Niagara College Icewine reigns at Royal Wine Competition


Best of Ontario Wines Announced at the 95th Royal (CNW Group/Royal Agricultural Winter Fair)

Roll out the red carpet for Best in Show Desert Wine winner: Teaching Winery’s 2013 Prodigy Icewine

The Icewine harvest is an annual rite of passage for wine students at Niagara College, and the fruits of their labour are proving to be among the best in the province.

The NC Teaching Winery’s 2013 Dean’s List Prodigy Icewine won Best in Show Dessert Wine at the 95th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair Wine Competition. The competition, run in cooperation with the Independent Wine Educators Guild under the direction of Chris Waters (chief judge), showcases the best in VQA Ontario wines.

College winemaker Gavin Robertson, who is also a graduate of NC’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program  (2011), was pleased with the result and noted the NC Teaching Winery’s past successes at the Royal – including a Best in Show Overall wine award in 2015.

“It’s nice to see our wines take top marks across categories and years, since it means that we’re managing to maintain consistent quality in the cellar across many different vintages, and involving dozens, even hundreds, of students in these award-winning activities,” he said.

While all wines at the NC Teaching Winery are made in collaboration with students, the Icewine harvest offers students a unique learning experience like no other.

“Nothing says ‘applied education’ like waking up in the middle of the night to join your classmates in a frigid, snowy vineyard, under floodlights, to pick and press grapes, and we do a great job at rousing extra faculty, administrators and friends with the students as well,” said Robertson. “We engage our wine students in the Icewine making process all the way from grape to glass.”

While the cold winter weather in 2013-2014 may not have been desirable for pickers, it provided exceptional conditions for Icewine, Robertson noted. The fruit was slightly under-ripe going into December leaving tough skins and the fruit intact, allowing the berries to survive well through the freeze-thaw weather cycles leading to the January Icewine harvest.

“We were really happy with the wine as it had the great fruit concentration and luscious, full body that we look for in good quality Icewine, but also a high degree of complexity from the blend and processing techniques,” he said.

The 2013 Dean’s List Prodigy Icewine also won a Double Gold at the 2017 All Canadian Wine Championships.

“The Royal is all about local food and that includes Ontario VQA wines,” said Royal CEO Charlie Johnstone. “We appreciate the support of the wineries that entered and we invite the public to find out more about these award winners.”

The wine competition wasn’t Robertson’s only involvement at the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair; he also asked by Food and Beverage Ontario to participate in a panel to discuss careers in agriculture education.

The world’s largest combined indoor agricultural and equestrian show, the 95th Royal Agricultural Winter Fair was held from November 3 to November 12 at Exhibition Place in Toronto.

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