Slow Food & Wine


Slow Food Canada logo

Back in February, #ONWineChat was luck enough to host Kari Macknight Dearborn (aka @Whitbyfoodie) and her husband Paul Dearborn (aka @Whitbywino) to talk about the Slow Food Movement, of which they are active members.

Kari Macknight Dearborn & Paul Dearborn at Norman Hardie winery in Prince Edward County.

Kari Macknight Dearborn & Paul Dearborn at Norman Hardie winery in Prince Edward County. (Photo provided by Kari Macknight Dearborn)

From the Slow Food Canada website:
Kari has been an active member of the Prince Edward County convivium for more than five years and serving on its board for three of those years.

A delegate to Terra Madre last year and a founding member and marketing director of the Prince Edward County Chapter of the Ontario Wine Society, Kari is a recognized local food and wine champion with skills in writing, advertising and organization.

I sent Kari questions ahead of the chat – below are the full answers. If you’re interested in the questions that came up on the chat, the entire #ONWineChat is captured here:
Q1: So tell us, what exactly is Slow Food?

It’s the antithesis of fast food in everything that it represents. You can think of it in terms of the interconnected principles of good, clean and fair.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment.

Q2: Does it extend to Slow Wine as well?

Absolutely. It’s about wine quality, typicity & adherence to terroir, value, environmental sensitivity & sustainable viticultural practices. It’s a bit different than here where we’re still figuring out what some of our traditions are as our industry is very young by comparison – but respect for the environment and sound viticultural practices… that part we can do now.

Q3: What drives folks like yourselves to get involved with the Slow Food Movement?

Because eating is a political and agricultural act, really. So is drinking – every time you choose an Ontario wine, for example, you are paying an Ontario winemaker and supporting their future.

When you care about your food and the community where you live, strengthening the growth of both simultaneously makes obvious sense. Connecting with producers, protecting biodiversity and preserving artisanal production, supporting the local economy and preparing the next generation of farmers and eaters – that’s why we do it.

Wine, food, education – it’s how we celebrate family, friendships and the future.

Q4: Where do Slow Food events take place?

Farms, wineries, restaurants, schools, conference centres, bingo halls, private homes – wherever like-minded people feel like getting together.

Q5: Are there lots of members from Ontario’s wine community involved with Slow Food?

Not a particularly large number, no. We have work to do here.

We know of a small few in the County, but many offer generous support to our events.

Q6: If yes to Q5, what is it about Slow Food that resonates with our winemakers?

I’m actually surprised more of them aren’t involved.

Q7: How does ON fit into the larger international slow food movement?

If you think about what Slow Food is all about – every place where there are food consumers has a part to play. We are fortunate to have such an amazing abundance of everything here – we could be world leaders in good, clean and fair if everyone played their part. When we create a market for slow food, slow food happens.

Q8: When and where are the regional events?

Those vary as each chapter is autonomous to organize their own events that make sense for them. In Ontario there are nine convivia. A convivium is what a Slow Food chapter is called.

Q9: Are there national and/or international events?

There is a national meeting that moves locations each year. It was in Tatamagouche, NS, last year and this year it’s taking place in Montreal, coinciding with a Terra Madre St-Laurent event that Slow Food Montreal is organizing.

Also, biennially in even years is Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy. It’s a HUGE event with people from every Slow Food nation represented.

In odd years, the Cheese event takes place in Bra, Italy and surrounding area – about an hour south of Turin.

Also biennially in odd years, Slow Fish takes place in Genoa, Italy.

Slow Wine holds several events per year, all over the place.

Q10: Which parts of the world have the strongest representation in Slow Food?

Without question – Italy.

Q11: Why do you think those from Q10 are so engrossed with Slow Food?

It’s where it all began and where there is a long tradition of preserving and protecting traditional foods. They cherish their regional delicacies and celebrate them – their gastronomic tradition is amazing. Even young Italian children understand its importance.

Q12: You recently were in Italy doing something with Slow Food – can you tell us more about it?

We attended Terra Madre/Salone del Gusto in October, as delegates from Canada. Imagine food, food producers, and education about that food from nearly every country on earth, all in one place for a week. Overwhelming. Incredible. It changed us on so many levels.

Q13: More recently you were in Montreal with Slow Food – what was that event about?

Slow Wine on Feb 4 was an event that brought together 35 Italian wine producers, from all regions. Events in New York, LA and San Francisco on this two-week four-city tour were larger events than Montreal.

Slow Wine critiques wine through the perspective of the Slow Food philosophy, believing that wine, just as with food, must be good, clean, and fair – not just good. Prominence is given to small-scale winemakers who are using traditional techniques, working with respect for the environment and terroir, and safeguarding the incredible biodiversity of grape varieties that are part of Italy’s heritage.

Q14: What’s next for Slow Food in Ontario?

Increasing awareness and promoting the very best of our regions and our collective heritage.

One of Kari’s particular passions with relation to Slow Food is the Ark of Taste:

There are nearly 2300 products that have been added to the Ark and are protected and promoted by Slow Food. Currently there are 25 from Canada – how many have you tried?

It might interest our #ONWineChat folks to know that Ice Cider from Cryoextraction is on the Ark of Taste since 2012. We helped sample this in Turin last year, along with a few other Ark products.

Here are some excellent links that talk about the organization and the passion of people involved with Slow Food.

Q15: Why do you think #ONWineChat’ers should get involved with slow food?

We think it’s important to know not only where you food is coming from, but who is producing it and how they view the future of their product. With the school programs, you educate the next generation of consumers to make better choices.

Q16: How does one get involved in the Slow Food movement?

Find the group closest to you here:

If there is no convivium in your area, info on starting one is here. From my perspective, Sudbury, Ottawa, Durham Region are very populated areas that are underrepresented in Slow Food, as is Niagara and LENS.

The email for the leader of each group is listed.

Attend their events and learn about how they’re making a difference, in schools, food banks, and in the community at large. Slow Food is even active in changing government policy on everything from animal welfare to school lunches.

Q17: Where can we find out more about Slow Food?

You can talk to someone in Slow Food (like one of us!), attend an event in your area, visit the Slow Food in Canada or Slow Food International websites.

Q18: Slow Food matters because____________?

Everyone should actively participate in where their food (and drink) comes from, from a biodiversity standpoint and from the view of protecting our environment and our control over the food system. We all have a role to play in creating the food system that serves us. Eating shouldn’t be a passive act and we shouldn’t let a handful of companies make these important choices for us.

Q19: What should be the one takeaway for us tonight about Slow Food?

That you should be active in choosing what’s offered up for you to eat and take action to make that choice every time you spend a food dollar. That even small changes like switching to a small-scale producer for your eggs, or your vegetables, can make a huge difference – and have a ripple effect in your local economy and community.

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Cuvée 2015 – A Weekend of Fine Wine & Food

I wasn’t supposed to attend Cuvée this year.

I had been booked in as a panel guest at a workshop for wine & beer industry folks in Ottawa for the Saturday of Cuvée weekend. As luck would have it, the workshop was cancelled. Even more luckily, I had been invited to attend Cuvée as a guest of Brock University CCOVI and Wine Country Ontario so I jumped at the chance to once again visit the Niagara region.

Cuvee 2015

Cuvee 2015

This was the first year that The Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) at Brock University has taken over as organizers of the event, and funds raised this year were directed to the CCOVI Institute: “Proceeds from the Cuvée wine weekend will go to support grape and wine scholarships and research initiatives at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).” (From Cuvée 2015 site). For the first year as organizers, I can attest that this was as well run as any Cuvée I have attended in the past, and indeed this year’s event seemed to have a great energy about it.

Great food & wine!

Great food & wine!

Having attended Cuvée events in previous years and not really getting a chance to sample the food, I made a plan this year to focus on the food first, then the wine. This meant that I wouldn’t get to try all 50+ wines on offer, and I wouldn’t get to talk to all the people I wanted to talk to, but missing the glorious foods provided by top restaurants was too much to miss. And this year, in addition to the fabulous local Niagara restaurants, three Toronto-area restaurants also attended. Here’s the complete list of food providers (as provided by Brock):

The Toronto culinary partners are:
· Centre for Wine and Food Experimentation featuring chef David Chrystian
· Crush Wine Bar featuring chef Trista Sheen
· Woods Restaurant featuring chef Carlos Deveyra

Niagara culinary partners include:
· Benchmark Restaurant and the Canadian Food and Wine Institute featuring chef Alex White
· Cave Spring Cellars – On the Twenty Restaurant featuring chef Frank Romano
· Dairy Farmers of Canada led by Gianna Ciancio
· Fallsview Casino Resort featuring chef Ray Taylor
· Le Clos Jordanne, Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin Wineries featuring estate chef Tim Mackiddie
· Oliv Restaurant at Strewn Winery featuring chef Rob Webster
· Peller Estates Restaurant featuring chef Jason Parsons
· Ravine Winery Restaurant featuring chef Ross Midgley
· Vineland Estates Restaurant featuring chef Justin Downes

Gourmet desserts will be presented by Criveller Cakes chefs Giovanni del Priore and Leonardo Priore, and Italian Ice Cream chef Andrew Vergalito.

More great food!

More great food!

This year they added a bit more time for media to taste before the doors opened to the general public. I spent most of this time sampling the whites on offer, but as always, I miss more than I taste. I loved hearing the stories from the winemakers about why they chose the wine – there was usually a personal connection that made the wines special. Although I didn’t plan it this way, many of the whites I ended up trying (and enjoying) were Chardonnays. Here’s the ones that stood out for me, in no particular order:

  • Southbrook 2013 Triomphe Chardonnay
  • Riverview Cellars 2013 Gewurztraminer
  • 2027 Cellars 2012 Wismer “Fox Croft Block” Chardonnay
  • Big Head Wines 2013 Chenin Blanc
  • Ravine Vineyard 2013 Chardonnay
  • Westcott Vineyards 2013 Estate Chardonnay
  • Flat Rock Cellars The Rusty Shed Chardonnay 2012

We then ducked into the announcements of the VQA Promoter awards and two other key awards for contribution to Ontario’s grape and wine industry:

Tony Aspler

Tony Aspler

Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence Award sponsored by BASF Canada Inc.: Niagara-on-the-Lake grape grower Don Forrer
The Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence: Laurie Macdonald, Executive Director of VQA Ontario
2015 VQA Promoter Lifetime Achievement Award: Len Pennachetti of Cave Spring Vineyards
2015 VQA Promoter Education Award: Evan Saviolidis, sommelier and wine educator
2015 VQA Promoter Hospitality Award: Darcy MacDonell, owner/operator of Farmhouse Tavern
2015 VQA Promoter LCBO Award: Ed Smith, Ontario wine leader customer service representative at the Ottawa-Orleans LCBO
2015 VQA Promoter Media Award: John Szabo, partner and principal critic at Wine Align
2015 VQA Promoter Promoter-at-Large Award: Kimberly Hundertmark, executive director of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival

More great wine & food

More great wine & food

When we returned to the floor, the doors were open and the food was being served, which meant the place was now hopping with people! We sampled many different foods and tried to select wines that were nearby to pair with the food. I stopped writing tasting notes at this point and just enjoyed the evening.

Memorable Red Tasted that Night included:

  • Vineland Estates 2012 Cabernet Franc Reserve
  • Lailey 2012 Impromptu
  • Cooper’s Hawk 2012 Reserve Cab Franc
  • Domaine Queylus Pinot Noir
  • Creekside 2011 Broken Press Syrah
  • Rennie Estate Winery G Assemblage (2012)
  • Rockway Vineyards 2012 Wild Ferment Red

Post the main event, Aprés Cuvée kicks into gear with a band, dancing, and sparkling wine, craft beer, and ice wine sampling stations. We somehow managed to close out this event, while sampling some interesting beer from NCT, Silversmiths, and

Complete List of wines available for tasting are documented within this pdf:

2015-088Cuvee Rackcardweb

It felt like the event had a refreshed vigour this year. It might have been for several reasons, but I’m convinced that making it a gala for the wine industry, by the wine industry, will keep the energy flowing for years to come.

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