If you know us, you may also know our love for a good, bold glass of red wine. Our love affair with wine has evolved in the past couple of years and it’s also allowed us to discover that Canada makes some pretty darn good wine. It’s tough because our Ontario winters can be unpredictable, but growers have learned and perfected this craft by experimenting and by using advancements in technology (such as wind machines to minimize cold), so we can enjoy world-class wine made right here at home.
For our December Local Feature, and just in time for the holidays, we’re thrilled and bursting with excitement to be featuring one of our favourite Canadian wineries Southbrook Vineyards, the evolution of founders Marilyn and Bill Redelmeier’s love story with wine, the land, and all things “local”.
Today, we’re sitting down with the Paul DeCampo, Director of Marketing & Sales at Southbrook Vineyards to let us in on the secrets of great winemaking and give us some pointers on pairing your reds, your whites and one of the most unique orange wines out there (yes! orange wine does exist).
“Better grapes, better wines, better world”
1) Wine and chocolate are our 2 BFFs, so we are beyond excited to be featuring you just in time for the holiday season. Could you tell us a little bit about how you got started and where your inspiration came from?
For Southbrook, our inspiration is the land that we care for. Our roots go back three generations in Ontario farming, and our heart is a 150-acre site in Niagara-on-the-Lake. As part of our mixed farm, we work with nature to manage 60 acres of grapes and gently process those grapes into wines that can be enjoyed over many years. We also collaborate with other organic farmers in Niagara, by paying a premium for their harvest and supporting their responsible stewardship. Our other source of inspiration is traditional and innovative wineries both local and global, which inspire us to make the most distinctive and delicious wines that we can.
2) You are Canada’s first Biodynamic winery. What does that mean and how is it different from organic?
As in organic agriculture, biodynamic farmers cultivate healthy plants and animals starting with living soils, and without the use of synthetic pesticides. There are three additional elements to biodynamics.
One, we use a recommended range of herbal and compost teas and also add specific preparations to our compost to encourage healthy microbiology and balanced soil nutrition.
Two, we time our work in the vineyard and winery to align with the lunar cycles and the powerful influences that the moon has on the natural world.
Three, we treat the farm as a self-sustaining organism and limit the inputs required from off the farm. The key strategy is to raise plants and animals in an integrated, symbiotic system. Our solar-powered pastures feed the sheep, and their manure feeds the rest of the plants on the farm.
3) Our name says it all, at The Naughty Nutritionists we don’t like to place restrictions on eating, we rather focus on finding the healthiest version of the foods we love and creating balance in our lifestyles. And, that is why we enjoy desserts, chocolate, and an occasional wine glass or two 😉 with pleasure. At Southbrook, what would you say your motto is?
Pleasure is our motivation too, and we take the motto “Responsible Pleasure” from Slow Food. For us, the deepest pleasures combine sensual satisfaction, with the knowledge that growing the food and drink we enjoy has helped make the world a better place. We believe in regenerative agriculture, which results in a healthier environment and more resilient communities. So, wine that is good to drink, and good to think.
4) We’ve never been experts with food pairing as we can have our glass of red with any meal, can you give us some tips on what are some of the best food/wine combos? How does wine help bring out the flavours in food?
We have been fortunate as members of our industry to experience the precise food and wine matches that chefs and sommeliers can create together, and how those matches can elevate all the parts of the meal. However, we follow a simple rule: Share the wine you like, and the food you like, with your favourite people, and everything will be delightful.
That said, some basic recommendations do apply. Matching food and wine of similar intensity is a good idea. So, lighter foods with lighter wines, and vice versa. The food should be no sweeter than the wine. For example, if you are serving a salad with a significant amount of fruit, it would be best to choose a white wine with some sweetness, like many Rieslings. The acidity in wine is important, as it refreshes your palate, and prepares it for the next taste of food. We find lower alcohol wines pair best with food, too. Fortunately, the moderate climate of Niagara typically gives us wines with good acidity and lower alcohol.
Read on for some delicious holiday food & wine pairings below…
5) You leave no food wasted, we see that you have a product called Bioflavia made from grape skins. Can you tell us a little bit more about it and its health benefits?
Just as our grandmas told us, the most nutritious part of the fruit is the skin. In grapes, many powerful antioxidants are concentrated in the skins. Bioflavia is made from red wine skins after fermentation. We dry the skins and mill them finely so that the phytonutrients like resveratrol are bioavailable. Bioflavia can be added to a morning smoothie, yogurt or oatmeal, and can also be added to bread or pasta dough.
6) What is next for Southbrook? Are you working on releasing any new wines?
Because each vintage is unique, we release “new” wines every year. Recent releases include the 2016 Triomphe Organic Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot. These wines are made to be enjoyed over the medium term, so readers can purchase some to drink now, and cellar some for 3- 5 years.
The Triomphe Organic Chardonnay is a great selection for holiday meals, as it balances richness and refreshment. It shines with bloomy rind [ie. Brie-style] cheeses, richer fish dishes like grilled wild salmon, and vegetarian dishes based on almond or cashew “cream” like this Sundried Tomato Cashew Cream Pasta.
The Triomphe Organic Cabernet Franc and Merlot are both hearty reds with bright supporting acidity, so pair well with pizzas and pastas with tomato-based sauces, vegetarian black-bean dishes, and classically with beef and lamb.
In terms of “everything old is new again”, Southbrook is a leader in offering Skin Fermented White, or Orange wine in Ontario. This ancient style has been made for millennia in Georgia and has been revived as part of the natural wine movement. While most white wine is made by fermenting only the juice, our Orange wine is made by naturally fermenting the skin, stems, and juice of biodynamic grapes together for an extended period of a month. It is then pressed and bottled without filtration or preservatives, making it a radically natural beverage. We love pairing this unique wine with complex salads, especially those with pickled vegetables, sprouts, and preserved lemon. With its substantial tannin, this wine pairs well with rich cheeses like taleggio, old cheddar, and triple cream brie. Smoked fish is another option.
New in 2016 was our Organic Wild Ferment Cider. This collaboration with Avalon Orchards has created a dry, rustic, cloudy cider, also bottled with no preservatives.
While refreshing on its own, our cider is great with more casual pub fare like fish and chips and burgers, vegetarian or not. It has substance, so can also be enjoyed with roasted pastured pork with apples or roast chicken.
*Pair your wine perfectly with this delicious and simple holiday cookbook that includes recipes that don’t skimp out on stuffing, roasts, chocolate & cocktails and yet are friendly on your belly and your waistline.
7) We totally want to cozy up with a glass now, can you let us know where can our readers find your wine?
We love the idea of your readers sharing Southbrook wines with friends and family.
The best way to get our wines is via Southbrook.com, where you can order for delivery to your door. Shipping is free on deliveries of $70 or more, and a flat $14.95 on other orders. Via our web site, our whole portfolio is available.
While a variety of our wines are occasionally available through Vintages, our Connect Organic White is always in the LCBO. It is on the shelves of 300 plus stores and is a delightful way to support organic farmers in Ontario.