Day 25: Q&A With Ontario Wine Supporters Paul Dearborn & Kari Macknight Dearborn

If you’ve been reading along for my #30daysofblogging, you can likely figure out by now how I first “met” Paul and Kari. Like others I’ve featured in this series, our common love of Ontario wine has resulted in our meeting in person, and becoming friends.

Paul and Kari have the Twitter handles @whitbywino and @whitbyfoodie (respectively), and their two handles say a lot about their interests in all things food and wine. Active in the PEC Ontario Wine Society chapter and the Slow Food Movement, Paul and Kari are really in tune with all things related to great food and wine.

OWS PEC Executive Paul & Kari, flanked by the @CellarSisters MJ (left) and Angie (Right)

OWS PEC Executive: Paul & Kari (middle), flanked by the @CellarSisters MJ (left) and Angie (Right) ~ photo courtesy of Jennifer Lindsay Hall

Q1: How and when did you first get interested in Ontario wine?
A1: Although we had tried Ontario wines previously, the event that really kickstarted our interest was the first time that Kari and I visited Prince Edward County in the Fall of 2005. Kari’s birthday is around Thanksgiving and, back then, The County’s “Taste” festival took place during that long weekend (instead of the last weekend in September). We stayed at a B&B near Milford, dined at the original Milford Bistro, spent time at Taste, and visited a few wineries over that cool weekend. At the time there may have been only 12 or 13 wineries. We could tell even then, however, that great things would be happening in PEC.

Q2: What do you find most interesting about the Ontario wine industry?
A2: Having visited a few other international wine regions we’re quite amazed at how little support our local wine industry receives in the retail sector (aka the LCBO) and in a large portion of Ontario’s restaurants. When we visited a place like Piedmont and saw that the restaurants and wine stores only offered wines from that region (with maybe a few wines from other Italian or European regions) it really opened our eyes.

Q3: Which Ontario wine regions have you visited?
A3: We have now visited all three of the major recognized appellations (after our recent trip to LENS in June). We have yet to visit some of the up-and-coming regions, such as the Ontario South Coast and around Georgian Bay, but they are definitely on our list.

Q4: Any favourite wineries? If so, what makes them your favourite?
A4: There are really too many favourites to pick just a few wineries – so many Ontario wineries do so many different varietals so well. Especially in the better vintages (such as 2004, 2007, 2010, and 2012) you can find decent and/or great wines from most of the province’s wineries. But some of our fave wineries to visit are always ones that are welcoming, that are consistently good, that are willing to spend extra time with us (either in the tasting room or down in the cellar), and that provide truly memorable experiences.

Q5: What do you see in the future for the Ontario wine industry?

A5: It’s so hard to say where things are heading for Ontario’s wine industry. What has happened during the recent winters has really shown how hard it is to successfully make wine in Canada. And, while climate change could prove beneficial to warm climate varietals (such as Malbec or Zinfandel) in Ontario, at the same time it could cause issues for the traditional cool climate varietals that Ontario wineries already do very well, like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Riesling.

Q6: If you had any advice to give Ontario wineries, what is it?
A6: We believe that narrowing the focus onto a few key varietals is what needs to happen in Ontario. At least four main ones (Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc) should make up the bulk of plantings. We certainly have no problems with wineries growing other varietals as well, but we think the Ontario wine industry will succeed best if it hangs its hat primarily on those four grapes.

Q7: What’s your social media channel (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, etc.) of choice?
A7: We both use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram quite a lot – it would be hard to say which one we use more. Secondary social media channels we use occasionally are Swarm (for checking in), Tumblr (for blogging), and Untappd (for when we need a break from wine and we check in our consumed beers).

Q8: What was the last bottle of Ontario wine you opened?
A8: The last bottle of Ontario wine we opened was a 2008 Merlot from Colchester Ridge Estate Winery. We opened it the other day with Kari’s mum to pair with BBQ beef tenderloin. CREW is a winery that we visited for the first time in June. It was then that we first sampled the Merlot and knew that we needed to buy some. Unfortunately, as we were on a wine tour and had already purchased a number of bottles from other LENS wineries, we only bought one. After re-tasting this delicious Merlot the other day, however, we certainly wish that we had picked up a few more.

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