Windrush Estate Winery Lights up Local Palates
Restaurateurs and chefs across Headwaters boost our region’s newest winery with mouthwatering menu matches.
When J.C. Pennie and Marilyn Field embarked on their dream of starting a winery at their majestic country property on the north bench of Hockley Valley, the business-minded pair were led by the science behind growing grapes in Ontario. They researched everything from soil composition to climate data to the latest in viniculture technology. But there was always another powerful driving force: how the wine would taste, especially when enjoyed with food.
They encouraged Windrush winemaker Jonathan Boyle to create a pinot noir to complement J.C.’s favourite lamb dishes. It had to be bold enough to play well with the meat, but not come on too strong, like many reds. Jonathan made a VQA-designated pinot noir with deep berry flavours using high-quality grapes from Niagara’s best vineyards (the on-site grape vines should mature within three years).
More than a dozen local restaurants have signed on to carry the pinot noir and its siblings, pinot grigio and Jim Warren’s “Classic Chardonnay” in 2019 as the winery’s first releases, finding their own felicitous pairings with everything from seafood to roasts, while gleefully sharing Windrush’s local backstory.
“Our restaurant partners share valuable information about wine pairings,” says Marilyn. (She discovered her own love match during a test run of Windrush wines at a Cineplex VIP screening: the pinot noir and fresh cinnamon doughnuts!)
The Windrush team recently welcomed restaurant representatives on a private tour to sample wines in progress, straight from the fermentation tanks and barrels, including a much-anticipated rosé. “We appreciate them telling us about trends in their restaurants so we can tailor our harvest to respond faster to the market,” J.C. explains.
In that spirit, we asked representatives of four well-known local spots to weigh in on the matchmaking they’re overseeing.
Mono Cliffs Inn, Mono
Mono Cliffs Inn is known for offering sunny Australian wines in its cozy dining spaces. But Aussie owner Carol Hall says she happily made room for Windrush’s crisp pinot grigio made from coveted Beamsville Bench grapes. “People are intrigued that it is local. Hockley Valley is not a traditional wine region, so people were quite curious to know more about it,” she says.
The pinot grigio pairs perfectly with chef Jeffrey VandenHoek’s pan-seared Canadian pickerel or Arctic char, which is often served with grilled shrimp and a vegetable purée, Carol says. She and Jeffrey suggest home chefs try the grigio with any fish and a lemon caper beurre blanc.
Mrs. Mitchell’s, Mulmur
Mrs. Mitchell’s owner Heidi Baufeldt carries the Windrush Estate pinot grigio at her beloved country restaurant because “It’s more exciting than your typical pinot grigio,” she says, adding that out-of-towners are keen to try a local wine when they hear about it.
Heidi recommends it with chef Derrick Shedlosky’s popular seafood brochette, a skewer of jumbo black tiger shrimp and sea scallops marinated in basil oil, then grilled and served with a lemon and basil beurre blanc. “We paired this dish with the Windrush pinot grigio because its crisp citrus accents and earthy undertones are perfect for our flavours.”
Terra Cotta Inn, Terra Cotta
Terra Cotta Inn assistant manager Dino Florindi has the enviable job of trying every wine before it takes up residence on the Italian eatery’s wine list. He’s found the Windrush pinot noir fits a particular niche. “It is a lighter red, not too heavy,” he says.
Dino likes to suggest it to guests ordering the fegato di Provimi, calf liver topped with bacon and pearl onions in a white wine sauce. His pro tip for home cooks? Try the pinot noir with any pasta dish with an aioli or light cream sauce, chicken, vegetables, fish or seafood.
At Steakhouse63 you’ll find the Windrush pinot noir balancing out even heartier fare. Office manager Jenna Cristan recommends pairing it with prime rib Yorkies – two Yorkshire puddings stuffed with thinly shaved triple-A prime rib, topped with scallions, crispy onions, demi-glace and horseradish sour cream.
“Windrush is close to our hearts because they are very passionate about what they do,” Jenna says. “And, obviously, because it’s a great wine and we only serve great wines.”
For a full listing of the restaurants and pubs where you can try Windrush Estate wines and winery hours so you can purchase for enjoyment at home, visit windrushestatewinery.com.
This article was created in partnership with Windrush Estate Winery.