Q&A With Woody Cassell, Estate Manager at Hiller Creek Estates

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This is my fifth and final post for Terroir, which takes place on Saturday, May 3rd in the Crystal Palace in Toronto. There are buses from Toronto and Ottawa making the trip, so there’s no excuse for not seeing you there! There’s a complete listing of all of the Terroir posts written by Krista Lamb and myself at the bottom of this post.

I had a chance to ask Woody Cassell some questions about Hillier Creek Estates. Woody has been the Estate Manager there for 8 years, and as you’ll see, has a lot of responsibilities related to the day-day operation of the winery!

Shawn: What does an Estate Manager do? What all does your job as Estate Manager at Hillier Creek Estates entail?
Woody: As Estate Manager i am responsible for all day to day operations of the vineyard, tasting room, patio & gardens. Plus ensuring all equipment is operational and in good condition.

Shawn: What did you do or where did you work before HCE?
Woody: I was in the Military, 24 years as Medical Technician.

Shawn: What’s the best and worst thing about your job?
Woody: The best is the challenge of growing grapes in such a harsh environment. The worst is I spend too much off time enjoying HCE wines!

Shawn: PEC is known for their limestone, and associated minerality in the wines. What’s your take on this from HCE perspective?
Woody: I’m not a winemaker, but I do notice quite a difference between PEC wines and Niagara wines. Personally, I do prefer PEC wines.

Shawn: How are the vines looking after that brutally cold winter we just went through?
Woody: I’ve done lots of checks of the buds on both our vinifera and hybrid (Vidal) plants and because we bury the canes of the vinifera plants it appears to be no more damage than any other year. The Vidal that wasn’t buried will have approximately 50% production decrease.

Shawn: Viticulturally, what’s the worst thing you have had to deal with since starting at HCE?
Woody: Major crop loss due to a wet spring followed by high temperatures and high humidity.

Shawn: I find PEC wines go well with food – why do you think this is?
Woody: Possibly because the wines in general are less sweet, well structured with a bit more of an acid finish.

Shawn: What’s your favourite HCW wine & why?
Woody: My favourite wine at HCE would probably be our Barrel Aged Chardonnay. That being said, I do enjoy all of them.

Pizza Oven at Hillier Creek Estates

Pizza Oven at Hillier Creek Estates – Photo provided by the winery.

Shawn: What’s new or exciting this year at HCE? Any new wines?
Woody: This year we are releasing 4 new wines, we are in the process of upgrading the tasting room, added 2 new pizzas to our menu, and added winemaker and manager tours of our winery/vineyards.

Shawn: What should people try from HCE this Saturday at Terroir?
Woody: I encourage people to try all the wines. Every winemaker has their own style of making wine so all wines are different. Besides you may find a new and exciting wine that you truly love but not all our wines will be available at Terroir.

So there you have it. Another great reason to come out to Terroir, stick around the County for the weekend, and go discover all the wines that aren’t going to be on sample at Terroir!

Hillier Creek Estates

Hillier Creek Estates is located at 46 Stapleton Road, Hillier.
Hours: Daily 11-6 (May-October)
Phone: 613-399-5081

The complete list of Terroir Posts is here:

Devils Wishbone Winery

Keint-He Winery & Vineyards

The Grange of Prince Edward

Hubbs Creek Vineyard

Del-Gatto Estates

Broken Stone Winery

Harwood Estates

Three Dog Winery

Half Moon Bay Winery

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