Ontario’s Stratus Vineyards Show Creativity in the Vineyard and WineryPR SAMPLE 

Stratus Vineyards winery and tasting room
Stratus Vineyards winery and tasting room

Ontario’s Stratus Vineyards is a 55-acre farm, set in the Niagara Lakeshore appellation of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and is planted to 16 grape varieties.  All the grapes are grown sustainably. Their winery is the first in the world to be fully Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – certified, which embodies their commitment to sustainability. The winery uses geothermal heating and cooling to keep their barrel cellar at a consistent temperature.

In June 2005 the winery opened to the public.  They hand-pick their grapes and use no irrigation or commercial fertilizer.  They are principally organic but also utilize some biodynamic practices. Their vineyard is certified sustainable, but due to neighbouring vineyards and their management practices, Stratus cannot become certified organic.

They typically have lower yields than other wineries in the region; between 2-3 tons/acre, depending on the growing season.  They settle for lower yields rather than overcompensate by spraying their vineyards.  Stainless steel fermenters are mainly used for white wines. But, they are using more clay amphora for fermenting now to see what they like or don’t like about them and how to proceed with these vessels.

Stratus makes varietal wines in more than one style, e.g. Chardonnay in stainless and in barrel, and then blends them as appropriate to produce the style of Chardonnay that they appreciate.  You could think of this process as similar to making the “house-style” for a Champagne house.  Most of their wines they bottle unfiltered so in some wines you may see cloudiness, but you also get more flavour from the wine, as it’s made.  For oak barrel aging they prefer to use 2nd, 4th, and 6th fill barrels, rather than new barrels which have stronger flavours.  I was told the older glass bottles that they purchased were not reusable for wine and those empty ones (which come from all wineries) are added to asphalt. Stratus now uses lighter glass bottles that are also refillable.

Stratus’ wines are never pumped, which they note can compromise delicate flavours. They use four-storey tank elevators to raise stainless steel tanks or oak fermenters high into the air. From this vantage, wine can flow through transparent pipes, gravity-fed, into French oak barrels or clay amphorae below.  They are only the fourth winery in the world to use elevators to raise their tanks.  Now that you know a bit about this interesting winery, let me tell you about the wines I tasted.

Oak fermenters and barrels, the tank elevator, and amphorae at Stratus Vineyards
Oak fermenters and barrels, the tank elevator from above, and amphorae at Stratus Vineyards (L to R)


My Wine Tasting Notes

Stratus Vineyards Black Label 2022 – A light lemon-green colour.  Medium toastiness and lemon aromas, plus a touch of green fruit.  Dry, with green fruit, grape stem and touches of stone fruit and minerality.  Lingering flavours.  4 stars

Stratus Vineyards Chardonnay 2020 with wine in glass
Stratus Vineyards Chardonnay 2020 with wine in glass

Stratus Vineyards Chardonnay Unfiltered 2020 – Wild ferment, barrel-aged for 320 days, unfiltered, and unfined. A medium-intensity clear lemon with a green tint colour.  A lighter tropical fruit nose with a hint of vanilla.  Dry, medium-plus body with a thick, round mouthfeel.  Medium acidity. Ripe tropical fruit flavours and a touch of vanilla.   Dry finish.  Medium length.  A quality wine. 4.5 stars

Stratus Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc 2021 – A light lemon colour with light aromas of green melon.  Dry, medium body, round, with a soft mouthfeel.  Lower acidity.  Fresh melon flavour. 4 stars

Stratus Vineyards White 2021 – A blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Sémillon. Medium-minus intensity lemon colour.  Light aromas of citrus and nettles.  Medium body with a round mouthfeel.  Medium acidity. Light stone fruit, sweet spices, melon, pineapple, and grape stem flavours.  Medium-minus length.  4 stars4.5 stars

Stratus Vineyards White 2006 – The same grape varieties as the 2021 vintage plus Gewurztraminer and Riesling. The blend changes each year for this wine.  This one has a deep bright lemon colour.  A rich aromatic nose with roses and lychees.  Medium-plus body with a smooth, thicker mouthfeel.  Lower acidity.  Thick silky smooth texture.  Roses and lychee along with a touch of pepperiness. 4.5 stars

Stratus Vineyards Cabernet Franc Rosé 2022 – A pale rose petal colour.  Sweet aromas of red grapefruits.  Off-dry, soft with medium-plus acidity.  Light red fruit and red grapefruit flavours.  A touch of tannins on the finish.  A nice patio wine. 4 stars

Stratus Vineyards “Field Blend” Ancestral Rosé Trials 2022 – “Trials” are their wines that are currently on trial to see how well they are received by the public.  A trial wine may or may not make it into their Black Label lineup in the future.  This sparkling wine has a medium clear orange colour.  Quite aromatic of grapefruit plus some floral.  Dry, medium-plus body, round, but with higher acidity leaving an acidic prickle on your tongue.  Citrus, grape stem, a touch of red fruit, plus some pepperiness on the palate. Lingering flavours.  A unique wine. 4.5 stars

Stratus Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2020 with wine in glass
Stratus Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2020 with wine in glass

Stratus Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2020 – Aged 549 days in French oak barrels; 30% new oak and 70% neutral oak barrels. A medium-plus translucent to the core garnet colour.  Lighter aromas of juicy red berries and a touch of capsicum.  Dryish, fuller body, with a round mouthfeel. Juicy red berries and a touch of capsicum and red cherries on the palate. Medium-plus length finishing with tart red fruit and medium-plus intensity tannins.  A quality wine. 2020 was an exceptional year for grape growing and wines made in the Niagara region. 4.5 stars5 stars

Stratus Vineyards Red 2019 – A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petit Verdot, Tannat, Syrah and Malbec. A medium translucent to the core garnet colour.  Medium-plus intensity aromas of red fruit, red cherries, and touches of oak, sweet spices and raspberries.  Dry, medium-plus body with medium acidity and tannins.  Red cherries, floral, a little candied red cherries and oak flavours.  Medium length with fresh tart red fruit flavours and medium tannins. 4 stars4.5 stars

Stratus Vineyards White Label Red 2020 – This wine was made to celebrate their 20 years of winemaking.  They use the heart of the wine barrels for this wine and assert this wine can age up to 30 years.  I do not know the blend of grapes for this wine, but likely similar to their Red 2019.  This wine is an opaque mix of ruby and garnet colours from rim to core.  Medium-intensity aromas of vanilla, ripe cherries and red fruit plus a touch of cedar.  Medium-minus body, soft and lightly round mouthfeel.  Medium acidity and medium-plus fine-grained tannins.  Ripe red fruit and some pepperiness on the palate.  Medium-plus length finishing with sweet red fruit, some candied cherries and tart fruit plus a hint of floral. A good balance of fruit, acidity and tannins.  4.5 stars

Stratus Vineyards Semillon Botrytis Affected 2020 with wine in glass
Stratus Vineyards Sémillon Botrytis Affected 2020 with wine in glass

Stratus Vineyards Sémillon Botrytis Affected 2020 – This wine spent 120 days in neutral French oak barrels.  It has a medium-minus intensity lemon colour with a green tinge.  Lighter aromas of stone fruit, marmalade and honey.  Lightly sweet with a thicker mouthfeel.  Starts waxy and transitions to honey on the finish.  Tropical fruit and light marmalade flavours.  Thicker texture to start, lightening up mid-palate.  A medium level of acidity balances out the sugar.  4.5 stars

Stratus Vineyards Riesling Icewine 2022 – A bright lemon colour.  Quite aromatic showing stone fruit, apricot, lemon and nose aromas.  Medium-body, light mouthfeel.  Medium sweetness.  Ripe apricots and honey on the palate.  Medium acidity and length.  Dried apricot flavour on the finish. 4.5 stars

Where Can I Buy These Wines?

These wines can be purchased online through the Stratus Vineyards’ website.  Ontario’s LCBO also carries a wide range of Stratus’ wines.

Author: mywinepal
Drink Good Wine. That is my motto and I really want to help you drink good wine. What is good wine? That can be a different thing for each people. Food also loves wine so I also cover food and wine pairings, restaurant reviews, and world travel. Enjoy life with me. MyWinePal was started by Karl Kliparchuk, WSET. I spent many years with the South World Wine Society as the President and then cellar master. I love to travel around the world, visiting wine regions and sharing my passion for food & wine with you. Come live vicariously through me, and enjoy all my recommended wines.