A couple of weeks ago, for the first time in a long time, I was finally able to get out to the Niagara Peninsula to visit a few wineries. It was a Wednesday, the weather was perfect, and there weren’t too many crowds…just the way I like it. My first stop was Ridge Road Estate Winery. I made my way up the steep, winding road that led me up the escarpment in the shade of a lush, green forest. It was beautiful. I wondered how it managed to be so very green with the very little rain we’ve had so far this summer. Suddenly, I found myself in the bright sunshine again, heading west along Ridge Road to the winery.
Ridge Road Winery was founded by Jayne and Sean Douglas on land that has been owned by Jayne’s family for about 100 years. In 1994, after purchasing the property from Jayne’s family, they started planting vines and selling the grapes to local wineries. They now make their own wine and just recently opened an attractive tasting room.
Of the 60 acres of land on the property, about 12 acres has been planted with vines. The remaining acres will be left to provide habitat for the abundant wildlife in the area. Ridge Road is dedicated to quality. All the grapes are hand-picked and sorted and the wines are made in small batches. They produce a range of styles, including whites, rosés, reds, sparkling wine, single varietals, and a few unique blends.
Sean, who was working the tasting room when I arrived, was very friendly and extremely passionate about his wines. I was able to taste most of what is available right now and I was impressed by the quality. It’s definitely worth the trip up the escarpment.
2010 Unoaked Chardonnay ($16.95): Attractive aromas of green apple, pear, lemon, and mineral. Crisp and refreshing, yet soft, on the palate. A nice summer wine.
2008 Riesling ($14.95): Minerally and citrussy aromas with a touch of kerosene on the nose. Refreshing acidity and a lingering finish.
2009 Riesling ($15.95): Complex with aromas of white blossoms and more peachy fruit than the 2008. The palate shows melon, peach, wet stone, and citrus with the typical zesty Riesling acidity.
2009 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay ($16.95): 17 months in mostly French barrels and then finished with a little American oak. Floral and fruity with aromas of peach, pineapple, butterscotch, and a cinnamon spiciness. Very creamy on the palate with a vanilla finish. Quite nice.
2010 Intersection ($15.95): A blend of Gewurztraminer, Riesling, and a little unoaked Chardonnay. Quite pronounced aromas of flowers, peach, apricot, citrus, and wet stone. Very soft on the palate with lychee, wet stone, and citrus. A great patio sipping wine! (Unfortunately, I think I may have bought the last bottle.)
2008 Vineridge Blend (12.95): An interesting blend of Traminette, Geisenheim 318, Riesling, and a splash of Vidal. A slightly funky nose of grapefruit, peach pit, mineral, earth, and perhaps mushroom (?). Crisp acidity and a good length. Grapefruit citrus and mineral on the finish.
2009 Pinot Noir ($19.95): A pretty, bright ruby colour with aromas of fresh cherry, strawberry, cranberry, red currant, earth, and a touch of chocolate. Nice and juicy on the palate with a pleasant lingering finish.
2009 Gamay ($15.95): Sean told me they use Barolo yeast to ferment this wine and it is aged in both French and American oak. This is a bigger, more complex Gamay than those of Beaujolais in France. Aromas of black pepper, cherry, red currant, earth, and a lovely floral note. Juicy fruit flavours and crushed black pepper on the palate make this a perfect BBQ wine.
2008 Baco Noir ($14.95): One of the best Baco Noirs I’ve tried. Soft and smooth, with aromas and flavours of smoky black cherry, red licorice, and spice.