time I visited Stanners Vineyard in 2012, I was told they specialized in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Almost every Prince Edward County winery I visited that year were doing the same two wines. How do you compete I wondered, when all 30 of the other wineries in the region were featuring the same two wines.
Father and son team, Cliff and Colin Stanners have diversified a little over the years with one of the best County Pinot Gris which is only made in small batches, a Riesling and a Cabernet Franc, but the focus and the love has been on the Pinot Noir and this year they are getting national and international recognition for that dedication.
Their 2014 Barrel Select Pinot Noir $39.99 won Double Gold medals at the All Canadian World Championships. The same wine won Silver at the international Decanter World Wine Awards in London England. Meanwhile, their second Pinot Noir 2014 VQA Prince Edward County won Silver at Intervin and has been chosen by Christopher Waters to be one of 100 best Canadian wines to be entered into the Six Nations Wine Challenge in Sydney Australia. The six nations are USA New Zealand, Australia, Chile, South Africa and Canada. This wine received scores of 91 by three of Canada’s leading wine critics.
In Prince Edward County, Ontario, Norman Hardie, Closson Chase and Rosehall Run get most of the fanfare for Pinot Noir. Several other wineries like Exultet, Hubbs Creek, The Old Third and Long Dog have cult followings for their Pinot Noir as well but outside the County, Stanners tended to fly under the radar up until now. Not all of these wineries would have entered the All Canadian Wine Championships but with hundreds of wineries from coast to coast competing as well as the other honors and awards they’ve received this year, Stanners has certainly claimed their place in the sun.
Equally notable is the Double Gold for Amy Baldwin winemaker at Waupoos Estate Winery for her 2016 Cabernet Franc Appassimento. $64.95. Waupoos offers a wide range of hybrid and vinifera wines that are usually some of the most affordable wines in the County although not always award winners.
With this win, Amy Baldwin is staking her claim as not just an extremely versatile winemaker but also one who can compete with the elites when money is not an object.
Waupoos Estate Winery also won Bronze for single red hybrids for their 2016 Baco Noir Appassimento $49.95. And to prove that she is as good a cidermaker as a winemaker, Amy Baldwin won Bronze in her work at Clafeld’s fruit Winery and Ciderhouse for her Rose Hip Cider which sells at $3.75 and a second bronze for her work at 401 Cider Brewery for her Orchard Blend Cider $3.25
Another pleasant surprise was Three Dog Winery owner/winemaker John Squair winning gold in the Hybrid White Blend Category with their Dog House White staking its claim in a category overrun by Nova Scotia’s Tidal Bay wines
Huff Estates head winemaker Frederic Picard brought in the most medals to the County at the #ACWC with Silver for their 2014 Pinot Noir Reserve $35 and Bronze for each of their 2014 Merlot $40, their 2016 Vidal $19.00 , their and for their 2014 South Bay Reserve Chardonnay $30.00.
Closson Chase, winemaker Keith Tyers, won Silver for his 2016 K J Watson Pinot Gris $22.95. Casa Dea Estate Winery also took Silver in the same category for for Paul Battilana’s Pinot Gris 2016 $18.95 and Bbronze for his 2016 Melon de Burgoyne $21.95. Up until the last two years, Casa Dea used to sell their Melon de Burgoyne grapes to Norman Hardie but are finding this wine is too popular to part with any of its crop.
Lacey Estates won bronze for its 2012 Dorland Reserve in the Bordeaux Blend category. Expect to see more from Lacey Estates in future years. Owner winemaker ,Kimball Lacey was formerly an associate winemaker and viticulturalist at Closson Chase, he is now concentrating full time on his own winery and with his daughter Emily in winemaking at Niagara College, this may become a family affair.
For those stocking up a wine cellar, 2014 was clearly a good vintage year in Prince Edward County.