Brian Preston, The Travelling Sommelier
Ominous clouds filled the skies on Saturday, July 8 but ever the optimist I set off from Portland, Ont. with the top down for an hour’s road trip up to the Grand Opening of KIN Vineyards near Carp, Ont.
There I was met by a couple of smiling young ladies serving white wines. First I tried the 2015 Chardonnay Lincoln Lakeshore VQA, a dry version coming in at 13.5 per cent alcohol by volume (abv) that had a pale golden colour with a nose of fresh apple and a touch of melon. While light, it had some body due to the aging sur lie and battonage process used in the making.
Grapes for this wine are sourced from the Niagara Peninsula but the wine is made by KIN winemaker, Brian Hamilton. It is not uncommon for a new vineyard to source grapes from elsewhere when the local vines are young and not yet producing the volume needed for full commercial operation.
Next I tried the 2016 Understory Vidal Blanc (VQA), which is a blend of KIN Vineyards’ own Kinburn Block and Niagara grapes. This wine is off-dry, fermented and aged for three months in stainless steel tanks coming in at 10.2 per cent abv.
Once inside their new building, I also tried the 2016 Pinot Noir Rose (VQA) made from their Kinburn Block vineyard grapes, as was the 2016 Light Horse Frontenac Blanc (VQA). The 2015 Pinot Noir (VQA) is made from Beamsville Bench grapes. The wines range from $16.95 to $34.95 with most being in the $20 range.
Co-owner of KIN Vineyards, Chris van Barr, transformed 16 acres of his 50 acre property into a vineyard. The six-acre Kinburn Block includes the hardy French hybrid varieties Marechal Foch, Frontenac, and Vidal Blanc, and 10 acres of the Carp vineyard, where the winery is located, harvested for the first time their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines in 2016. The property strategically sits on the Carp Ridge offering protection to the vineyard from the harsh winter winds and the killing spring frosts like the Niagara Escarpment does for Niagara wineries. The site is south facing affording the most sunny days possible for grape growing and ripening. The vineyard slopes south and west immediately off the Carp Ridge, and includes different soil types, the upper slope characterized by loamy sandy soil good for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Hamilton was previously a winemaker at Malivoire, Southbrook Vineyard and Tawse Winery, all in Niagara Peninsula, and he brings their same focus on organic and biodynamic winemaking practices to KIN Vineyards. Hamilton also worked at wineries in California and New Zealand where he further developed experience and expertise in the creation of cool-climate wines.
The wines were delightful and while everyone’s palate is different, I particularly was impressed with the Chardonnay and the Dark Horse Red made from Frontenac Noir.
This makes for a great day trip from Ottawa, Arnprior, Smiths Falls and Portland and this part of the Rideau Canal system. Take a drive out there to sample the variety of white and red wines. They even have a dry cider, Cider House Fools, 500ml, $5.95 at 8.5 per cent abv made from MacIntosh, Honey Crisp and Winesap apple varieties from nearby Harvest Moon Orchard.
This article was first published in the August issue of Hometown News. For more articles from our August issue, pick up a print copy at a local retailer or read our digital version.