Grads learn about Niagara wines from the best

Richie Roberts (BSc ’06), Fielding Estate Winery Winemaker, pours a glass of Fielding Estate 2010 Chardonnay for alumniWhether you grew up in Niagara, or spent a few short years here while attending Brock, you doubtless came in contact with the one of the region’s greatest prides — Niagara wine. Nestled right in the middle of a wine country that boasts close to 100 wineries of varying size, Brock University and many graduates are proud supporters of Niagara’s burgeoning wine industry.So what better way to reunite graduates in Toronto and Burlington than through wine-tasting events designed to highlight, celebrate and discern the nuances of Niagara wines?Burlington wine tasting features two grads More than 30 alumni were treated to a tasting flight of six Fielding Estate wines at Appleby College on Nov. 10. Despite the fact that he was right in the middle of his harvest, Richie Roberts (BSc ’06) guided the group through wines — from Pinot Gris to a Meritage to a Vidal Icewine — while explaining the growing practices, the Beamsville Bench terroir (soil types), and challenges of this year’s harvest. With the scientific background, Kevin Kerr (PhD ’10) nicely accompanied Richie’s presentation with commentary on the exceptional 2010 growing season and its impact on the wines, the effect of weather conditions, and some insight into the cult-like following of Pinot Noir (hint: this thin-skinned grape is elusive and hard to cultivate, but in the right conditions can be exceptional).Congratulations to the Burlington Brock Alumni Network Committee for organizing the event at this unique location, highlighting our alumni. The next Burlington Network event will be in the spring at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre — stay tuned in the new year for more info.If you’re interested in being part of the Burlington Alumni Network Committee, the group that organizes these alumni events, please contact Lynne Irion at [email protected] Gourmet Food and Wine Expo — Vintner’s Barrel TastingOn Nov. 19, Toronto’s Brock alumni had the opportunity to taste wines specially extracted from their barrels for that day. With eight wines from four different wineries (Tawse, Lailey, Thirty Bench, Southbrook), this alumni event allowed graduates to participate in a Tutored Tasting organized through the Gourmet Food & Wine Expo. According to Christopher Waters, Certified Wine Instructor at Brock’s CCOVI (Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute), and the moderator of the tasting, he had never seen so many people attend a Niagara wine-centric session. Knowing the room was full of alumni, Waters received an especially loud applause when introducing CCOVI grad Emma Garner (BSc ’04), winemaker at Thirty Bench winery.The focus of this Tutored Tasting was to school the group on the exceptional growing season of 2010 in Niagara. With the perfect amount of dry sunny weather, and the right doses of rain, the 2010 Vintage is being lauded as a vintage to watch.Emma Garner (BSc ’04), Thirty Bench Winemaker, poses for a photo with her 2010 barrel sample of Meritage (a Bordeaux blend) after the Tutored TastingToronto Committee Member, Andrea Hazard (BA ’91) mentioned her favourite part of the event: “Especially of interest for me is that we are in the process of choosing wines for our wedding reception next year and we definitely wanted to include wines from the Niagara region.  The tasting was incredibly informative and we definitely have some favourites picked out to serve on the big day!”Some takeaways from the event included a new-found appreciation for Cabernet Franc, an understanding of the process of blending barrels to create blended wines (like Thirty Bench’s Meritage), and a general consensus throughout the attendees to take more ownership in promoting local Niagara wines among our circles of friends.Congratulations to the Toronto Brock Alumni Network Committee on this new style of Brock alumni event format. The next Toronto Alumni event will be in the spring, so stay tuned for details in the new year.If you’re interested in being part of the Toronto Alumni Network Committee, the group that organizes these alumni events, please contact Lynne Irion at [email protected]