2015 Vintages

Vintage
2015
Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
210
Release Date
May 1, 2016
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes:

The story of our 2015 Sauvignon Blanc is filled with Good and Bad news.

The bad news starts with the amount of damage sustained by the vines after a second consecutive harsh winter. Very few of the suckers that were brought up to become new trunks in 2014 actually made it into the 2015 growing season. There were those that looked like they were going to bud out, only to agonizingly collapse a couple of weeks later. The sheer number of dead buds made for disproportionate growth and vine vigour issues – meaning lots of extra work. The far north end of the block looked more like the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse than a vineyard, replete with half-dead, split trunks oozing crown gall tumours…

The good news is that we had any Sauvignon Blanc fruit at all! In fact, 2015 was an amazing growing season for whites, with moderate heat and cool nights during peak ripening time. The lighter crop ripened very quickly, ultimately leading to intense concentration of flavours and aromatics. I stuck with my tried and true formula in the winery, with 75% of the juice fermented and aged in my trusty old French oak barrels and 25% done in tank. The finished wine was blended, filtered and then bottled on April 6th, 2016.

Aromatics: “a nose for days”, candied pear, lemon/lime, melon, grilled pineapple
Palate: rounder, riper, more weighty mouthfeel; pineapple, hint of lime; enjoyed best at cellar temperature (60-65°F)
Vintage
2015
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
110
Release Date
May 1, 2016
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes:

Our Pinot Gris sustained similar winter damage to its neighbouring Sauvignon Blanc, which was surprising because it is considered a much more winter-hardy varietal. Another sobering reminder of just how much sustained extreme cold the vines experienced in the winter of 2014.

The very light crop (about 40% of a normal year) made the vineyard work easier to stay on top of, ultimately producing some of the cleanest fruit we’ve ever seen in that block. Pinot Gris is my favourite varietal to walk through in the fall because of the cool look of the tight, metallic-pink coloured clusters and the intense aromas in the air. Tasting each berry is a treat, as flavours explode in your mouth. You can almost anticipate the texture of the wine they will soon create.

We harvested our ripe Pinot Gris on September 18, 2015. Believe it or not, one of the challenges I face crafting my whites is finding good, used white wine barrels. It seems that more and more winemakers are holding onto their prized neutral wood – and I can’t blame them! I was fortunate this past vintage to pick up some great older white barrels from J.L. Groux at Stratus, and about 66% of my 2015 Pinot Gris juice was the direct beneficiary. All juice was fermented with R2 yeast and likely went through a partial, wild malolactic fermentation.

Appearance: golden pink colour
Aromatics: honey, peach, vanilla, Honeycrisp apple, cream soda
Palate: velvety texture, good balance with ample acidity; important not to drink too cold – 60°F is good
Vintage
2015
Varietal
“Jean’s Block” Riesling
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
130
Release Date
May 1, 2016
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes:

Many experts feel that it takes about ten years for a planting of grapes to really come into its own. I feel like the wine form “Jean’s Block” is getting more complex with each vintage and it bodes well for this relatively young, 9-year old Riesling block.

What I like most about Riesling is their reliability from a growing perspective. They crop well, ripen without issue and always seem to have enough acidity to make a nice wine, whether your preferred style is dry or off-dry.

We harvested the 2015 crop on October 8th and fruit came in at 18.3 degrees Brix. Previous vintages have proved to me that “two yeasts are better than one” in terms of wine complexity, so I split the juice into two tanks: 900L fermented with W15 and 375L with R2. What resulted was one of the longest fermentations I’ve ever experienced – the ferments started on October 16th and didn’t reach a “balance” point (Specific Gravity 1.003) until December 1st! This was not done by choice, but the results were a pleasant surprise. Sometimes yeast just become a little sluggish in high-acid/low pH must. There were times when I thought the fermentation was stuck, but I chose not to re-inoculate and patience paid off in the end.

I love the nose produced by Clone 49 Riesling – it’s just so fresh and intense! We bottled this wine on April 6th, 2016.

Aromatics: apricot, peach, lemon, green apple
Palate: both sweet and sour notes perceptible; resolves into crisp, dry balance

2014 Vintages

Vintage
2014
Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
196
Release Date
May 1, 2015
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Aromatics: delightfully complex; ripe pineapple, bubble gum, lemon, grass, gooseberry, vanilla
Palate: smooth texture and great balance (zest!); flavours of lemon/lime, grilled pineapple; best enjoyed at 10-12°C - don’t serve too chilled!!
Vintage
2014
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
107
Release Date
May 1, 2015
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Aromatics: ripe apple, pear, honey, melon, cream soda
Palate: honey, ripe tropical notes (star fruit?); slightly off-dry with great texture; serve at 10-12°C, any colder will mask flavours and overemphasize the alcohol
Vintage
2014
Varietal
Riesling
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
127
Release Date
May 1, 2015
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Aromatics: crazy aromatic intensity! Can’t really put a finger on the exact notes - is there such a thing as a 'Tropical' Granny Smith apple? Hints of peach, apricot and some floral element
Palate: slightly off-dry with vibrant acidity; flavours include lemon/lime and peach juice; each sip leaves you wanting more!

2013 Vintages

Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
185
Release Date
May 1, 2014
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Coming soon...
Varietal
Riesling
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
108
Release Date
May 1, 2014
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Coming soon...
Vintage
2013
Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
145
Release Date
May 1, 2016
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes:

In looking back at my harvest notes for the 2013 Pinot Noir, I’m immediately drawn to the “Fruit Condition” section where I have written: excellent; “Some of the nicest we’ve ever picked.” – Wilma. I remember it well, and it makes me smile as much now as it did when she said it on September 18, 2013.

We hand-picked 90 boxes from rows 3, 4 & 5 and 64 boxes from rows 8 & 9. These are the rows that I traditionally use, and they represent a good cross section of terroir from our oldest vines. The Pinot was sorted four times: first I do a quick pass on my own before we harvest to remove any obvious rot; then each picker must inspect clusters as they cut them; a third inspection takes place as boxes are loaded onto the wagon and finally again as they are dumped into the crusher. Those select few Pinot berries that made the final cut ended up filling two fermenting bins.

After a four day cold soak at 18°C, the first bin containing rows 3, 4 & 5 was inoculated with RC212 yeast and the second bin (rows 8 & 9) was inoculated with W15. Fermentation lasted about a week, with peak temperature around 34°C. Wines were then inoculated with malolactic bacteria strain MBR31 and racked to barrel. After 24 months in oak (100% French, 20% new), the wine was blended and eventually bottled on April 6, 2016.

Aromatics: “Like walking into a pantry”; ripe cherry, dried spices, truffle
Palate: light velvety texture; good balance; enjoyable now, but just enough tannin to make you want to lay it down for a while
Vintage
2013
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
100
Release Date
May 1, 2016
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes:

A later Spring than 2012 (few are earlier) led to an interesting vintage that felt like a constant uphill battle. The growing degree days were just not adding up, so an effort was made to dramatically reduce crop level at veraison. Then we waited…and waited some more…until all the leaves had fallen and finally picked our Cab on November 15, 2013.

The fruit was quite desiccated on the vine at this stage, almost a late harvest look, and we actually ended up with close to 23 degrees Brix and reasonable acidity. The drastic thinning gamble had worked, but at the expense of tonnage. We ended up with only 117 picking boxes of Cab Sauv from five rows that would have normally yielded 150 boxes.

The fruit was processed into two bins and after a four day cold soak, Bin 1 was inoculated with FX10 and Bin 2 with F15. Finished wine was blended, inoculated with MBR31 bacteria and racked to barrel where it would spend the next two years. Two new French barrels were used (Taransaud and Billon) along with a couple of wily veterans. The 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon was bottled on April 6th, 2016. This wine will surprise many people.

Aromatics: cherry, blackberry, anise, loose-leaf tea
Palate: flavours as intense as the nose; nice texture; savoury; integrated tannins make it both drinkable and cellar-worthy
Vintage
2013
Varietal
Syrah
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
100
Release Date
May 1, 2016
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes:

*See 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon for the challenges associated with this growing season.

As we nervously hung our Syrah into November for the first time, I wasn’t sure I’d ever be writing a description for a Five Rows 2013 Syrah – the grapes just didn’t look right. They tasted fine, the lab numbers were good, but the berries looked wrinkled and raisin-like.

A harvest date was finally settled upon, but to our astonishment we awoke that day to….frozen Syrah-sicles! An overnight frost had thrown a wrench into the plans, making for a unique harvesting and de-stemming experience. The stems were so brittle that I was concerned the berries wouldn’t properly separate from the rachis going through the de-stemmer, adding unwanted bits of stem to the must. In the end – I needn’t have fretted, as the semi-frozen berries rattled off the rachis with ease.

82 boxes were harvested from Clone 7 rows 2 & 3, along with 57 boxes from Clone 100 (“Old Block”) rows 1 & 2. The Clone 7 was inoculated with RX60 and the Old Block with F15. Both bins were pressed after a week-long fermentation. The whole batch was aged in French oak; three older barrels and one new (DAMY Rouge).

This wine was incredibly smooth from the get-go, and frankly I have no idea why. Perhaps it was the extended hang time and wilted berries, perhaps it was the frost – yet more proof that the most unique wines often result from unforeseen circumstances. It was bottled on April 6th, 2016.

Aromatics: lavender, cassis, vanilla, cooked meat, thyme (“Smells like a lamb dinner” – Wilma)
Palate: smooth as silk, very savoury, hint of pepper, finish dominated by dark fruit
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
106
Release Date
May 1, 2014
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Coming soon...

2012 Vintages

Vintage
2012
Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
164
Release Date
May 1, 2015
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Aromatics: cherry, violets, cassis, earth
Palate: flavours of ripe cherry, dried cranberry, spice; good acid/balance; comes at you in layers
Vintage
2012
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
128
Release Date
May 1, 2015
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Aromatics: intense ripe blackberry, cherry, blueberry preserve; might be the best thing I’ve ever smelled
Palate: mouth-filling intense flavour with great length; evolved but ample tannin, smooth finish
Vintage
2012
Varietal
Syrah
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
109
Release Date
May 1, 2015
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Aromatics: red licorice, white peppercorn, cherry, lavender, hemp
Palate: smooth texture and pleasing weight; flavours of cherry, red plum, pepper; enough acid to lift the flavours
Varietal
"Jean’s Block" Riesling
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
96
Release Date
May 1, 2013
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Our Clone 49 Riesling vines budded out very early in 2012, perhaps two weeks ahead of a normal year. Although this may sound advantageous, it was actually problematic. A sudden frost followed bud-break and many fragile buds were frozen dead. Luckily, we left an extra cane that could be tied down to add a few precious growing shoots to the sparse canopy. The summer growth period proceeded nicely with warm temperatures and little rain. A lighter crop load required less thinning and ripened quickly near the end of August.

Winery: The bulk of our Riesling is purchased by Fielding Estate Winery. In talking with Winemaker (and friend) Richie Roberts, I learned that he likes to harvest Riesling with fairly high acidity to give some vibrant life to the resultant wine. As a bit of a "Riesling rookie" myself, I decided to experiment with this approach and harvest our 2012 crop at a higher TA value than I normally would. We brought in our Riesling on September 13th (earlier than ever) and the pressed juice tasted beautiful! The higher TA meant a juice with lower pH, and consequently a sluggish start to the fermentation. Eventually, with the help of a little extra nutrient, the W15 yeast hit its stride and worked at a nice slow pace over the next month and a half. The fermentation was finally halted on Halloween at a specific gravity of 1.006, a point where I perceived balance on my palate. Over the winter months the wine was protein and cold stabilized prior to coarse filtration. We bottled 96 cases on March 26, 2013. The 2012 "Jean’s Block" Riesling is now available for purchase in our barn.

Alcohol: 12.0%

2011 Vintages

Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
99
Release Date
April 2, 2012
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: The fight for quality Sauvignon Blanc grapes begins in earnest during the long, cold nights of winter. Its buds are amongst the most sensitive of all Vitis vinifera cultivars. Providing those buds make it through the rigours of winter and frosts of spring, the job only intensifies. Picture the most vigorous growing vine or weed in your garden, then imagine somehow trying to harness it’s raw desire to grow, but not so much to harm its delicate fruit. Now you're talking Sauvignon Blanc!

Thanks to a cooler than normal spring, the 2011 growing season got off to a lazy start. A hot, dry summer helped put things back on track, with Sauv Blanc ripening right around schedule in late September. One vineyard trick we've employed in recent years is to remove leaves around the clusters early in the season on the cooler, "morning sun" (east-facing) side of the canopy only. Then later in the season, after veraison, we remove leaves from the "afternoon side" as the daytime heat subsides. This helps preserve flavour and acidity in the ripening berries and prevents sunscald.

750 kg of fruit was harvested from each of our two Sauvignon Blanc Vineyard blocks on September 22, 2011. The conditions for fruit ripening were perfect. Acid levels (TA) hovered around 7.5 to 8.0 g/L, but threatened to fall as warm conditions loomed later in the week. The decision to take both blocks in one day was made.

As usual, the younger clay-based block was slightly higher in sugar (22.3Brix) than the old-vine, sandy loam block (20.6). I always find it difficult to describe just how intense the flavours are in these ripe Sauv Blanc berries. Best just to visit us in September and sneak a few for yourself!

Four older French oak barrels (2 x 2007 DAMY and 2 x 2003 Berthomieu) were used to ferment 75% of the juice. The rest was fermented in stainless steel. All fermentations were carried out with X5 yeast at an average temperature of 12C. The fermentations were stopped at a specific gravity of 0.998 or, unscientifically, when I thought they tasted good.

Technical data: 12.4% alcohol
Aromas: citrus (lemon/lime), grilled pineapple, gooseberry
Palate: lime, star fruit, great balance
Varietal
"Jean's Block" Riesling
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
48
Release Date
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Many oenophiles consider Riesling to be the best-suited white grape varietal for Niagara regional terroir. It's a treat to grow, with good crop levels and minimal finicky hand-labour compared to tight-clustered Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc. It has decent winter hardiness and tends to thrive in our slightly “cooler climate” (my current air conditioning bill might disagree with this assertion).

Vinifying Riesling is where things get a little more complicated. So many different styles and so many variables to experiment with. Although we grow Alsatian Clone 49 in Jean's Block, the resultant wines I've crafted tend to be an amalgam of varying Riesling profiles. The 2011 vintage features the subtle, mineral-laden nose of an Alsace Riesling, but the richness and depth of flavour of my favourite German styles. The natural acidity is the strength of the wine, balanced with a touch of residual sugar. Over the years, I've found that Riesling takes a while to open up after the stress of filtration and bottling, hence the later release date. Riesling fans will tell you that it’s a mistake to drink it too young anyway!

In the ongoing quest to improve wine quality, we decided to employ a different pressing technique in the fall of 2011 - a gentle, whole-bunch squeeze in our old wooden basket press. It proved to be very time consuming and a was huge headache to clean out, but I think the end product justifies the extra effort. I also experimented with a different yeast, R2, on 50% of the juice, while using my old standby, W15, on the other half. Fans of our Pinot Gris might recognize some of the elements that R2 brings – rounder mouthfeel, tropical fruit notes – in this Riesling.

2011 "Jean's Block" Riesling is a wine that means a lot to me personally. I welcome you to come by starting this weekend to give it a try. There are only 48 cases available, so we have to limit to 4 bottles per customer.

Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
104
Release Date
May 1, 2014
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Coming soon...
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
102
Release Date
April 2, 2012
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: I relish the challenges involved in successfully crafting Pinot Gris each vintage. From thinning and leaf removal decisions to barrel/tank ratio and residual sugar content, the complex set of variables is alluring. Every choice made affects the end product and must be considered carefully. I've fallen asleep on countless nights labouring over such decisions. In the end, it only makes a winemaker appreciate the finished product that much more.

We harvested 1.5 tonnes of Pinot Gris on September 22, 2011. The fruit was adequately ripe (23Brix) but starting to show signs of breaking down and rapidly losing acidity. You come to realize that Pinot Gris tells you when to harvest, you don’t tell it.

After gentle pressing and a four-day cold settle, the juice was racked to three older French oak barrels and one tank. It was then inoculated with R2 yeast at the normal rate of 300 ppm. The fermentation proceeded very slowly over the next month with an average temperature of 11C, until being stopped at a specific gravity of 0.998 and total alcohol of 13.0%. Bentonite fining and coarse filtration were carried out before bottling 102 cases on April 2, 2012.

Visually, this Pinot Gris shows a distinct pinkish hue from the brief amount of skin contact. The striking aromatics include apple, pear torte, vanilla, almond and tropical fruit nuances. The weighty yet velvety smooth texture resolves into flavours of ripe apple, melon, honey and cinnamon. It truly leaves you wanting another sip.

Cellaring: 2012-2014
Serving: serve slightly chilled (10C) and decant if consumed in 2012
Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
148
Release Date
May 1, 2014
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Coming soon...
Varietal
Syrah
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
100
Release Date
May 1, 2014
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Coming soon...

2010 Vintages

Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
82
Release Date
April 6, 2011
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Roughly one tonne of fruit was harvested on September 7, 2010. Half the fruit was sourced from our younger, more clay-based block of Sauvignon Blanc, while the other half came from the older vines located in predominantly clay-loam soil.  Each block contributes distinct characters to the final blend.

The younger "clay" block tends to be less vigorous, leading to increased fruit exposure and consequently lends the riper, more tropical notes to the blend. The older "clay-loam" block vines are extremely vigorous and require more intense hand labour. Generally, they are slightly more shaded, leading to the fresh citrus aromatics and crisp flavours that are classic characteristics of cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc.

As I mentioned last season, the key to achieving the full complement of flavours and aromas is a long, cool ferment carried out in a combination of older French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks. For this wine I opted to go with a two-thirds barrel (2003 Jacques Garnier) and one-third tank fermentation regimen. The tank-fermented portion was allowed to age in oak for a few months prior to final blending.  All fermentations were carried out at around 13 degrees Celsius with X5 yeast.

Technical data: 13.0% alcohol, 10.7 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.46
Aromas: vanilla, pineapple, lemon, lime
Palate: melon, lime, balanced finish
Varietal
Riesling "Jean's Block"
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
78
Release Date
April 6, 2011
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: The 2010 vintage was a hot one. Niagara vineyards amassed more growing degree days than any year in current recorded history. This is perfect for ripening reds but can present challenges to producing crisp, aromatic whites. It was very easy to produce "flabby" and 'blousy' white wines in 2010 if grapes were over-thinned, over-exposed to sunlight or left hanging too long.

We harvested and pressed about one tonne of Riesling from Jean’s Block on Septmeber 30, a full two weeks earlier than in 2009. The picking decision was based strictly on acid and flavour. Around mid-September the grapes had plenty of sugar (19 degrees brix) to make the style of Riesling I was after, but it took a while to coax out the wonderful flavours I remembered from last year. Waiting too much longer to pick was a risk, however, as acid levels were declining quickly in the late summer sun. So September 30th was the day I pulled the trigger.

Following the addition of pectinase enzyme, pressed juice was cold-settled at 4 degrees Celsius for two days. The clear rackings were then inoculated with W15 yeast, a great choice for optimizing bright fruit characters in aromatic whites. It's also a good cool-fermenter, able to withstand temperatures as low as 10C.

I was able to stretch the ferment over two months at an average temperature of 11C. It was stopped at a specific gravity of 1.005, a level that I felt exhibited balance to my palate. You have to be careful when stopping a ferment for off-dry balance as sometimes the carbon dioxide bubbles can lead to a raised perception of acidity, tempting you to halt the ferment too soon. My rule of thumb is to taste often until I find the right balance, then wait 12 hours before killing the ferment. It seems to have worked for most of my whites thus far.

Over the course of the next three months, the wine was cold stabilized, fined with bentonite and sterile filtered. 78 cases were bottled on April 6, 2011. As with the 2009, this Riesling went through a lengthy period of bottle shock before I was comfortable that it had returned to the wine I remembered in tank. Consequently, we waited to release the Riesling three months later than our other 2010 whites. In the end this proved advantageous, as the 2010 Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris both sold out very quickly.

Aromas:  citrus, peach, floral notes
Palate: a surprisingly weighty Riesling, it has ample acid to balance the slight amount of residual sugar; pleasing minerality and fruit characters
Varietal
Shiraz
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
103
Release Date
May 1, 2013
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: It will be remembered as one of the warmest vintages Niagara has ever seen. The growing season started early and never slowed down. Precipitation was spotty but adequate - just perfect for wine grapes. We harvested the Syrah on October 11, much earlier than any other vintage. Sugar levels hit an all-time high (24°Brix) and the skins and seeds showed excellent maturity. Three rows were selected from the older Clone 100 block (#2,9,10) along with two rows from the younger Clone 7 block (#4,8).

The fruit was de-stemmed into bins, which were then sealed for a four-day cold soak on the skins. Fermentations were allowed to start wild, then inoculated with a yeast known as "Enoferm Syrah" (an isolate from the Côtes du Rhône in France). It was chosen for this ripe fruit because it’s known to be a good glycerol producer for smoother mouthfeel with typical aromas including violets, raspberries, cassis, strawberries and black pepper. Fermentations lasted about 8 days with temperature peaks around 28°C. I could tell early on that this wine would one day be something special!

Five barrels were filled following pressing. The Clone 7 fruit was racked to a new Taransaud barrel and a two-year-old Billon, while the Clone 100 fruit was split between two older French and one American oak barrel. The wine was allowed to mature in oak for 24 months. We bottled 118 cases of this Syrah on March 26th, 2013. This wine, along with all of our 2010 reds, is now available for purchase.

Alcohol: 13.4% Cellaring: 3-5 years
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
78
Release Date
April 6, 2011
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Pinot Gris is such a labour intensive variety to grow, it better damn well turn out to be a good wine! It would not be worth the extra hand-work and stressful pre-harvest nail biting to produce a mediocre, uninteresting wine. "Good" Pinot Gris is without a doubt the most sought-after grape variety by premium Niagara wine producers at the moment. It even has enough clout to be used as a bargaining tool by many growers to help them unload their lesser in demand, easier to grow varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.

Getting good fruit is only part of the equation. Each winemaker seems to have their own method of coaxing out the best in their Gris. A few years back, a couple of wise Creekside winemakers introduced me to the benefits of fermenting a portion of Pinot Gris in older French oak barrels. I've experimented with different oak/stainless blends ever since. The barrel-fermented wine always seems to have weightier mouthfeel and more complex aromatics, so in 2010 I decided to go with a 2/3 barrel, 1/3 tank final blend. I’ve always had good luck with a yeast called R2, so I stuck with it and fermented at the coldest temperature the yeast could tolerate. This led to a slow and beautiful month-long ferment.

Technical Data: 13.0% alcohol, 10.5 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.60 Aromas: honey, apple, pear, guava
Palate: vanilla, melon and spice
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
103
Release Date
May 1, 2013
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: The 2010 Cab Sauv was harvested on October 28th and 29th. If we push it, Howie, Wilma and I can hand-harvest and process about 1.5 to 2 tonnes in a day. We normally tackle the Clone 169 block first, then bring in the Old Block Cab on day two. It's always a relief to get through these two days as the Cab Sauv is the last variety we harvest each year. Needless to say, we slept in on October 30th.

70 picking boxes were harvested from rows 4 and 13 in the Clone 169 Block and 78 boxes from rows 5 and 8 in the Old Block. Following a four-day cold soak, the two bins of fruit were inoculated and warmed to start fermentation. Two yeasts were chosen to work with the specific strengths of each vineyard. The slightly riper Clone 169 fruit was fermented with FX10, known to retain polyphenolic potential (structure and colour), release and bind polysaccharides, and aid in the expression of terroir through minimal "fermentation odour" production. The Old Block was inoculated with CSM, a yeast that specializes in producing intense aro­matic profiles of berries, spice and licorice, while concurrently reducing vegetal aromas. A winemaker can only hope that these yeasts live up to such bold claims!

Finished wines were racked to four barrels: Clone 169 to a new Taransaud and two-year-old Billon; Old Block to a two-year-old Taransaud and five-year-old DAMY. Through the years I've found that Taransaud barrels do magic for my Cab Sauv. They have a way of "framing" the fruit components of the wine, while contributing just the right amount of oak spice and wood tannin. I usually opt for a tight grain oak, medium toast level with three years of air drying to balance the longer time our red wines spend in barrel. After 24 months in oak, the 2010 Five Rows Cabernet Sauvignon was blended and allowed to bulk age in a tank for five more months. This wine is now available for purchase.

Aromas: blueberry, cherry, Stanley prune, mint.

Palate: soft tannin, ripe cherry, savoury mouthfeel/flavour.

Cellaring: I personally enjoy drinking this wine now (call it winemaker bias), but it should really be cellared for at least another six months. It has the tannin and structure to age and improve for many years to come, I prefer not to put a limit on it.

Alcohol: 13.3%
Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
143
Release Date
May 1, 2013
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Simply put, 2010 was an ideal vintage to grow grapes. Heat when you needed it and just wet enough for excellent vine growth, but not excessive vigour. The risk with Pinot Noir in these warm, dry conditions is overripening. Pushing the grapes to a point where they almost become “un-Pinot like”. For that reason we harvested our crop on September 4th - a full week earlier than we ever had before. All ripening parameters were dialed in. Sugars high, but not so high as to make the wine overly alcoholic (22 degrees brix) and decent enough acid (TA 7.5) to keep the pH low and aid in ageability. This would be a bold Pinot for sure, but not so bold that our Terroir couldn’t shine through.

We harvested 8 rows from our Old Block and 3 rows from our new Clone 777 block. The fruit was sorted, chilled and processed into bins for traditional punch-downs during fermentation. I chose to let the three bins cold soak for a few days and let the fermentations start via indigenous yeast. Each bin was then inoculated with a different cultured yeast to add complexity to the overall blend. The 777 bin was treated with a strain called BRL97, while the the old block was fermented with RC212 and W15. The fermentations lasted about 10 days whereupon each bin was pressed to barrel (25% new oak, all French). The wine was allowed to mature for 24 months in oak before bottling 143 cases on March 26th, 2013.

In the end this is a Pinot Noir that should age gracefully for at least another five years. It’s the kind of wine that sneaks up on you and demands another sip, another glass.

2009 Vintages

Varietal
Riesling
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
36
Release Date
August 30, 2010
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: We often discuss a vineyard year in terms of the wonderful wines that result. I've certainly heard many superlatives thrown around in describing just that from Niagara's 2007 Vintage. For a change, I'd like to give a different account of 2007, one of extreme vineyard challenges and of personal highs and lows. This is the story of Jean’s Block.

I was blessed on February 24th of 2007 to marry my soulmate. Our honeymoon would have to wait, however, as my hard working new spouse still had some schooling to take care of. Having just moved back from the easy-goin' east coast, I was about to embark on my first summer at the helm of our yet to be named winery. There wasn’t really any wine yet, just nerves and self-doubt. Were we making the right decision? Am I really a winemaker? There was only one way to find out.

My mother-in-law, Jean Tkaczyk, was always a fan of Riesling. She'd made it clear to me over the years at many lively family dinners that I'd better make her a Riesling one day! I'd always promise her that I would, but there was that small hurdle of not having any Riesling grapes in our vineyard. It was never a variety that our winery clients had desired, so it had never been planted. I fondly remember a trip that Jean, Tanya and I made to Vineland Estates one summer to taste their renowned Rieslings. I quickly became a convert. On that day I was convinced that our new winery needed this variety in its portfolio.

My parents and I decided to plant 14 rows of Clone 49 Riesling on the easternmost part of our farm adjacent to Four Mile Creek. It is a well-drained block, with good airflow and a mixed soil composition of sand and clay-loam.  I was well aware that the ultimate challenge with Riesling is keeping the rot at bay, and these parameters would surely help in our efforts. Clone 49 originated in Alsace and is widely considered to be better suited for Niagara-on-the-Lake and St.Davids Bench terroir.  It’s known for producing wines featuring floral and tropical fruit notes.

My father spent the spring of ‘07 doggedly preparing his field for the coming vines. It was an exciting time. We were off to a hot, dry start to the growing season with all varieties well ahead of schedule. One problem: where were the April showers? They never came. For that reason I'll always remember 2007 as a challenging drought year more than anything else. We actually had to purchase irrigation equipment! This was unimaginable on a farm that had been bathed with adequate rainfall for five generations. There had been dry years in the past but nothing like this.  Maddeningly, it would rain in Queenston and Virgil, but not in St. Davids. It was a bleak prognosis for our soon to be planted Riesling. Young vines need lots of water, and there simply wasn't enough available in the soil. As the time to plant drew near, however, this was the furthest thing from our minds.

Heartbreak. We lost Jean to cancer that summer. I'll never be able to understand such things. She will always be remembered with love and her zest for life is still resonant in her children. Her Riesling vines were planted in sorrow. When I work in Jean’s Block today, three years later, I'm struck by it's beauty.  Not only did it survive the drought of 2007, it thrived. It is without a doubt the prettiest spot on our farm. I'm reminded of Jean every time I look up to see a majestic hawk or encounter a curious cardinal sitting on the top wire. She loved nature and took every opportunity to get her hands dirty in the garden. I'll never take these earthly pleasures for granted again. My worries magically disappear in Jean’s Block.

The first crack at making wine from this vineyard came in 2009.  We harvested about 500kg of fruit on October 25th.  The cool ferment was carried out solely in stainless steel with W15 yeast.  The wine was left slightly off-dry (14 g/L), but has plenty of acidity to balance the sweetness.

Technical data: 11.6% alcohol, 14.0 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.01
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
50
Release Date
August 1, 2012
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: I shudder when I recall the cool and wet summer of 2009.  Conditions were great for the early varieties (see 2009 Pinot Noir), but it was a serious challenge to ripen Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon at the end of October with no foliage. We thinned down to ridiculous levels (a few bunches per vine) but the acid levels in the grapes remained very high in both varieties. I clearly remember making the sad decision not to harvest any of this fruit for our Five Rows wines. It was decided to sell the Shiraz to another winery and hang the Cab Sauv for Icewine. Before the Icewine nets went up, my ever optimistic Mother made the suggestion to go through our Cab Sauv blocks and select only the ripest of bunches in an effort to salvage a couple barrels worth of fruit. Every ounce of winemaker in me screamed no, but how could I say no to Wilma? The next day we set out to do our tedious selective picking.

So began the tale of our 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon or as I like to call it "The wine that almost wasn't". This elegant wine is now for sale in our barn, which is a minor miracle based on how many times it was written off. It was intensely aromatic from the get go, but took 30 months in some magical old barrels to achieve it’s current mouthfeel, structure and flavour profile. During those 30 months in my beloved (but soon to be retired) 2002 Gillet barrels, this wine was always an afterthought. In fact, I even looked into selling it as bulk a couple of times just to get it out of the barn. Fortunately there were no takers. Somewhere around the two year mark spent in barrel, things began to change and those two black sheep began to get my attention. I found myself tasting them at least once a week just to make sure I wasn't going nuts. I began to think that this 2009 Cab could actually one day don a Five Rows label. My first thought was to use it as a silent partner with my 2010 Cab, but the blending trials flopped. I proceeded to try a Shiraz/Cab Sauv blend, but that idea was also eventually nixed.

The resilient 2009 Five Rows Cabernet Sauvignon had managed to dodge every bullet I could muster. There was no other option than to let it rightfully stand on its own. I now consider this wine a secret bonus for those open-minded oenophiles who don’t practice vintage discrimination. There are people who will never try this wine because it was made in 2009. That just leaves more for the rest of us. This Cab is texturally gorgeous. It delivers classically ripe Lowrey Cab Sauv aromatics (blackberry, cherry, cassis) and wonderful balance that literally appeared out of nowhere. It will be fun to compare and contrast this wine with the big bombers on the horizon (2010 and 2012).

Cellaring: 2012-2015
Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
182 (7 barrels)
Release Date
May 1, 2012
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Sometimes the best of wines and the worst of seasons magically collide to create an unexpected moment of glory. The growing season of 2009 was one of those odd times. A late budbreak set the tone for what would be a cool, wet summer. We usually harvest Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris in early September, but nothing was close to being ripe in the late summer of 2009. Cue the blessing in disguise.

The moderate September days and cool fall nights helped move the Pinot ripening window to a time when Botrytis concerns were at a minimum. This was uncharted territory for Niagara Pinot growers. You must understand that there is one and only one certainty when growing Pinot Noir - they WILL rot at some point. When the inevitable did not happen in 2009, we were afforded the luxury of harvesting at the exact point when tannins, flavours, sugars and acids were aligned to my liking.

We chose to harvest Rows 1 and 2 on October 6, the latest Pinot pick we've had in 25 years. The remainder of the fruit was taken in on October 17. Average harvest parameters were 22.9°Brix, 8.4 g/L TA and pH 3.15. Fruit was destemmed and crushed into one tonne fermentation bins and allowed a cold soak at 10°C for five days. All bins were warmed to 14°C and inocualted with RC212 yeast at 250 ppm. Ferments averaged about 7 days, with a peak temperature of 29°C. Each bin was allowed to macerate post-fermentation until tannins showed signs of softening.

The wine was pressed and settled before clean-racking into seven French oak barrels (average age 2.5 years). Malolactic fermentation was carried out in oak. Barrels were racked and returned every 6 months. Total time in wood was 24 months before final blending in November 2011. 182 cases were bottled on April 2nd, 2012.

In my early tasting notes for this wine I have written, "something dark, alluring and mysterious about this Pinot. Reminiscent of a rainy day on our honeymoon spent tasting great Burgundies in the dank cellars of Beaune."

Aromas: cherry, violet, cassis, smoke, earth

Palate: dried cranberry, Bing cherry, soft tannin, haunting length

Cellaring: 2013-2019
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
70
Release Date
August 31, 2010
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Pinot Gris is such a labour intensive variety to grow, it better damn well turn out to be a good wine! It would not be worth the extra handwork and stressful pre-harvest nail biting to produce a mediocre, uninteresting wine. "Good" Pinot Gris is without a doubt the most sought-after grape variety by premium Niagara wine producers at the moment. It even has enough clout to be used as a bargaining tool by many growers to help them unload their lesser in demand, easier to grow varieties like Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc.

Getting good fruit is only part of the equation. Each winemaker seems to have their own method of coaxing out the best in their Gris. A few years back, a couple of wise Creekside winemakers introduced me to the benefits of fermenting a portion of Pinot Gris in older French oak barrels. I've experimented with different oak/stainless blends ever since. The barrel-fermented wine always seems to have weightier mouthfeel and more complex aromatics, so in 2009 I decided to go with a 2/3 barrel, 1/3 tank final blend. I've always had good luck with a yeast called R2, so I stuck with it and fermented at the coldest temperature the yeast could tolerate. This led to a slow and beautiful month-long ferment.

Technical Data: 13.0% alcohol, 8.5 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.46
Aromas: honey, apple, pear
Palate: vanilla, melon, spice, left slightly off-dry
Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
68
Release Date
August 31, 2010
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Roughly one tonne of fruit was harvested on a beautiful day in early October of 2009.  Half the fruit was sourced from our younger, more clay-based block of Sauvignon Blanc, while the other half came from the older vines located in predominantly clay-loam soil.  Each block contributes distinct characters to the final blend.

The younger "clay" block tends to be less vigorous, leading to increased fruit exposure and consequently lends the riper, more tropical notes to the blend.  The older “clay-loam” block vines are extremely vigorous and require more intense hand labour.  Generally they are slightly more shaded, leading to the fresh citrus aromatics and crisp flavours that are classic characteristics of cool-climate Sauvignon Blanc.

As I mentioned last season, the key to achieving the full complement of flavours and aromas is a long, cool ferment carried out in a combination of older French oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.  For this wine I opted to go with a two-thirds barrel (2003 Jacques Garnier) and one-third tank fermentation regimen. The tank-fermented portion was allowed to age in oak for a few months prior to final blending.  All fermentations were carried out at around 13 degrees Celsius with X5 yeast.

Technical: 13.1% alcohol, 5.8 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.2
Aromas: vanilla, pineapple, lemon, lime
Palate: melon, lime, balanced finish
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon Icewine
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
109
Release Date
July 1, 2011
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: At 8:03 AM on January 2nd, a new era began at Lowrey Vineyards. As the sun peeked over the escarpment we welcomed the dawn of our very own "Ice Age". After an evening of perfect freezing conditions (-12°C) it was decided to harvest five rows of specially selected Cabernet Sauvignon, our first foray into the world of Icewine. A beautiful morning unfolded before us, with a light snow gently filtering the weak rays of winter sun. It soon became clear that picking the fruit and braving the cold are the easy part, and actually quite enjoyable.

To understand the travails of pressing frozen grapes to yield minute amounts of juice, I want you to imagine trying to squeeze a tray of ice cubes in an effort to produce water. It takes equal amounts of pressure and patience I assure you!  Too much of the former and not enough of the latter can lead to problems… big problems. Less than a minute into the second press load I cranked up the pressure and was horrified to hear the sickening hiss of a slow leak in the press bladder.  Luckily we had a back-up bladder on hand, but the subsequent dismantling of the press load and bladder re-assembly really set us back. In the end, patience prevailed and the luscious Cab juice began to flow. It was thick, sweet and full of super-concentrated flavours of ripe strawberry and raspberry.

Technical Notes: This is a special icewine because it only endured a single press. Normally, multiple pressings take place with each successive squeeze getting lower concentrations of sweet juice and higher concentrations of water. Ultimately, these portions are all put together in a diluted final blend. Our "Single Press" netted only 280L of juice (39 degrees Brix) that was subsequently treated with pectinase enzyme then fermented in oak with EC118 at an inoculation rate of 350ppm. An older French oak barrel was used for the fermentation and aging regimen. The marathon ferment began January 29th and wasn’t stopped until June 21st at a specific gravity of 1.070.

The strength of this wine is its aromatic intensity and overall balance, with just the right amount of acid (TA 10.65g/L) playing off the sweet characters. Notes of Strawberry jam dominate the nose while subtle hints of white chocolate entice the palate.

2008 Vintages

Varietal
Shiraz
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
105
Release Date
April 6, 2011
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: The tale of Lowrey Shiraz began many years ago with a handshake. Our relationship as a grower for Creekside Estate Winery started in the late 90’s and continues to this day. Shiraz is a staple for Creekside, grown and vinified to perfection year after year. Given this success, we naively agreed to plant some of these vines soon after our partnership began. Little did we know just how sensitive and vigorous Shiraz vines could be!

This combination of winter sensitivity and summertime vigor is a challenging prospect for the grape grower. Early in their lives, these vines saw some pretty severe winters that almost led to their extinction in our vineyard. Massive re-plantings and constant re-trunking was needed to restore their numbers. Our hard work and patience was rewarded with some stellar vintages in the 2000s, ultimately inspiring me to take a crack at making my own Shiraz in 2008 (and yes, it will always be "Shiraz" not "Syrah" to us because we planted it for an Aussie!).

The fruit for this wine was harvested on October 23 following some pretty dodgy conditions in the summer of 2008. We initially thinned these vines down to two bunches per shoot, but had to remove additional clusters in the fall, as it became clear that ripening would be a challenge. We hand-harvested about one tonne of fruit from each of our Shiraz clones (7 & 100), then sorted before de-stemming into fermentation bins. A long cold soak was employed to help with colour extraction and tannic development. I chose to ferment the slightly riper Clone 7 fruit with RX60 yeast, but opted for F15 with the Clone 100 bin. Ferments were carried out at an average pace, with four daily punch-downs.

One new Taransaud barrel, two older French and one American oak barrel were used for the maturation process of this wine. Malolactic fermentation was carried out in barrel. After 24 months in oak, the final blend was assembled and allowed to mingle for about 8 more months.

Technical data: 13.0% alcohol, pH 3.30, TA 8.55
Aromas: blackberry, black currant, lavender, smoked game
Palate: dark chocolate, coffee bean, raspberry
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
94
Release Date
April 6, 2011
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Much will be written about the fabulous "Bordeaux" reds from Niagara in 2007 and 2010. Little to nothing will be written about the late-ripening reds from 2008 and 2009. For that reason, I am perhaps more proud of the Cabernet Sauvignon we grew and vinified in 2008, than any other wine we've produced.

Trying climatic circumstances called for extreme measures in the vineyard. As the harvest approached, it became apparent that early season thinning and leaf removal efforts were not going to cut it in 2008. We doubled our efforts and dropped more fruit than I am normally comfortable with. The winery I envisioned, however, could only be built on these tough decisions.

On October 24th we harvested only 68 picking boxes from two full rows of our Clone 169 Block. The fruit was very clean and showed surprising ripeness in both flavour and tannin for its 22.5 degrees Brix. It was a pleasure to pick and process. We went on to harvest 82 more picking boxes from our "Old Block" on November 2, after extracting as much life as we possibly could from the dwindling foliage.

The two blocks of fruit were processed into separate one tonne bins, and cold-soaked on the skins for five days. I decided to try a new yeast strain, Zymaflore FX10, with the slightly riper Clone 169 fruit. FX10 is known to produce wines defined by their elegance through a combination of structure, volume on the palate and intense colour. The Old Block fruit was fermented with F15, a new favourite yeast of mine after a successful experiment in 2007. Both ferments concluded uneventfully after six days with peak temperatures around 30C. The wine was left on the skins for a further 4 days of post-ferment maceration before pressing. Malolactic fermentation was carried out in 1 new and 3 older French oak barrels.

The wine was left in oak for 24 months before final blending and bottling on April 6th, 2011. Based on previous vintages, I felt that two full years spent in barrel and not going overboard with new oak were essential to properly aging this Cab Sauv. The two blocks produced remarkably different wines, ultimately leading to an interesting, complex blend. I’m always amazed at the differences between individual barrels of wine from the same vineyard. Is it due to terroir, clonal difference, oak influence, yeast strain, fermentation dynamics or all of the above? As the years go by I hope to peel back the layers and discover just what makes our Cab Sauv end up the way it does. The 2008 is an elegant wine, with an aromatic intensity that is unexpected by many who’ve tried it. It has a delicate, soft mid-palate that suggests early drinkability, unlike 2007. It is very reminiscent of the 2004 Five Rows Cabernet Sauvignon at this early stage.

Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
57
Release Date
September 14, 2009
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: In an effort to instill confidence, I tell my wines that it is never fair to compare themselves to their predecessors. For that reason we won't speak further of the effusive praise garnered by the 2007 Five Rows Pinot Gris. Some shoes are just too big to fill.

Harvested on September 19, 2008, this Pinot Gris began its life fermenting slowly in stainless steel and older French Oak. The oak component was added in an effort to further enhance mouthfeel and increase aromatic complexity. A nice cool ferment, dotted with periodic lees stirring, was complete by mid-October. The finished wine was blended, then fined with bentonite for protein stability.

Early tasting sessions showed strong notes of McIntosh apple and anise, while one panelist was sure he could smell "catbox" (depending, of course, on the type of litter you prefer). The French Oak and lees stirring helped create rounder texture and seemed to lend tropical nuances such as star fruit. The wine was left with just enough residual sugar to balance the acidity. Lemon-lime citrus flavours are predominant.

Technical data: 13.3% alcohol
Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
106
Release Date
October 6, 2008
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Now that we’ve been at this venture for a few years, it’s funny to look back at my old blog entries upon the release of a new wine. This entry from October 6, 2008 aptly tells the story of our 2008 Pinot Noir:

"Vintage'08 is upon us and to this point things have been…well…in a word...WET! Enough rain already. I mean just when I thought we were in the clear we got doused by the remnants of a hurricane, and for the record: I don't like Ike. Thankfully, the last couple of weeks have more than made up for the rain, with lots of sunshine and perfect ripening conditions for the early varietals.

As per usual, the "Heartbreak Grape", Pinot Noir, lived up to its moniker and provided lots of nervous moments and second guessing. In fact, one day in the vineyard while pondering a harvest timing decision, I found myself singing aloud to the Clash hit "Should I Stay or Should I Go". The Pinot were clean but slightly underripe, with threatening weather on the horizon ("If I go there will be trouble / And if I stay it will be double"). Ultimately, we decided not to pick and wait out what suddenly became Hurricane Ike. All the water led to some berries actually splitting and roused us into action. Led by a Pinot-loving mother hell-bent on saving her crop, the three of us spent two mind-numbing days cutting out individually split berries and underripe clusters. On September 16th and 17th we finally hand-picked our first two tonnes of fruit. In the end, what came in was ripe, clean (thus receiving the Wilma stamp of approval) and fermented into some really intriguing stuff. I experimented with a new yeast strain this season called W15, which after pressing today, is the early favourite to put into our 2 new Sirugue barrels."

Fast-forward to 2011 and that Pinot-loving mother can be proud of the wine she helped save. The 2008 is reminiscent of many past wines featuring Lowrey Pinot. A classic blend of bright cherry fruit, some floral notes and spice dominate the nose. Flavours of black raspberry and vanilla bean resolve into a pleasingly soft mouthfeel. Tannins are much more approachable than the 2007 Five Rows Pinot Noir at the same stage.

Technical data: 12.6% alcohol, 5.4 g/L residual sugar, pH 3.45
Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
64
Release Date
September 14, 2009
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Crafting aromatic white wines requires good fruit, patience and above all temperature control! In small wineries like ours we aren't afforded the luxury of temperature-controlled tanks to aid in maintaining the ideal fermentation conditions. Instead, my barrels of 2008 Sauv Blanc went on a merry-go-round tour of our barn for about a month until ferment was over. First outside to settle after pressing, then inside to warm for yeast inoculation, quickly into the cold room as the the ferment really starts to rock, back out of the cold room to finish-up as yeast start to become stressed, finally back into cold room at 4 Celsius to stop ferment at the desired sugar-acid balance.

I decided to use a yeast called X5 for this wine because it boasts to "help reveal varietal aromas rich in citrus, boxtree and tropical fruit while contributing light fresh floral notes". In the early stages it was apparent that X5 was the right choice. I was impressed with the lychee and pineapple aromatics that got stronger with each successive day. There was still some classic cool-climate Sauv Blanc citrus (lime zest) detectable as well, with hints of vanilla, fig and flint. The use of older French oak barrels was most evident on the palate, softening the edges of this zesty wine.

Technical data: 12.0% alcohol
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
94
Release Date
April 6th, 2011
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Much will be written about the fabulous "Bordeaux" reds from Niagara in 2007 and 2010. Little to nothing will be written about the late-ripening reds from 2008 and 2009. For that reason, I am perhaps more proud of the Cabernet Sauvignon we grew and vinified in 2008, than any other wine we’ve produced.

Trying climatic circumstances called for extreme measures in the vineyard. As the harvest approached, it became apparent that early season thinning and leaf removal efforts were not going to cut it in 2008. We doubled our efforts and dropped more fruit than I am normally comfortable with. The winery I envisioned, however, could only be built on these tough decisions.

On October 24th we harvested only 68 picking boxes from two full rows of our Clone 169 Block. The fruit was very clean and showed surprising ripeness in both flavour and tannin for its 22.5 degrees Brix. It was a pleasure to pick and process. We went on to harvest 82 more picking boxes from our "Old Block" on November 2, after extracting as much life as we possibly could from the dwindling foliage.

The two blocks of fruit were processed into separate one tonne bins, and cold-soaked on the skins for five days. I decided to try a new yeast strain, Zymaflore FX10, with the slightly riper Clone 169 fruit. FX10 is known to produce wines defined by their elegance through a combination of structure, volume on the palate and intense colour. The Old Block fruit was fermented with F15, a new favourite yeast of mine after a successful experiment in 2007. Both ferments concluded uneventfully after six days with peak temperatures around 30C. The wine was left on the skins for a further 4 days of post-ferment maceration before pressing.

Malolactic fermentation was carried out in 1 new and 3 older French oak barrels.

The wine was left in oak for 24 months before final blending and bottling on April 6th, 2011. Based on previous vintages, I felt that two full years spent in barrel and not going overboard with new oak were essential to properly aging this Cab Sauv.

The two blocks produced remarkably different wines, ultimately leading to an interesting, complex blend. I'm always amazed at the differences between individual barrels of wine from the same vineyard. Is it due to terroir, clonal difference, oak influence, yeast strain, fermentation dynamics or all of the above? As the years go by I hope to peel back the layers and discover just what makes our Cab Sauv end up the way it does.

The 2008 is an elegant wine, with an aromatic intensity that is unexpected by many who've tried it. It has a delicate, soft mid-palate that suggests early drinkability, unlike 2007. It is very reminiscent of the 2004 Five Rows Cabernet Sauvignon at this early stage.

2007 Vintages

Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
47
Release Date
September 25, 2008
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: Like other varietals in the Lowrey Vineyard, my parents planted Sauvignon Blanc Clone 297 in separate years and in varying soil profiles to help add complexity to Creekside Estate Winery's portfolio of wines. Clone 297 has proven to be anything but "farmer-friendly" with a weird combination of extremely low winter hardiness and eye-popping vine vigour. However, when the winter co-operates and the vines are tended aggressively - great wines can be achieved. 2007 was that Vintage. Older French Oak barrels (2003 & 2005 Berthomieu) were used to ferment this Sauvignon Blanc. Following treatment with a pectinase enzyme, one barrel was fermented wild and the other with BA11. The yeast mix seemed to pull different aromatics and flavours from each batch with the wild being more tropical, and the BA11 bringing more citrus notes. This Sauvignon Blanc was bottled untraditionally in stretch hock glass because.. .well... that's what we had!
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
38
Release Date
September 25, 2008
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: The warm, dry Vintage of 2007 taught me an important lesson in Pinot Gris ripening. In early September, my wife and I decided to take a pre-harvest "recharging" trip to New York to see Broken Social Scene play at McCarren Park Pool in Brooklyn. When we left, the Pinot Gris looked and tasted great with tiny berries, intense flavours and bountiful acidity. Upon returning three days later on Sept 10th, I nonchalantly grabbed a berry sample of the Gris, and to my astonishment it was showing a sugar level of 24.4 Degrees Brix and a Titratable Acidity (TA) of 6.5 g/L! The TA was taking a nosedive, and if we had decided to stay any longer in NYC I might have missed these perfect winemaking parameters! I hesitantly concede that there won't be any more early September vacations for me. The quick decision was made to pick our roughly one tonne of Pinot Gris later that afternoon. The ferment was established in a stainless steel tank with a yeast strain called R2 that is renowned for long, cold ferments and great varietal character development. Over the next four weeks, the wine slowly chugged away while I occasionally stirred the lees to add some mouthfeel and complexity. I decided to stop the ferment at a specific gravity of 0.998 to leave the wine with a touch of residual sugar.

Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
99
Release Date
February 18, 2010
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: The hot summer of 2007 brought ideal picking conditions to the St. David’s Bench. Roughly three tonnes of Pinot Noir were hand-picked on September 23 at just under 22 degrees brix, having TA of 6.55 and pH 3.31. Prior to picking, seed and skin tannins were both showing excellent maturity, and flavours were reminiscent of ripe seasons past (1998, 2001).

It was decided to source equal amounts of fruit from the three Lowrey Pinot blocks of differing ages (20 years, 15 years and 10 years). Each block was processed into open-top fermentors, with 15% of the fruit being left as whole-bunch. Bins were then sealed and underwent a lengthy cold soak to promote extraction.

Ferments were generally quick and warm, with peak temperatures in the low 30s. The wines were pressed into five French oak barrels (2 new, 3 old). Malolactic fermentation was carried out over the next few weeks in barrel. After about a year of aging, it was apparent that the 2007 reds packed a real punch in both flavour and tannin. To mellow the mouthfeel, it was decided after bench-top trials to fine the wines with small volumes of Pinot Gris lees from the 2008 vintage. Following a few days settling, the wines were racked off all lees.

24 months and countless blending trials later, the final cut was married together in a stainless steel tank for final settling and stabilization.

Aromas: cherry, strawberry, raspberry, earth, and faint tobacco leaf
Palate: flavours of luscious black cherry, great balance, and ample tannin for optimal aging potential
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
50
Release Date
February 18, 2010
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: My third crack at making a single-varietal Cabernet Sauvignon sourced from our own vineyard was by far the least stressful to date. We hand picked just under a tonne of ripe, clean fruit on October 25th, 2007. This harvest date really snuck up on us, as we hadn’t really anticipated the Cab being that ripe that early. For growers of multiple grape varietals, harvest time is a crazy sprint from the Pinot’s in late September to the last of the Cab Sauv in November. To pick ripe Cab in October is a luxury we are rarely afforded.

Normally a row of Cabernet Sauvignon in our vineyard would yield about 500kg of fruit, but the 4 rows we sourced for this wine were thinned down to one bunch per shoot resulting in a yield of 225kg/row. The fruit came in like sweet little black marbles, at a shade under 24 degrees brix. After processing and a brief cold soak, the fruit was warmed back up for fermentation. I decided to use Zymaflore F15 yeast for this wine to maximize glycerolic production. I figured this would be a big wine from the get-go, so any added elements to help round out the mouthfeel would eventually pay dividends. Fermentation was carried out at a nice moderate pace over 7 days, with peak temperature of 26.8 degrees Celsius. Malolactic fermentation was carried out in barrel to aid in oak integration.

After 24 months in one old and one new French oak barrel, the wine was blended to a stainless steel tank for final settling. My only regret at the end of this process is that I didn’t have the foresight to make more Cabernet Sauvignon form this superb vintage.

Aromas: blueberry pie, black cherry, mint, oak spice, red licorice
Palate: raspberry, blueberry, dark chocolate, powerful length
Cellaring: drinking well now, but should age gracefully for 10+ years

2004 Vintages

Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
45 Filtered & 2 Unfiltered
Release Date
Summer of 2007
Price
SOLD OUT
Tasting notes: A wet summer gave way to a beautiful fall and great ripening conditions for the late varietals. This Cabernet Sauvignon was harvested on November 4, 2004. The Lowrey Cab Sauv is grown in two blocks that differ in vine age, clone, and soil profile. The older block is a mix of clones 337, 339 and 15, while the younger block is planted solely with clone 169.  All vines are grafted onto low vigour rootstock 3309. Approximately 10 tonnes of fruit were picked that day, at an average of 21.5 degrees brix. Characteristically, the older fruit gives the resulting wines structure and balance while the clone 169 block provides the ripe fruit notes.

The resulting fruit was processed in small batches with three daily punchdowns for maximum colour extraction. The wine was left on the skins to macerate following fermentation to help with tannin structure. The cooperage was primarily French (75%) and mainly older barrels (only 20% new oak). Overall time spent in barrel was 30 months. The wine for my blend was selected following an intensive barrel selection process where I actually pulled different volumes from a variety of barrels to compose my final 2 barrel blend. The majority of the blend (300L) came from two 2002 Gillet barrels that showcased good overall components of oak integration, aromatics and palate structure. The other 150L came from a new 2004 Taransaud barrel that featured amazing ripeness and notes of candied cherry and raspberry. This wine was bottled in the summer of 2007 and allowed to age gracefully in bottle for a year and a half before this release.

Technical data: 13.2% alcohol, pH 3.67, TA 6.60g/L
Aromas: blackberry, black currant, lavender, smoked game
Palate: dark chocolate, coffee bean, raspberry

Current Vintages

Vintage
2014
Varietal
Pinot Noir
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
143
Release Date
May 6th, 2017
Price
$55
Tasting notes: Aromatics: cherry, floral (violet), red licorice (Nibs), truffle, earth, mushroom
Palate: typical "Lowrey terroir" profile of ripe cherry, pleasing acidity and evolved tannic structure
Vintage
2014
Varietal
Syrah
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
122
Release Date
May 6th, 2017
Price
$55
Tasting notes: Aromatics: wild black raspberry, pepper, cooked meat (bacon-wrapped water chestnuts), smoke
Palate: ripe red fruit (cherry, plum), savoury core, smooth tannins make it hard not to drink right now
Vintage
2014
Varietal
Cabernet Sauvignon
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
123
Release Date
May 6th, 2017
Price
$55
Tasting notes: Aromatics: wild black raspberry, cherry, bell pepper, violet
Palate: cherry flavour hard candy, currant, dark chocolate, structural versatility to enjoy now with meats and cheeses or to lay down for another few years
Vintage
2016
Varietal
Sauvignon Blanc
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
220
Release Date
May 6th, 2017
Price
$35
Tasting notes: Aromatics: pineapple, starfruit, grapefruit, peach drink, vanilla bean
Palate: Ripe tropical flavours balanced by crisp citrus notes, lingering finish
Vintage
2016
Varietal
Pinot Gris
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
110
Release Date
May 6th, 2017
Price
$35
Tasting notes: Aromatics: honeydew melon, apricot, whispers of single malt scotch
Palate: full-bodied, balanced, weighty texture, tastes like Wilma’s homemade butter tarts
Vintage
2016
Varietal
“Jean’s Block” Riesling
Vineyard
Lowrey Vineyards
Product of / Produit du Canada
Cases
119
Release Date
May 6th, 2017
Price
$35
Tasting notes: Aromatics: intense and alluring, floral notes with strong citrus undertones, apple
Palate: zippy acidity, but also a real depth of flavour, balanced finish, wonderful food pairing wine
To view our past vintages click here.