Special Features

Chapel Hill Winery, Coriole Vineyards and Wits End

by Vic Harradine

Chapel Hill Winery

The Chapel Hill Winery tasting room is located in just that, a (former) chapel on a hill—once known as the Seaview Methodist chapel and schoolhouse. A stunning feature in this old ironstone building is that which Chapel Hill’s logo is based, a stained-glass window constructed in Scotland in the 1700s. The chapel was officially opened in 1865 and remained until a ceremony officially closed it in 1965, 100 years later. Boarded up and deteriorating, it and surrounding land were purchased from the Uniting church by Adelaide professor, Tom Nelson. Tom planted vines in 1972 and began the monumental task of meticulously restoring the building, creating a winery, a tasting room and offices. The burgeoning winery—the present 2017 vintage is its 43rd consecutive—is still family owned, now by the Swiss-based Schmidheiny family, having purchased it in 2000.

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Henschke, Glaetzer Wines and Heartland Wines

by Vic Harradine

Henschke winery

The stone church built in 1860 sits opposite the Hill of Grace vineyard also planted at that time—although it’s not on a hill, the land is somewhat flat. The stone cellar building at the present Henschke winery was also built in the 1860s. Present owner/winemaker and 5th generation, Stephen Henschke’s forefathers were there at that time as well, planting vines and making wine on site—Johann Christian Henschke planted a small vineyard at Keyneton in 1862. Stephen and viticulturist wife, Prue, continue the incredible success story of this family-owned, family-run, world-renowned winery. They are known not only for their fabulous wine, but for their focus on sustainability and innovative techniques, especially in the vineyard—they have a unique nursery program preserving the genetic heritage of their oldest vines. Their philosophy is, ‘Exceptional wines from outstanding vineyards’. They are proud to be one of the select—only 12—family-owned wineries to form Australia’s First Families of Wine representing over 1200 years of winemaking experience and excellence.

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Parker Coonawarra Estate, Hesketh Wine, Vickery Wines and Wakefield Wines

by Vic Harradine

Parker Coonawarra Estate

Parker Coonawarra Estate wines owe their heritage to John and Faye Parker who in 1985, after considerable research, purchased land from the Abbey family, planting pre-phylloxera, Bordeaux-clone Cabernet Sauvignon vines in the now famous, limestone-based, terra rossa soil of the Coonawarra GI. They experienced immediate success. Their 1988 ‘First Growth’ won the ‘Penfold Highland Trophy’ and was judged the 6th best Bordeaux-style in the 1991 International Wine challenge in London. Parker continues to gain accolades as the ‘First Growth’ is now included in the prestigious, ‘Langton’s Classification of Australian Fine Wines’.

Parker Coonawarra Estate

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John Duval Wines and Yalumba Wines

by Vic Harradine

John Duval Wines, sourced in Barossa Valley and Eden Valley, South Australia

The iconic John Duval was Penfolds’ Chief Winemaker 1986 – 2002 responsible for making the 1990 Grange capturing the Wine Spectator, ‘Wine of the Year’ award. Penfolds’ premium red wines—Bin 407, Bin 138 and RWT—were developed on his watch as was the ‘White Grange’ project that eventually developed the über-premium Yattarna Chardonnay and led to the Reserve Bin A Chardonnay. In 1989 John was named, ‘International Winemaker of the Year’ and later in 1991 and 2000 named, ‘International Red Winemaker of the Year’. (information courtesy Penfolds’ website)

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Jim Barry Wines and Pikes Wines, Clare Valley, South Australia

by Vic Harradine

The Clare Valley is a cooler-climate Geographical Indication (GI) wine region in the state of South Australia. It’s marked by a Mediterranean-like climate with afternoon sea breezes, an exceptional diurnal temperature variation and lengthy hang time for fruit. Some of the oldest Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz vines in the world survive here along with numerous 4TH, 5TH and even 6th generation family-owned growers and wineries. The primary white grape planting is Riesling with Clare considered its Australia home along with Chardonnay and others. Cabernet Sauvignon and Shiraz are the two most popular red plantings along with others including some very old Grenache vines.

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Jip Jip Rocks winery in Padthaway, South Australia

by Vic Harradine

We begin our journey through Australia’s fine wine regions along the famous Limestone Coast, a place where a profusion of fruit is sourced for some of Australia’s finest wines. Join us in visiting and tasting with a family-owned winery proud to display their origins. Jip Jip Rocks may be familiar to those who shop the LCBO as we stop in Padthaway, a geographical region of South Australia (SA), visiting the Bryson family at their family-owned vineyard where fruit is sourced for their ‘Jip Jip Rocks’, ‘Morambro Creek’ and ‘The Bryson’ wine brands. The present Bryson brothers and their family members are 5th generation South Australia agriculturists.

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Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery

by Susan Desjardin

Born into the Torres wine family, Marimar Torres has been immersed in the industry all her life. With degrees in business, education in oenology and a facility for languages, she was the ideal ambassador for Torres wines in her early career. After establishing her home in California, she focused her energies on increasing awareness of Spanish wines in North America. Ten years later, the sale of Torres wines in the U.S. had grown ten-fold, and Marimar was ready for the new challenge of establishing Marimar Estate Vineyards & Winery.

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Rodney Strong – Dedicated, Passionate Craftsmanship

by Susan Desjardins

Located just south of the quaint Sonoma County town of Healdsburg, the Rodney Strong Vineyards tasting room is surrounded by some of the founder’s extensive original vineyards. Not only can you take a self-guided tour, or taste flights of wines on the terrace, Chef Tara Watchee has developed a finely balanced wine and food pairing experience where both components shine. As an example, the lively red fruit flavours of the 2015 Rosé of Pinot Noir were complemented by a salad of watermelon, grilled corn, basil, Black Pig bacon, verjus and estate olive oil.

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Gallo Winery Estates

by Susan Desjardins

We planned visits at two Gallo estates, and then made a quick stop at Louis M. Martini given its long history in the Napa Valley. Although the Gallo family has purchased a number of wineries and vineyards over the years, one of the themes that came through during our visits is their focus on retaining the unique character of the wines produced at each of the estates, while investing in the infrastructure and equipment that will honour and maintain the legacy of the original founders. E.&J. Gallo Winery remains a family business with goals of being a leader in the U.S. wine industry and a leading supplier of California wine internationally.

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Mission Hill Tasting at Social Restaurant and Bar, June 2016

by Susan Desjardins

Darryl Brooker has recently assumed the mantle of chief winemaker from the legendary John Simes, who is taking on a role that will allow him to focus on the Von Mandyl Family vineyards. Darryl’s winemaking career began in Australia with Mountadam Vineyards followed by a stint with Villa Maria in New Zealand. He moved to Canada in 2003 crafting award-winning wines with several Niagara wineries including Flat Rock Cellars, Hillebrand and Thirty Bench. He moved to the Okanagan in 2010 to take on the role of winemaker at Cedar Creek Estate Winery which was recently purchased by the Von Mandyl Family Estates. Darryl is clearly enthusiastic about his new role, and pleased that he has had the opportunity to continue to draw on John Simes’ expertise and knowledge regarding earlier vintages and the extensive Okanagan Valley vineyards.

Read more: Mission Hill Tasting at Social Restaurant and Bar, June 2016