I realized recently that although I visit Di Profio Wines often, I have not written much about them on this blog. As part of my 30 days of blogging challenge I figured I should fix that. Last night we opened a delicious bottle of Kitchen Zinc, so it seemed appropriate to publish this today!
Article below was first published in the Savvy Selections newsletter in July, 2015. Savvy Company of Ottawa has both craft beer and wine clubs which offer monthly delivery of different products. I’ve been contributing some of the newsletters that go with the shipments of both beer and wine – there’s lots of great stuff in each newsletter including recipe pairings, etc. This is the background piece about the winery that was included.
I literally jumped at the chance to write about Di Profio wines when asked, as I have know proprietors Joe Di Profio and Carollynn Desjardins for almost four years now. My wife and I first stayed at their lovely B&B when the winery was just a set of plans, and they were temporarily making wine in a converted barn. Through the years I have learned a lot about their incredible journey from retired school officials to farmers and winery owners.
You’re Never Too Old
Joe and Carollynn met when they both worked with school board in North Bay. They retired years ago to winters in Mexico and were loving their life of warm weather and time on their boat, the “Mia Cara”.
Fate brought them back to Ontario and due to a health issue they ended up in the Niagara region. Once recovered, they decided that they wanted to stay in the area to be close to their son Fred.
They weren’t really looking to start a winery, but they had been thinking about a legacy they could leave for their children. They liked the idea of building something they could pass down to the generations.
When they saw and bought the 12 acre property that is now Di Profio Wines, the vineyard was in horrible shape, having been neglected for years. Consultants they hired at the time recommended that they just rip everything out and start over, but Joe thought that there was a lot of the vineyard worth saving. He was right.
Over the last 5 or so years they have built a new winery building, and added deck and porch areas, as well as a food service trailer. They’ve recovered what they could of the vineyard, and replanted what they couldn’t. They are now fully under vine and producing about 1500 cases of wine annually.
A B&B And a Winery?
The property (now renamed after their boat – the “Mia Cara” vineyards), included a large, fully finished house. While the vineyards had been neglected for years, the house was in great shape, if large for their needs. “What are we going to do with all this space?” asked Carollynn. She soon decided that they would open a Bed & Breakfast, despite never even having stayed in a B&B herself! Together they have created a unique guest experience where you literally are “Among the Vines”. In addition to working in the vineyards and the tasting room, Carollynn does double duty as B&B host!
A Family Affair
You may say that the Di Profio family, originally from Italy, has winemaking in their blood. Joe’s father Guiseppe Di Profio was the first Di Profio in Canada to make wine, back 60-70 years ago. Today, Di Profio uses his name on their very special appassimento style wine “Peppe’s Pride” which is only made in specific years.
The wine-making bug skipped a generation, but when Joe’s son Fred trained as a winemaker, it piqued Joe’s own interests in wine. Fred has his own winemaking company looking after a couple of different wineries, yet still finds time to tend to the winemaking duties at Di Profio. With Joe in the fields, Carollynn at the tasting bar, and Joe’s grandson Jack staying with them this summer, you’re sure to find one of the family members working in the winery or the fields if you stop in to visit.
What is it about Zinc?
Joe had visited wineries in Italy and noticed they all had zinc topped bars. In much the same way that they used to put zinc on barn roofs to stop moss or algae from growing, zinc provides an anti-microbial surface which makes for a great bar top! They sourced rolled zinc and found a local copper roofer who would work the material. Di Profio’s zinc-topped bar is now affectionately known as “The Zinc”.
With capacity for about 3000 cases, they see organic growth of the winery from the current 1500 cases through repeat customers (currently around 80%). With two harsh winters under their belt, they have a few planting changes to make to ensure longevity of the vineyard, and to provide the right varieties for the wines that sell the best. As an example, some areas where Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc don’t do as well will be replaced with Vidal (used in their “Teacher’s Pet” Special Select Late Harvest wine). Joe mentions that there are some abutting vineyards that might feed future grape needs. So much for retirement!
“The Kitchen Zinc” 2013
Tasting Notes: This wine has quickly become Di Profio’s most popular wine, and continues to sell more every year even with increasing production! This summer sipper is light and fresh on the palate. It offers a delicious nose of tropical fruit – namely gooseberry, passion fruit, kiwi, and sweet, ripe melon. Behind the tropical fruit are lighter citrus, fresh cut grass, and wet river stone notes. There is an initial hit of the sweet tropical fruit, and then a cleansing, tart lemon refreshes before the long grapefruit pith finish. $16.50
Gamay Rosé 2013
Tasting Notes: Beautiful bright pink colour. Strawberry and ripe raspberry notes on the nose reminiscent of Swedish berry candies. There is the slightest hint of herbaceousness akin to fresh-cut rhubarb and notes of sweet Honeydew melon as it warmed. The palate is slightly sweet strawberry fruit at first ,showing good weight without being sticky. This is followed with strawberry-rhubarb and red currant. There is a refreshing acidity which cleanses your palate but leaves a nice lingering finish. It is a wine that is both sweet and dry at the same time! $15.70 Note that the 2013 has sold out and they have released a slightly drier version from 2014.
Zinc-tastic Cabernet Merlot 2012
Tasting Notes: A deep rich ruby colour and a purple hue give hints as to the makeup of this wine. The aromas of dark and red fruit – plums, cassis, black cherry, red cherry come with light spice and mocha notes. There is the slightest smoky herbaceousness reminiscent of a tamed jalapeño pepper. Red cherry and red currant dominate the subdued leather and earthy components on the palate. There is decent acidity and slightly grippy tannins that indicate you could hold this for a few years, or pair with some juicy protein. $23.00