Winemakers, just like butchers, bakers, and astrophysicists, have to go to school, in order to learn how things work, why they work that way, and best practices. In Canada there are colleges that offer wine making training; one such place is Niagara College, located by Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario. I was fortunate to visit the college to review one of their programs, and was also given an opportunity to visit their Teaching Winery.
At the Teaching Winery, they have the winery, but also a tasting room, where visitors can sample and buy wines made by the students, as well as having a vineyard right outside the door, planted with various red and white vitis vinifera. They are part of the VQA program, which may help once you graduate, and want to work at a winery that is also part of the program.
If you have an interest in being a wine maker for a career, you may want to visit their website on the programs they offer. They also have a working brewery, and you can learn to be a brew master too. It is a very pretty campus, and if you have a chance to go out to the Niagara peninsula this summer, I suggest stopping by, and trying their wine and beer, and if you are hungry, visit their restaurant that is beside the winery, and is quite pretty with lots of glass walls giving you an unobstructed view of the campus.
In the Tasting Room, I was able to sample a few of their wines, and they were of very good quality. They do have different tiers of wine, as other commercial wineries do, with Reserve level, etc. I brought home two bottles of Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Chardonnay and Pinot Noir for a more formal tasting and note taking. The Dean’s List wines are made with the consultation by Ontario-based wine critic Tony Aspler. My notes on the two wines are below.
My Wine Tasting Notes
Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Chardonnay 2011 (ON $25.15) – Bright medium lemon in colour. It has youthful, medium intensity aromas of tropical fruit, in particular ripe pineapple, vanilla and toasted oak, with lemon in behind. It is dry, medium plus body and flavour intensity, and is quite round in the mouth. You get tropical fruit and toast up front, followed by mouth-watering acidity, apples and toast, and finishing with butterscotch and pepperiness. The tropical fruit flavour is persistent from beginning to end. With decanting, you get more apple and pear flavour from this wine. I think decanting this wine helps show off its nuances.
Rating: A big, rich, round white wine, good quality that shows the quality you can get from Canada and students in the wine making program.
Niagara College Teaching Winery Dean’s List Pinot Noir 2010 (ON $20.15) – Translucent garnet with hints of bricking. It has a very pretty nose with aromas of tea leaves, baby powder, nutmeg, and hints of smokiness, flowers and sweet cherries. On the palate, it is dry, light bodied, with a streak of minerality. Flavours of tea leaves, red fruit, a hint of smoky raspberries and some black currant leaf. The wine finishes with some sweet spices, red fruit and nutmeg, along with mouth-watering acidity. With decanting the tannins become stronger on the finish. The wine is very elegant and delicate.
Rating: – A top-notch Pinot Noir, that is scented very pretty, with tea leaves on the nose and palate, together with red fruits and sweet spice.