Wayne Gretzky, Canada’s sports king, has turned his attention to making wine for some time. And, like most things in his life he’s focused his attention on, he’s doing a pretty good job of it.
Or that’s if you trust the Niagara Cuvee’ Awards of 2010 to know what they’re talking about. And most people, who know wine, do.
Known as the “Oscar’s” of Niagara’s Regional wines, each February the area’s winemakers gather, sip and savor to determine who amongst them have produced the most notable wines for their participating vintages.
This year, the Wayne Gretzky Estates wine entries took home one Gold and another Tied for Third Place Gold. In the category of Red Assemblage, Wayne Gretzky Estates’ WINNER was its Estate Series Shiraz Cabernet 2007 for which it took GOLD. In the category of Meritage, Gretzky Estates’ Estate Series Cabernet Merlot 2007 tied for 3rd Place Gold in this past February’s Niagara Cuvee’ Awards.
The Cuvee’ Awards are unique as they are the only awards in Canada where the winning wines are chosen by the winemakers themselves. All proceeds from the Cuvee’ Gala and Awards Weekend go to the Niagara Community Foundation which supports community groups throughout the region. For a complete listing of this year’s winning wines, read More Here>>>
Niagara Region Cuisine
Local area restaurants participate in the weekend’s festiveness and offer special menus tailored to a day of wine tastings. For example, this past February, Hillebrand Winery Restaurant in Niagara-on-the-Lake celebrated the relationship between the region’s land, people, wines and food with a special menu showcasing local cuisine inspired by the bounty of Niagara’s local ingredients. Their winemaker paired the the 3-course lunch and dinner with wines grown from the same soil.
Another option for dining if you had participated in the Cuvee’ Weekend, would have been the Niagara College Teaching Winery where they served for lunch Lake Land Meats’ Venison with a Grand Veneur Sauce complimented by local handpicked Elder Berries. Dinner was a Five-course tasting menu with wine pairings priced at $65. For food and Wine lovers on a budget, this spells heaven.
Of course, No. 99 Estate Wine was also the official wine of Molson’s Canada Hockey House during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics. When Gretzky showed up to help host his wine tasting one afternoon at the next door Ontario House, there were “lines all the way out along the seawall” said an Ontario House representative.
Wayne Gretzky Foundation
Gretzky has winemaking in his blood. The story goes that when he was a kid, his grandfather — a Russian immigrant — used to make wine at home in Ontario. A portion of proceeds from the Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery is donated to the Wayne Gretzky foundation each year. No. 99’s Foundation is devoted to giving less fortunate youth the opportunity to play Hockey. He has raised over $1million so far for these efforts.