Love Local – Vineland Estates, A Niagara Winery with German Roots

On our ongoing journey exploring local wineries,let’s take a look at another long time Niagara resident, Vineland Estates.

Vineland’s story began in 1979 when Hermann Weis, a German winegrower, planted Riesling on the site.  The first winery was established in the original farmhouse in 1983 by Dieter Guttler and he sold the winery to the Weiss family in 1988.  In 1992, the Weiss family sold the winery to John Howard, who renovated the property to its current configuration with the restaurant in the extended old farmhouse, the Carriage House renovated for events, and the tasting room moved back into the expanded winery.  The DeGasperis family purchased Vineland in 2004 and they own it currently.

Allan and Brian Schmidt have been a part of Vineland’s history for decades and share responsibility for its success.  Allan joined in 1987 as winemaker and general manager.  His brother, Brian, joined in 1994 to take over the reins of winemaker when Allan was transitioning to President.  They have generations of winemaking in their blood and grew up in the vineyards of the Okanagan.  Both brothers make sure your Vineland experience is a good one!

Vineland makes a variety of top tier wines, but to me their signature is still Riesling.  I fell in love with it during my first visit in 1985.  At that time, the winery and tasting room were in the old farmhouse (now part of their restaurant) where I sampled several Riesling styles at the kitchen counter that served as their tasting room.  It is still etched in my memory as one of my most unforgettable wine experiences.

You need to drop in on your next trip.  Taste their wine, enjoy their award winning restaurant, and take in the breathtaking scenery of their vineyards sweeping down to a view of the Toronto skyline across Lake Ontario.

Some of their wines are LCBO available, but more are available only at the winery (Note: they will ship).  My ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.

Vineland Estates Semi-Dry Riesling 2018 ★★★★ $14.95 – on sale for $12.95 until September 15 (LCBO)  This is an awesome off dry Riesling for this price point.  Clear, pale lemon in your glass, it shows the lime peel, grapefruit, mineral, and lemon oil with a touch of honey and bright acidity that I find so characteristic of Niagara Riesling.  Serve it with East Asian cuisine, especially if the sauce has some sweetness, or just enjoy it on its own.

Vineland Estates Unoaked Chardonnay 2017 ★★★ $14.95 (LCBO) Unoaked Chardonnay is a summer refresher.  This one has simple sweet golden apple, lemon, pear, and wet stones, finishing just off dry.  I would drink it with seafood, salads, or as an aperitif.  It’s likely to be a crowd pleaser.

Vineland Estates Elevation Riesling 2017 ★★★★½ $19.95 (Vintages) The fruit for this wine is sourced from the St. Urban Vineyard that was planted by Hermann Weis in 1979.  These old vines produce superb quality grapes.  Beautifully concentrated juicy lime and lemon pulp flavours are framed by an amazing seam of acidity and minerals that makes it seem less sweet, along with a developing petrol note.  It’s one of my personal favs.  Serve it up with pork tenderloin and applesauce.

Vineland Estates Rotling 2019 ★★★½ $19.95 (Winery only) Rotling is a very pale Germanic style of Rose made by including red and white grapes (Vidal and Cabernet Franc) at pressing.  Note, this is not blending red and white wine to make Rose, that’s frowned upon in most wine regions. This version is a fresh, off dry wine with pear, apricot, and sweet apple with good length. It pairs up well with almost anything.

Vineland Estates Game Changer Rose 2019 ★★★½+ $16.95 (Winery only) Vineland purchased a state of the art optical sorter several years ago that removes debris and under ripe/spoiled grapes better than people at a sorting table.  The wines produced using this process are labelled Game Changer like this Rose.  You’ll like its red fruit notes from the Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc with the aromatic citrus lift from the addition of a little Riesling.  Match this one with Provencal cuisine with tomatoes, black olives, and garlic.

Vineland Estates Bo-Teek Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2016 ★★★½+ $35.00 (Winery only) If you have not tried Vineland’s dry reds, you should.  This is one for your grilled red meat or hearty mushroom dishes.  Good tannic structure here with medium body with spiced black cherry, black raspberry, red currant, coconut, and vanilla as well as a good finish.

Stemmari Rose 2019 ★★★½+ $13.95 (Vintages) Here we have a Nero D’Avola based Rose from Sicily that represents incredible value.  It’s delightfully pale and medium bodied with delicious notes of strawberry, lemon, and spicy white pepper.  The wonderful acidity makes it a good pairing for many foods.  Might we suggest seafood, salads, or even pasta with tomato sauce?

Lirica Primitivo di Manduria 2015 ★★★★ $17.95 (Vintages) From the sun drenched slopes around the village of Manduria in Puglia comes this ripe Primitivo with a little sweetness.  Deeply coloured, it shows intense sweet blackberry, black cherry, black plum, prune, wood, and vanilla notes.  Grilled Italian sausage or pasta with heaps of Parmesan or Romano cheese will suit it perfectly.

Le Gravillas Séguret Côtes du Rhône-Villages 2017★★★★ $16.95 (Vintages) This medium bodied predominantly Grenache based Cotes du Rhone Villages (Cru) has fruit that goes on and on. That means copious ripe, luscious strawberry with red cherry, plum, and spice along with a modest woodsy, vanilla note. The finish lingers. Try it with almost anything off the grill from meat to vegetables, but lamb or eggplant dishes with tomatoes, garlic, and black olives would work especially well.