Malcolm Jolley took his camera to Niagara’s wine growers and makers gala.

Last Saturday Jamie and I loaded up the Subaru and headed down the Queen Elizabeth Way to attend Cuvée, the annual awards gala and grand tasting in Niagara Falls organized by The Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University. We had a grand time, tasting Ontario VQA wines with women and men who make them and catching-up with trade and media types, all of whom have a deep love for our cool climate terroir. And, see below, I have the pictures to prove it. But Cuvée is more than a great party and a delicious and fun way to begin a new season of grape growing and winemakeing in Ontario. It’s also a chance for the community of growers and makers to honour their own. This year, Martin Schuele, who grows grapes for Arterra Wines Canada, won the BASF Canada Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence Award, Doug Whitty and 13th Street Winery won the Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence, and Inniskillin’s prodigal Ontario son, Bruce Nicholson won the Winemaker of Excellence Award.

Here are some of the fine people Jamie and I met at Cuvée 2019…

Before we even got into the main room we said hello to winmaker Ann Sperling from Southbrook, who we discovered was pouring her 2017 Wild Ferment Chardonnay and 2016 Petit Verdot.

Once in the door we migrated over to the Peller booths where we said hello to Thirty Bench winemaker Emma Garner and Peller Estates winemaker Katie Dickieson.

Not far from Emma and Katie, Peller VP and Senior Winemaker Craig McDonald was getting a media hit with Toronto Life reviewers and Ontario wine fanatics André Proulx and Michael Pinkus a.k.a. 2 Guys Talking Wine.

It’s always a pleasure to share a toast with award winning drinks writer Sarah Parniak, who was on a sparkling wine mission that evening.

Power wino couple Paul Pender head winemaker at Tawse and Alison Findlay assistant winemaker at Flat Rock with Magdalena Kaiser, Director of Public Relations, Marketing & Tourism for Wine Marketing Association of Ontario a.k.a. Wine Country Ontario. Kudos to Mr. Pender for bringing the 2013 David’s Lot Merlot, the last bottling from vines that were damaged beyond repair by the Polar Vortex.

The camera’s were trained on Malivoire Winemaker Shiraz Mottier in between pours of first of the season 2018 Vivant Rosé and 100% Musqué bubbles: Che Bello.

Sommeliers and wine writers Evan Saviolidis of Wine Savvy and Erin Henderson of the Wine Sisters strike a pose.

The indomitable Shauna White, winemaker at Adamo, shows as elegantly as her 2017 Viogner-Roussane that was on hand.

When not giving out awards of excellence, Tony Aspler CM could be seen roaming about glass in hand.

No man tastes more wine than Vintage Assessments‘ Michael Vaughn, here with multinational Pinot and Chardonnay guru Thomas Bachelder, who confounded us (pleasantly) by pouring Domaine Queylus‘ delicious 2016 Cabernet Franc Tradition.

Melanie Waters escorts her dandy husband wine columnist Christopher and the equally dapper Dick Snyder, Drink Toronto.

WineAlign’s Michael Godel shares a photo with Jamie and Alexandra Szabo.

It’s always good to run into Renaissance man and broadcaster Suresh Doss, and this time I got to meet his wife Esther Katzman. Suresh told me about a fish restaurant, just around the corner from my house in Toronto, I had no idea about. Can’t wait to try it.

Ah well, as the evening wore on and many glasses of wine were tasted, friends didn’t let friends drive tractors refreshed… Here Chef Ryan Crawford of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s superlative Backhouse talks a tired and emotional journalist from Toronto off of the Kubota.

See you at Cuvée 2020.