Niagara College uncorks victory at the All Canadian Wine Championships

Winemaker Gavin Robertson is pictured at the Niagara College Teaching Winery with three wines that recently won medals at the All Canadian Wine Championships: 2015 Balance Semi-Dry Riesling (gold), 2015 Balance Viognier (bronze), and 2014 Marmitons Gastronomy Pinot Noir (bronze).

The Niagara College Teaching Winery has harvested national success with three new award-winning wines.

The Teaching Winery, located at the College’s Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus, won three medals at the 36th annual All Canadian Wine Championships (ACWC). Its 2015 Balance Semi-Dry Riesling captured gold in the Riesling Off Dry category. It also won two bronze medals – for its 2015 Balance Viognier (in the Viognier category), and for its 2014 Les Marmitons Gastronomy Pinot Noir (Pinot Noir Under $25 category).

The oldest and one of the largest competitions for Canadian wineries, winning an award at the ACWC is a significant achievement, said competition director Bev Carnahan. She noted that the Pinot Noir and Riesling categories are always difficult to win and this year was no exception – with 38 entries for Pinot Noir Under $25, and 35 entries for Riesling Off Dry. Viognier is also increasingly competitive each year, she said, with 23 entries this year.

“Like skimming cream off the top, we only award medals to the very best,” said Carnahan.

The news was applauded at the NC Teaching Winery, the first and only commercial teaching winery in Canada. The 2016 ACWC awards were the first awards ever received for the three wines which are all new releases at the Teaching Winery, said winemaker Gavin Robertson. He noted that it was particularly rewarding for him to see the 2015 Balance Semi-Dry Riesling win gold.

“The grape, as it grows in Ontario particularly, is close to my heart,” said Robertson. “It’s just so versatile with food and is always vibrant and fresh and, in the right vintage, can also age well.”

The 2015 Balance Viognier was the first of its kind for the NC Teaching Winery, since the grape is uncommon in Ontario – most famously vinified in Northern Rhone region of France. The Teaching Winery experimented with the batch, fermenting some in older French oak barrels, and some in stainless steel, then aging the wine on its yeast lees for a few months to build structure and weight.

“I was happy with the final blend and it’s nice to see that it played well with the awards panel at the ACWC,” said Robertson.

The 2014 Les Marmitons Gastronomy Pinot Noir was one of two wines produced from a recent collaboration between the Teaching Winery and Les Marmitons – an international gastronomic and social club for those who share an interest in fine food, wine and the culinary arts. Along with 2014 Les Marmitons: Gastronomy Chardonnay, proceeds from sales of both wines help to support student learning.

“These wines are emblematic of the deep roots NC shares with the regional community, which is so closely tied to the agricultural products that grow so well in this part of Ontario, including grapes,” said Robertson.

Judging for the 2016 ACWC took place June 7-9 in Prince Edward County. The competition drew a record number of 1,356 entries this year from 237 wineries, meaderies and cideries. Entries were critiqued by a panel of 19 judges and 502 awards were granted – 127 from Ontario. For information visit

Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Part-Time Studies courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit
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