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Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery
by
Kathy Sullivan

Henry of Pelham Estate WinerySummary: Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery is one of the original wineries in the Niagara Escarpment and is one of the largest estate wineries in the area. They are known for their Baco Noir wines and are celebrating their 25th vintage in 2013.

Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery, a family owned and operated property, has a long history beginning with Nicolas Smith who was a loyalist and received the land in 1794. His son Henry Smith built the facility as an inn and tavern in 1842. In the 20th century, Paul and Bobbi Speck, relatives of Nicolas Smith, purchased several parcels of the original family property and began planting wine grapes. Today their three sons own and operate Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery. The Speck brothers are Paul (President) Matthew (Vice President/Viticulturist) and Daniel (Vice President Sales and Marketing.)

Henry of Pelham Estate WineryTasting Room and Vineyards

The tasting room is located in a renovated cellar of the tavern and inn. In keeping with the history of the inn, the tasting room has kept some of the historical aspects of the old cellar including a large fireplace with a baking oven on the side. Old stonewalls add to the ambiance. The honey-gold color of the pinewood tasting counter stands out in contrast to the darker walls.

Henry of Pelham Estate WineryToday the vineyards, with 170 acres, have 14 varieties including: Baco Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Since 2004 the vineyards have been using the standards set by the Sustainable Winemaking Ontario. The first vintage was 1988. Today the winery also sources grapes from local vineyards. Henry of Pelham winery produces over 100,000 cases.

Henry of Pelham Estate WineryWhite Wines

Our tasting began with Cuvée Catharine, Brut that was named for Henry of Pelham’s wife, Catherine. It was a light straw color with hints of apple. The wine was crisp and palate cleansing. Chardonnay 2010 was barrel fermented. This light yellow wine offered notes of apple, pear and caramel. Caramel nuances were on the finish. Sauvignon Blanc 2011 was a light straw color. The aroma had notes of tropical fruit and lemongrass. The taste was of tropical fruit. The crisp finish had tropical fruit notes yielding to lemon. Pinot Grigio 2011, a pale yellow, with 12.5 percent alcohol was aromatic and would be great for a 3P (patio, porch, pool) wine. Riesling 2009 is the most popular white wine. The color was light yellow with crystal highlights. The aroma had hints of minerality and melon. The taste was smooth with minerality and tropical fruit. The wine finish was crisp and fruity.

Red Wines

Pinot Noir Speck Family Reserve 2009, a ruby wine, had cherry notes on the aroma. The taste also had cherry notes with a hint of mushrooms. The crisp finish had tannins with cherry and earthy nuances. Baco Noir 2010 was a dark ruby color. Tobacco notes were noticed on the aroma. The taste was of dark fruit. The finish, with fruity notes and tannins, yielded to earthiness and tobacco. Cabernet 2011 was a reddish orange. The aroma had strawberry nuances while the taste had strawberry and rhubarb notes. The crisp finish tamed the sweetness. Sibling Rivalry was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. This was an easy drinking red wine with an aroma of dark red berries, smoke and tobacco. The taste was smooth, sweet and very fruity. The finish had tannins with fruit notes. The back label notes: “Sibling Rivalry is greater than the sum of its parts, a blend of the passion, personalities and knowledge of the three Speck brothers from Henry of Pelham and a little rock, paper, scissors.”

Icewines

Henry of Pelham produces three different Icewines. Riesling Icewine was a light golden color and very aromatic and tasty.

Henry of Pelham Estate WineryAfter the tasting we toured the aging facility. On the balcony level we saw old world riddling racks. Bottles of sparkling wine lined the walls. Another side of the balcony overlooked the barrel aging room. Ths cave-like area held hundreds of barrels stacked several levels high. An area with tables provides space for special events in this wonderful setting.

Enjoy a visit to Henry of Pelham where you will discover a tasting room in a mid18th century building and a winery built without sibling rivalry.

Henry of Pelham
1469 Pelham Road 

St. Catharines, Ontario
Canada, L2R 6P7

GPS: N43º 06.546’ W79º 17.754’

Article written September 2012.

 


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