Sheep in vineyard

After lunch at Ravine Vineyard, we headed to Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Bill Redelmeier, who owns the winery with his wife Marilyn, greeted us outside the hospitality pavilion. We immediately headed over to the vineyard, where Southbrook’s flock of sheep were hanging out amongst the vines. The sheep have helped Southbrook become Canada’s first biodynamic-certified winery, which means that the entire property is organic and is treated as a self-contained and self-sustaining organism. (See my previous entry about a couple farms in the Ottawa area that follow biodynamic principles.)

Southbrook’s environmental commitment extends to their hospitality pavilion as well. The pavilion was designed by renowned Canadian architect Jack Diamond, and is LEED-gold certified, which is a third-party certification program for high performance green buildings. The building is worth visiting just for the architecture alone. Almost entirely glass, it offers views out to the vineyard from floor to ceiling. The front of the building has a 200-metre long landscape wall, with rainwater retention ponds perfectly integrated into the building design. Not surprisingly, the building won a 2009 International Architecture Award, known as “the world’s most prestigious architecture award”.

After we sampled some wine in the main store and tasting room, we were led to a private tasting room with oak barrels on one side and a view to the vineyards on another. We sampled numerous wines while Bill Redelmeier shared his passion for wine-making and environmental responsibility. All the wines were great, but the biggest reaction came at the end when we tasted Southbrook’s Framboise fruit wine (made from raspberries). The flavour is just so intense with raspberries – it’s delicious! This wine has won many international awards, and is Southbrook’s best-known product. They also have three other fruit wines (Cassis (black currant), Blackberry, and Blueberry), but only Framboise is available at the LCBO. You’ll need to visit the winery if you want to try the other flavours, or order from http://www.winerytohome.com. While at the winery, you can also purchase numerous other Southbrook wines, including their Poetica line.

Here are some pictures from the visit. Several of these are press photos provided by Southbrook.