Winery of the Month: Quai du Vin

Located in the serene farmlands of St. Thomas, Quai du Vin is a beautiful winery that is a sight to behold. At its entrance, a beautiful waterfall of red water –like it is wine– flows from the winery. The retail shop has a classic interior design with a distinct European feel. A giant window looks out to the shaded patio, vineyards, stage, and outdoor seating area.

Jamie, the winemaker, believes wine should play a supporting role in life. His philosophy remains true as visitors come to try his wine in groups, and weekends are never without weddings or musical festivals. As people try his wines and smiles, he knows he has done his job right.

Talking to Roberto at the bar is a pleasure, his knowledge and soothing voice making the tasting experience a wonderful one. The Late Harvest Riesling is a beautiful wine, sweet with honey aromas. Their Vidal is their most popular white wine, with a tropical aroma and a delicate balance between sweetness and acidity. Out of curiosity, we try the the Maple Wine, a locally-sourced maple syrup that is slowly fermented. The end result is a dessert wine with maple syrup’s natural golden colour and sweet taste is preserved without any hint of alcohol in its taste.

Now it’s time to take a tour of the vineyards and relax on the Wine Press Terrace, the sunlight peaking through the vines and leaves absolutely divine. Mona is the friendly estate cat, keeping you company while you relax under the shade. After a short petting session, you head out to explore the vineyards, taking in the beautiful scenery around before heading back to the retail shop.

Picking up a bottle of Vidal on our way out, Quai du Vin is definitely a gem in the countryside. Until next time!

Wine-Inspired Craft Beer in the County

North America’s beer industry began when immigrants brought their own traditional style of brewing, but after a long period of Prohibition, Depression, and World Wars, many breweries shut down or consolidated. At the same time, North Americans grew to prefer light lagers, further decreasing the variety of beers available. By the late 50s-60s, homebrewing enthusiasts began brewing beer to bring back more flavours and traditions to American beer, as it was the only other way to experience other beer styles. To separate themselves from the view of North American beer as a mass-produced commodity with little culture, character, and tradition, craft brewers sought to distinguish themselves.

So, what makes craft beer so distinct? The answer lies within innovation, creativity, and experimentation. Just like winemaking, craft brewers interpret historic styles with unique twists using traditional and untraditional ingredients, and develop new styles with no precedent. The craft brewery members in the Ontario South Coast Wineries and Growers Association are no execption. New Limburg Brewery focuses on traditional Belgian beer styles such as blond ale, wheat beer, and Trappist styles. Their inspiration comes new and old favourite Belgian beer brands, and including North American influences in their beers. Initially, the brewery was hesitant to produce non-Belgian style beers, but when a competition for brewing a Belgian style IPA with local hops came up, the Petit Blond IPA was born. Likewise, the Black Sheep milk stout was also produced for a similar reason. Food also serves as an inspiration, be it creating a creating a beer to pair with a dish or bring certain flavours into their beer, or using local ingredients. Moving forward, New Limburg plans to age their beers in various barrels such as oak and wine to experiment how new flavours and character can be imparted to create unique beers. They will also experiment with cherries, peaches, and raspberries (which aren’t uncommon with Belgian beers) in the brewing process.

Meanwhile at The Blue Elephant, Sarah the brew master, follows a scientific approach to making beer. Once she has an idea for a recipe, she researches the style or ingredient she wants to emphasize the most, allowing her to figure out which approach she wants to take before making it. Then she calculates the math to achieve the optimal final product. By comparing the brew with her calculations, Sarah is then able to adjust the next batch as needed or repeat the process for a consistent beer each time. When it comes to what inspires her, she draws inspiration from anywhere and everywhere. Ingredient use and beer styles are two main sources of inspiration. When it comes to ingredients, she looks to compliment the flavours when adding fruits, vegetables, spices, or tea to a beer. If she has an excess of a certain ingredient or want to use them before they expire, she also creates recipes around them. Aside from experimenting with the brewing process, she also enjoys making a beer true to style while using the most traditional ingredients possible.

Out in Elgin County, Railway City Brewing Co. combines the basic building blocks of beer–water, malt, hops, and yeast – with the goal of producing a pint of beer that is harmoniously balanced and highly approachable. Main sources of brewing inspiration comes from the history of St. Thomas and experimenting with flavour profiles by using fruits, herbs, and spices. Their Dead Elephant and Double Dead Elephant IPAs are both inspired by the death of Jumbo the Elephant, who died in a rail accident in St. Thomas. With the Orange Creamsicale, they were inspired by ice cream parlours and pastry chefs: whole vanilla beans play with the bready, pastry-like sweet malts, while orange zest adds a citrus twist reminiscent of a classic ice cream treat. While uncommon in day-to-day operations, the brewers at Railway City do branch away from traditional beer brewing by using the technique of blending barrels  to create their specialty barrel-aged Barrel Reserve line and Bourbon barrel-aged Stout.

As craft beer culture grown, it has grown more intertwined with wine culture. Modeled after the Sommelier Certification Program, the Cicerone Certification Program was launched in 2008 to ensure proper beer service, particularly food and beer pairing. Certified and Master Cicerones are then able to help beer lovers match their food with the perfect beer choice. Despite sharing the same blue collar stigma as large, industrial beer producers, craft beer isn’t so different from wine after all. There is so much more depth and complexity than meets the eye.

For further reading, click on the links below:
https://www.foodabletv.com/blog/2015/7/22/wine-culture-inspires-rising-craft-beer-movement
https://ithinkaboutbeer.com/2012/06/20/glassware-a-victim-of-the-beer-vs-wine-culture-clash/
https://www.brewersassociation.org/brewers-association/history/history-of-craft-brewing/

Upcoming Updates

Hello All!
We as the association just want to let you know that within in the next few weeks our website will be under minor changes and updates so there is a possibility that some of our pages will no longer work. If there is anything that you are looking for, feel free to visit out Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/oscwga/ or our twitter page: https://twitter.com/ontsouthwine. Feel free to email us or tweet us!

Thanks,
Ontario South Coast Wineries and Growers Association,