Creekside Estate Winery
If you’re an Ontario red wine fan you have most likely heard of Creekside, who have made a name for themselves for a blend of red grapes called “Laura’s Red” it’s as much a staple and as iconic in Ontario winemaking as Trius’s Red … and as consistently good.
But Creekside didn’t just stumble onto the scene, they have been honing their craft since 1997 when then owner, Laura McCain – of the McCain family (yes the ones whose French fries you may be munching on right now) moved to Ontario and decided that since she had a winery, in her native Nova Scotia, needed one as well in Ontario. Creekside is no longer in the McCain family, but it sure has kept up its quality standards.
Today the winery sits on 14 acres of land planted mostly to Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Gris on the Beamsville Bench – in an area referred to as Creek Shores sub-appellation; with an additional 35 acres in Niagara-on-the Lake at their Queenston Mile facility where the rest of their grapes come from for their red wines: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and even Pinot Noir as well as Chardonnay and Viognier (white grapes) … but truly the most impressive grape Creekside has commandeered is Syrah – a grape that has no business growing in Ontario, and yet Creekside has made a name for themselves with it – due in big part to the pocket of land they found to grow Syrah in the St David’s bench (southern part of Niagara-on-the-Lake).
Today winemaker Rob Power, and his assistant Yvonne Irving, continue the tradition started at Creekside.
Rob began his career with Creekside back in its infancy, back in 2000 after attending Brock’s CCOVI program (Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute) for winemaking, graduating in their first class (2000). In Rob’s words: “I started at Creekside as assistant winemaker in the spring of 2000, and never moved on. 20 years later, every vintage is different and I love what I do.” Rob attributes his love for wine to when he was tending bar at Toronto’s Le Select Bistro: “I started to get really interested in wine, eventually I took the responsibility of purchasing wine for their huge list, which is when I really went down the rabbit hole for keeps.”
Today, Creekside is known for three things: Laura’s Red, as mentioned above, Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah – you could not find another winery in Ontario that boasts those three grapes as they’re claimed to fame – heck I would be surprised if two of those are together on anybody’s list of accomplishments; they’ve taken a very different approach from any other winery in Niagara and it has very much worked for them.
In his 20 years in the industry Rob has seen much go on, and he is liking the direction things are going “More players making increasingly great wines, the bar is raised every vintage … The generation that is coming into the market has great interest in eating and drinking local. If we can get more Ontarians drinking VQA wine, the industry will remain healthy.”
Rob also tips his hat to those who have been leading the way in Ontario Wine making, both past and present: “Malivoire, for marketing innovation and great wine. Cave Spring for pioneering and maintaining greatness. KEW for raising the bar on bubbly. I could go on …” and that’s not the first time he mentioned sparkling wine during our interview: “the emergence of bubbles is an important component in Niagara.” And he’s right, it is the fastest growing wine style in Ontario – it’s as if every Ontario winery is taking a tip from The Cranberries first album “Everybody Else Is Doing It, So Why Can’t We” (1993). Creekside has their own bit of bubbly magic, a traditional method called “Trad” and one made from Sauvignon Blanc called Backyard Block Bubbly.
After 23 years Creekside is still doing it right, with no sign of slowing down, appealing to both old school Ontario wine fans with their Laura’s Red and their newer style of wines for those curious about the direction Ontario wines can be taken, called the Undercurrent Series – limited production and sometimes just one off trials that make their way into bottle … wines made for those willing to take a chance or have a “different” palate. The winery has a motto on their website “Serious wines from an irreverent bunch”, today they also refer to themselves as “cork dorks”, but no matter how you pop the cork or unscrew the cap these guys (and gals) are making the Ontario wine industry a more interesting place.
Creekside Estate Winery is located at:
2170 Fourth Avenue
Link to Reviews:
2017 Laura’s Red –
2016 Broken Press
2016 Unbroken Press