Our 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon took a road trip recently, and ended up finding a new home in our nation’s capital.  Beckta Dining & Wine, on Nepean Street in Ottawa, is the latest member of our extended Five Rows family.  I haven’t had the opportunity to dine there yet, but countless “foodie” acquaintances have assured me that our wine is in good hands.  The refreshing philosophy at Beckta is to “change involved and sometimes intimidating culinary experiences into the comfortable and remarkable”.  Sounds like my kind of place!

Closer to home, Five Rows was recently featured in an article by wine writer Rick VanSickle of the St. Catharines Standard.  You can read it here.

My Little Helper


Finally…some quality time with Lucy!

I get a chuckle when I look at how much she’s changed over her first nine months of life.  Here is the pictorial evidence.


Zoltan Szabo Reviews


Sommelier Zoltan Szabo is a jack of all trades on the Toronto wine scene.  A wine consultant, writer and educator, his vast enological knowledge has been proven time and again through consistently high finishes at International Sommelier competitions.  His dashing personality and skill with the pen make him a personal favourite of mine.  For that reason, I was slightly starstruck to receive an email from Zoltan wishing to try our wines. Casting jitters aside, I had him try our current Five Rows portfolio.  Here are his thoughts:

“The wines are clean, varietally really accurate, honestly-made, not ambitious nor over-blown stylistically speaking, all natural with unmistakable signs of the love of land and winemaking passion.”

2008 Pinot Gris Five Rows, Lowrey Vineyards, St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Tastefully done package, some label descriptors are hand-written, also indicating the exact count of the bottle you are tasting, in this case the 112th. The colour has a tiny tint of cooper, characteristic of the grape. Aromas of white peach and pear, white blossoms and spice. Medium bodied with slight oily texture, sweet white summer fruit and orange toffee-nutty flavours, and a pretty long star anise, mineral-accented finish. 57 cases produced. $25.

4 stars out of 5.

2008 Sauvignon Blanc Five Rows, Lowrey Vineyards, St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Lime, kiwi, lemon tree blossom bouquet. Light and fresh over the palate with savoury fruit and mineral flavors and the finish brings along very pleasant honeydew melon nuances. A delicate Sauv Blanc here, perfect with pure, Willapa Bay Kumamoto oysters. 64 cases produced.

4 stars out of 5.

2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Five Rows, Lowrey Vineyards, St. David’s Bench, Niagara Peninsula VQA

Classic, old world-style Cab Sauv with aromas and flavours of blueberries, plums, currants, white pepper, tobacco and underlying scorched earth and gamey notes that I seem to find in many of St. David’s Bench reds. Medium plus bodied and dry with soft, melted-in tannins and with neat accents of boysenberries, tar-bitter chocolate and herbaceous finish. Drinking very well right now. 45 cases produced.

4 + stars out of 5.

You can read Zoltan’s blog and find more of his reviews at

The Next Challenge


At 8:03 AM on January 2nd, a new era began at Lowrey Vineyards.  As the sun peeked over the escarpment we welcomed the dawn of our very own “Ice Age”.   After an evening of perfect freezing conditions (-12 degrees Celsius) it was decided to harvest five rows of Cabernet Sauvignon, our first foray into the world of Icewine.  A beautiful morning unfolded before us, with a light snow gently filtering the weak rays of winter sun.  It soon became clear that picking the fruit and braving the cold are the easy part, and actually quite enjoyable.

To understand the travails of pressing frozen grapes to yield minute amounts of juice, I want you to imagine trying to squeeze a tray of ice cubes in an effort to produce water.  It takes equal amounts of pressure and patience I assure you!  Too much of the former and not enough of the latter can lead to problems…big problems.  Less than a minute into the second press load I cranked up the pressure and was horrified to hear the sickening hiss of a slow leak in the press bladder.  Luckily we had a back-up bladder on hand, but the subsequent dismantling of the press load and bladder re-assembly really set us back.  In the end, patience prevailed and the luscious Cab juice began to flow.  It was thick, sweet and full of super-concentrated flavours of ripe strawberry and raspberry.

At this stage the plan is to make a traditional Icewine, but I could be persuaded to ferment it a little longer for those seeking more of a drier, “late harvest” style.  Initial feedback tells me that Icewine is often perceived as being “too sweet” for some palates (including mine at times), but I challenge those people to try Cabernet  Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc Icewine with dark chocolate or strong cheeses.  Simply delectable!