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What We Learned at WINEstock 2018

On June 26th restaurant owners, sommeliers and chefs alike joined us for an interactive day of wine tastings, workshops and networking at WINEstock 2018.

Held in partnership with George Brown College and VQA Wines of Ontario, it was a day for industry to delve into Ontario wine.

We tackled one big questions: why should our local wine have a serious presence on every wine list? If you weren’t able to make it, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Here’s everything that went down.

Loving Local Bubbles

We kicked off the day with some Ontario bubbly. Okay, a lot of Ontario bubbly.

Canadian Sommelier Jamie Drummond led us through a blind tasting of 7 of Ontario’s most noteworthy sparkling wines. The conversation centered around what kinds of foods and menus are best suited for sparkling wine pairings.


His verdict? Anything goes. It turns out that if you have a tricky dish on your menu, Ontario sparkling wine is likely your answer. It’s so incredibly versatile and comes in a variety of styles.


  • Cuvee Catherine Brut, Henry of Pelham
  • Brut, Ravine Vineyards
  • 2012 Premiere Cuvee, 13th Street Winery
  • 2012 Sparkling Chardonnay,  Angel’s Gate Winery
  • Lily Sparking, Colio Estates
  • Entourage Sparkling Merlot, Jackson Triggs.

Riesling: Ontario’s White Knight

After we had had our fill of sparkling, we moved on to discuss the power of Ontario Riesling, and why we do it so well.

Riesling is a cold-climate varietal, the grape grows and ripens slowly. It produces a complex and balanced wine with high acidity and minerality, making it an easy wine to pair with food. This is because wines with complex flavours and higher acidity help to highlight the flavours in a dish.

The big take away from this session was that Rieslings grown and made in Ontario aren’t cloying and sweet. They can be refreshing, complex and balanced.


  • Small Lot Wood Post Riesling, Thirty Bench
  • Nadja’s Vineyard Riesling, Flat Rock Cellars
  • CSV Riesling, Cave Spring Cellars
  • Picone Vineyard Riesling, Charles Baker Riesling

chefOn the menu: the Feast On® Lunch

Lunch was prepared by George Brown Culinary students, who used product donated by several Feast On Preferred Purveyors.

But that’s not all! We were at WINEstock after all. Each course was paired with a blind tasting, and if attendees guessed the varietal they won some VQA Wines of Ontario swag.


Can you guess what was paired with each of the following dishes?

  • Baby Arugula, Grilled Asparagus , Endive Salad, topped with Maple Chipotle Pecans from Jewels Under the Kilt
  • Grilled Ontario shrimp from Planet Shrimp with Soba noodles, Chinese broccoli and tomato ginger sauce
  • Sous-Vide VG Meats Flatiron Steak, Sautee of Bell Peppers and Chimichurri Sauce

Red is Best

Bringing the day to a close, Darcy MacDonell from Feast On certified FARMHOUSE Tavern led a final blind tasting of Ontario reds.


We learned that Ontario’s red wines can shine just as brightly as our sparkling. Ontario Gamay Noir for example, is made with more concentration and is often aged in oak, resulting in a richer style of wine than is traditional for Gamay – and also what makes this so unique to Ontario.


  • Small Lot Gamay, Malivoire Wines
  • Gamay Noir, Chateau De Charmes
  • Gamay Noir, Estate Series, Cattail Creek
  • JCR Pinot Noir, Rosehall Run
  • K.J. Pinot Noir, Closson Chase

We feel so inspired after this day of learning and are looking forward to seeing more Ontario VQA wine popping up on menus around the province. If you’re looking for recommendations, be sure to keep tabs on the team from Wine Country Ontario!