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Today We Feature the 13th Street Winery

13th Street Winery – The Original Cult Winery

For those not in the know, 13th Street was Ontario’s original “cult winery”. I remember years ago driving down to Niagara on a Saturday morning, because I had received word that 13th Street was having one of their bi-annual open houses, which they held on one weekend in the spring and one weekend in the fall/winter – other than those times the winery was not open to the public – and those wines were greatly sought after … To the point where, if you arrived on the Sunday of the open house weekend, some of the wines were already sold out … Those were good times.

In this article, we’ll look at the origins of 13th Street and dive a little deeper into who they are today.

“13th Street was established by four award-winning winemakers and friends in 1998 as an Ontario version of a small volume, “cult winery”,” says Doug Whitty, President of 13th Street Winery, “… Crafting wines of the highest possible quality.”

Today, the winery has approximately 60 acres of vineyards with Gamay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, and Merlot grapes in the ground, plus small bits of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. But the main varieties are Gamay noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling when it comes to bottles on the shelves.

With such a pedigree under their belt and having taken over the winery in 2006, Doug, his wife and his two partners have had big shoes to fill; and those big shoes also moved the winery from 13th Street to 4th Avenue – to be more central on the wine route tract … But what is just as impressive is the sign on 13th Street claiming the winery has moved – which has been there for well over a decade. Proving that people still remember 13th Street’s original location – And why wouldn’t they, it was right there in the name.

When asked about industry changes Doug starts with the technology aspect, then the culinary focus and the rise in quality both in the cellar and in the vineyard. “However, I strongly believe that the biggest change that I have seen is not in producers but with respect to consumers. Many more people now recognize that we make world-class wines of great value in Niagara. People are embracing, enjoying, sharing and contributing to an exciting, local wine, food and arts culture as never before.”

In its “cult” past times 13th Street was known for sparkling wine and Gamay, and it’s this Gamay legacy that has stood the test of time: “if I am asked to choose my favorite 13th Street wine, it would have to be our Gamay. I love it in the vineyard, I love it in the cellar and I love it on the shelf. It is so consistently excellent and versatile in terms of wine making and it pairs wonderfully with a wide variety of foods. If Pinot Noir is the “heartbreak grape” then Gamay Noir is definitely the “heartwarming grape”.

13th Street also has one of those iconic winemakers in Niagara, one with plenty of experience. Having come to Ontario in 1999 from Chablis, he has plenty of world wine working knowledge including in such places as Chile, Argentina and New Zealand; he joined 13th Street in 2009 – Jean Pierre Colas (or JP) has quite the resume and reputation in Niagara wine making circles … Doug also singles out another winemaker for his contribution to Niagara wine making: Craig McDonald of Trius. “He has proven himself to be an excellent winemaker over many vintages in his own right, but he is also a very effective industry leader and advocate. He has consistently crafted great wines from distinct terroir in both Ontario and British Columbia. Craig meets challenges with calm professionalism and he works very well with grape growers. I also greatly respect how he continues to serve as a great role model and mentor to winemakers of the next generation.”

13th Street, while no longer on the road they made famous, has changed from small wine producer to one involved in many aspects of the wine culture including food and art … A trip to the winery proves they engross themselves in all three … and don’t forget the bakery and award-winning butter tarts – but, maybe that’s a story for another time.

Top wines according to the winery:
Pinot Gris / Grigio

13th Street winery can be found at
1776 4th Avenue
St Catharines, Ontario

And on social media…
Facebook – @13thStreetWinery
Twitter – @13thStreetWines
Instagram – @13thstreetwinery

Michael Pinkus

Michael Pinkus is a multi-award-winning journalist as well as national and international wine judge. He is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in numerous publication both in Canada and internationally.  He is also the sole writer for his eponymous website (formerly, and past-President of the Wine Writers’ Circle of Canada (2010-2015). You can also follow him two ways on Facebook: (Michael Pinkus

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