2022 Pinot Gris


2022 Five Rows Pinot Gris

When our newest block of Pinot Gris was planted back in 2019, the original plan was to allow it to establish over the next couple of vintages then flourish into a full crop in 2022.  Mother Nature had other plans, and those vulnerable young vines were forced to bear the brunt of a brutal winter.

The idea in founding a second block of Pinot Gris (Clone 53, rootstock 3309) was to provide a complimentary 8-row parcel to our original planting, which was starting to show signs of decline in both yield and vine health.  The two blocks would co-exist for some time until the older vines needed to be pulled out altogether, hopefully later than sooner.

As it turned out, the only fruit available from either block in 2022 was that provided by the sucker shoots sprouting up from the bottom of the vine.  Any clusters provided by these future trunks are a bonus, but can be challenging to keep clean growing so close to the ground.  The number one concern for the vines at this stage is re-establishing trunks for next season, so this bonus fruit inevitably becomes a bit of an afterthought through the growing season.

That low hanging fruit was hand harvested on September 14th, 2022.  We ended up with about 45 picking boxes in total or 542kg to be exact.  After whole cluster pressing, the juice yield was a whopping 370L.  It was decided to ferment 220L in neutral French oak and 150L in tank, using X16 yeast.  The fermentations were conducted at an average of 9C and stopped at a specific gravity of 0.997.

The small volume winemaking employed in crafting this wine brought me back to the early days of Five Rows.  Something about having an entire year’s production housed in one barrel and a very small tank rekindled those initial feelings of anticipation I experienced when making my first Pinot Gris in our “new” barn some 15 years earlier.

In the end, I’m very happy that we undertook the effort to vinify that small amount of Pinot Gris, as it would have been very easy to let the birds or the wasps have their way with the tasty, sweet clusters.  Sentimentally, this vintage will always mark the first time we blended the fruit from both of our Pinot Gris blocks into one wine.  The result is a beautifully complex and compelling white wine, with typical Pinot Gris aromatics of pear, apple, peach and honey.  The texture is delicate and the wine comes across slightly off-dry on the palate.  Best enjoyed at 50-60F, or just above typical refrigerator temperature.



Winemaker’s Dinner


For those interested in a special culinary experience, I encourage you to join us for our upcoming Treadwell Winemaker’s Dinner on March 22.

This night is always a treat for my family, an opportunity to catch up with friends and share the amazing creations put together by the Treadwell team.  It is an oasis of sorts in the midst of the winter grind.

Call James for details or to book a spot at the table (905-934-9797).

Uncorking A Hidden Gem


Back in the fall, we were visited by St. Catharines Standard photographer Bob Tymczyszyn on a few occasions over the course of harvest.  The images he shot and subsequent article he wrote can be read here.

I will be forever grateful to Bob for capturing some special moments I enjoyed harvesting Syrah with my Mom and pressing Cab Sauv with my Dad.  These are times I cherish, yet can’t truly appreciate until I see them through the eyes of someone creative like Bob.


Mother & Son

Fantastic Four

I’d like to thank Rick VanSickle for including us in his latest article   “The Fantastic Four: Exciting New Niagara Wineries That Are Setting The Bar For Excellence”.

It’s especially satisfying when someone takes the time to thoughtfully share the way we’ve chosen to craft and present our wines.  Rick has been a great supporter of Five Rows since we first opened back in 2008.  To hear him describe the unique manner in which my mother entertains her guests makes me happy and proud.  Rarely does a week go by wherein I don’t receive a heartfelt thank-you note from someone who has been introduced to our wines by Wilma.  I’m a very lucky Winemaker (and son).

To be featured alongside Kevin and Thomas is a fun coincidence, as our journeys have been somewhat intertwined.  It was back in 2002 that Kevin and I worked together at Creekside Estate Winery, a formative time when pie-in-the-sky dreams of starting our own wineries were just taking shape.  We spent many days discussing those future plans while working side by side in the very Queenston Road vineyard he now uses for his wonderful 2027 Cellars Pinot Noir.  Thomas discovered the Lowrey Vineyard while tasting some of the early Inniskillin Alliance Pinot Noir’s that we were fortunate to be a part of.  As mentioned in the article, he now sources fruit from our old Pinot block for his Bachelder series of wines.

Father’s Day


There are days when I feel overwhelmed.  It usually occurs around this time of year when despite my best efforts, I just can’t seem to catch up to the work that needs to be done.  There are weak moments (humid, dizzy moments) that I actually begin to second guess my calling.  Who on earth would be stupid enough to willingly submit themselves to the rigours of thinning grapes in this oppressive heat?

Just as I convince myself that my afternoon efforts might be better spent monitoring the progress of 2011 Pinot Noir barrels in the cool confines of the barn, I spot a cloud of dust emanating from the far corner of our 60 acres.  Cue the proverbial forehead slap…

There is an individual in the center of that dust cloud who’s work ethic is second to none.  He skillfully guides the tractor and disk, eventually making the careful wide turn for the next row.  Four rows over, three rows back.  A pattern he has repeated time and again for the last 40 years.

I get to the farm in the morning and he’s out there – I leave in the afternoon and he’s still out there.  We may pass each other at some point during the day,  but no words need to be spoken.   That cloud of dust is his example.  My second guessing comes to an abrupt halt.  When I was younger I couldn’t wait until it was my turn to do all the tractor work.  Now I hope that day never comes.

As I sing his praises, a comical beer commercial flashes to mind and it occurs to me that my father might just be, “The most interesting man in the world” (or at least St. Davids).  Some proof:

His pre-dawn enthusiasm puts my Golden Retriever to shame.

Powdery Mildew is afraid of him.

His internal alarm clock laughs at my snooze button.

‘Hydration’ is a foreign term to him.  He drinks beer and coffee, and when he’s really thirsty…Lipton Cup-a-Soup.

He could jump-start a canoe.

He doesn’t buy new golf clubs, he buys a new wrench (mainly because he broke something and can’t find the wrench he bought last week…and he can beat you with his old clubs anyway).

Happy Father’s Day to all the early risers and “Stay thirsty my friends!”

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.