This Ontario vineyard makes accessible, unpretentious bottles

One small however mighty vineyard in Niagara makes sensible, reasonably priced bottles constructed for simple pleasure. Certain, you might pour these wines when firm comes round or to punctuate a special day. However they actually shine in these informal moments — akin to Thursday night time while you’re chopping onions or Sunday afternoon after shovelling snow — while you simply desire a scrumptious drop that received’t break the financial institution.

“We attempt to make wines which are approachable and accessible,” stated Louise Engle who owns and operates Featherstone Property Vineyard in Niagara together with her companion David Johnson. “They’re to not lie down. They’re simply so as to add to the pleasure of the week. Get them off a pedestal and get them in your glass. I feel that’s what we’re about.”

The couple ran a specialty meals store known as the Guelph Poultry Market collectively from 1986, once they established it, till 2002 once they bought the enterprise to concentrate on wine. They purchased the winery that might turn into Featherstone Property Vineyard in 1999, situated in Vineland and instantly started making wine. The title Featherstone is a nod to their former enterprise, and it’s a reference to the limestone-rich soil of the area.

Sheep in the vineyard at Featherstone Estate Winery.

The 2020 Featherstone Black Sheep Riesling, VQA Niagara Peninsula (Vineyard, Vintages Necessities $18.95) nails that accessible model that they try for and appeals to wine newbies and connoisseurs. It’s one thing you might actually pour for anybody within the room. From its attractive perfume of sugared lime to the explosive flavours of lime sorbet with traces of salt, stone and lime zest, this wine delivers rapid and straightforward pleasure. Rating: 93

“Our Black Sheep Riesling is a ton of labor,” stated Engle. “It’s hand harvested with a complete berry press with a extremely mild squeeze — so yields are fairly low, and we use one of the best juice for it.”

Black Sheep Riesling is known as after the sheep who assist make the wine. Engle and Johnson let sheep graze within the winery to nibble away on the grapevine leaves. This pruning of the vines exposes the fruit to extra daylight for higher ripening and permits morning dew on the grapes to dry extra rapidly — stopping rot. And sheep don’t like grapes, so the fruit is left intact.

Time spent in New Zealand impressed Johnson to make use of this system with the sheep, the place it’s fairly frequent, he stated.

Louise Engle with her hawk.

In the meantime, Engle grew to become a licensed falconer to manage injury from starlings and different birds that eat the fruit. She flies a chook of prey known as a Harris’s hawk within the winery as a deterrent.

Each Johnson and Engle grew up on farms and it reveals. They’ve a pure affinity to the land and are avid practitioners of eco-friendly farming. However they do extra than simply follow earth-friendly farming. They’re additionally marvellous vineyard hosts — soft-spoken, clever and articulate folks with a palpable ardour of wine and hospitality.

Now on shelf on the LCBO is the 2020 Featherstone 4 Feathers, VQA Niagara Peninsula (Vineyard, Vintages $14.95). The title, 4 feathers, is a nod to the 4 varieties on this vibrant mix — Riesling, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Gewürztraminer. Every sip swirls with fragrant depth earlier than beaming in with a zippy assault of recent fruit. Aromas and flavours think of lime cordial, lemon curd and kiwi with a contact of rose petal someplace. Juicy and unpretentious, this wine tastes clear, well-made and pure, and it affords gorgeously good worth for about $15 a pop. Rating: 94

The 2019 Featherstone Cabernet Franc, VQA Niagara Peninsula (Vineyard, Vintages Necessities $21.95) is a traditional expression of what’s one in all Ontario’s finest pink grape varieties. From its jammy perfume of raspberries and ripe muddled forest fruit to its cool, crisp entry of crunchy pink berries, it affords open-handed affability. Every sip tapers to a textured end with mild undertones of pink peppercorn and salt. A contact of cedar and vanilla emerge on the end too and linger. Rating: 89

Whereas the aforementioned wines are broadly accessible on the LCBO, the winery-only Pinot Grigio can be value your consideration and may be ordered immediately from Featherstone.

Every glassful of the 2020 Featherstone Pinot Grigio, VQA Niagara Peninsula (Vineyard $18.15) shines the palest shade of coral — Pinot Grigio grapes may be pinkish-gray in color, imparting color to the wine. The scent suggests stone fruit — apricot and white peach — earlier than the brisk assault expands with citrusy nuances. This lip-smacking wine is a straightforward cocktail-style sipper however works equally effectively on the desk. Rating: 89

Tastings on the vineyard resume March 1 tentatively. Within the meantime, get acquainted with Featherstone wines by selecting up a bottle on the LCBO or ordering it on-line at

Carolyn Evans Hammond is a Toronto-based wine author and a contract contributing columnist for the Star. Wineries often sponsor segments on her YouTube collection but they don’t have any position within the collection of the wines she chooses to assessment or her opinions of these wines. Attain her by way of e-mail:


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