2015 Lieutenant Governor's Awards for Excellence in Ontario Wine

Grape Growers of Ontario salute the 2015 winners of the Lieutenant Governor's Wine Awards, established in 2011 to promote Ontario's VQA wines made from 100% Ontario grown and processed grapes.  This year's winners are:

Back: Martin Werner, Ravine Vineyard; Ben Minaker, Ravine Vineyard; Lydia Tomek, Hernder Estate Wines; Ed Madronich, Flat Rock Cellars; Rob Power, Creekside Estate Winery; Ed Madronich Sr., Flat Rock Cellars
Front: Marco Piccoli, Jackson-Triggs; Katie Dickieson, Peller Estates Winery; Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario; David Stasiuk, Rockway Vineyards; Emma Garner, Thirty Bench Wine Makers
Photo from Lieutenant Governor's Office
Riddled Sparkling, 2009, Flat Rock Cellars
Riesling, 2010, Hernder Estate Wines
Riesling Icewine Reserve, 2013, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate
Sauvignon Blanc Signature Series, 2013, Peller Estates Winery
Small Lot Riesling “Wild Cask”, 2013, Thirty Bench Wine Makers
Gravity Pinot Noir, 2012, Flat Rock Cellars
Riesling, 2014,Creekside Estate Winery
Chardonnay, 2013,Ravine Vineyard
Gamay Noir Private Reserve, 2013, Peller Estates Winery
Small Lot Block 12-140 Syrah, 2012, Rockway Vineyards​

Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell visits Flatrock Cellars
By Luke Edwards

Ed Madronich isn’t satisfied with Niagara being Ontario’s premier wine region. He’s not even happy calling the peninsula Canada’s top spot for wine.

“We’re not just a good wine region. It’s one of the best wine regions in the world,” the president of Flat Rock Cellars said last week as Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell visited the Jordan winery with a contingent of international consular delegates. Dowdeswell toured local wineries, including Flat Rock last Wednesday ahead of an awards presentation for the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Wine Awards.

“I love to hear the stories of these family operations,” Dowdeswell said. “That’s really what makes this country so special, families working together to give something to their local communities.”

Madronich’s father, also named Ed, founded the winery in 1999. The younger Madronich explained Flat Rock focused on environmental sustainability right from the start. They avoid the use of herbicides and pesticides, use plant cover crops to naturally put nutrients back into the soil, and do nearly all the work on the vineyards, and in the winery, by hand.

When the elder Madronich designed the winery, he took advantage of its place on the Niagara Escarpment, using gravity to move the wine through the various stages in the winemaking process.

“It’s just in our blood to do it in an environmentally friendly perspective,” the younger Madronich said.

“At the end of the day, we’re farmers.”

When they were building the winery it was the very early days of the LEEDS certification. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification promotes building sustainable aspects into any construction, but at the time, Madronich said LEEDS wasn’t on anyone’s radar. And yet, the winery incorporated a number of LEEDS type aspects into the building.

Dowdeswell said she was happy to see the environmental aspects Flat Rock is taking.

“That, of course, is so critically important in many sectors,” she said.

Former Lieutenant Governor David Onley created the wine awards as a way to celebrate the work done by wineries throughout the province. As both an important economic driver for Ontario and something that puts the province on the map from a global perspective, Dowdeswell said it was important for her to continue the awards. This year marked the first time the awards were handed out with Dowdeswell at the helm.

While she doesn’t consider herself a wine connoisseur, Dowdeswell said she does enjoy a glass from time to time. But the Queen’s representative for Ontario was diplomatic when asked for a favourite.

“I wouldn’t declare a favourite,” she said with a laugh.

Two Flat Rock wines received honours at this year’s awards: its 2009 Riddled Sparkling wine and the 2012 Gravity Pinot Noir.

Madronich said the award is more a reflection of the staff at Flat Rock than anything.

“It’s a testament to the great team we have here,” he said.