I mentioned earlier this year, that I wanted to write about some new things in my wine posts.
After a few years of touring around, getting my feet wet in the Niagara wine scene, it’s time to delve into my wine experience here a bit deeper. There are so many ways to do that, as there is always more to learn about wine and winemaking – the possibilities are endless. I want to learn more about the business of producing wine here. I want to hear the stories of the people involved in the process. I also want to learn exactly what it is that makes each of our wineries so unique and different.
That’s what I find the most fascinating. Each winery truly is different from the others, and has its own special personality and vibe.
I’ve decided that one of the ways I’m going to do these new wine posts is by doing an occasional spotlight that focuses on a particular winery. Not in terms of wine analysis, though I’m always happy to share what my personal favourites are. What I really want to do, is to get a feel for the experience at the winery. What is it like there? Is the experience warm and welcoming? Elegant? Relaxed? Upscale? Geared to wine scholars or newbies? What do they offer to people outside of a sample at the tasting bar and the opportunity to buy some fabulous Niagara wine?
The first winery I’m focusing on here for these types of posts, is Reif Estate Winery.
I’ve been to Reif for several occasions over the last few years. I’ve stopped in for their pairings during various winery passport programs. I’ve stocked up on some tasty red wines during their magnificent annual Red Sale. I’ve joined in the Mardi Gras festivities. I’ve had a relaxed lunch on a hot summer day in their Sensory Garden. So, because of all these visits, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what they have to offer. But over the last month I’ve been in for a couple of events that showed me I hadn’t seen it all yet.
The first was a visit for the Back Vintage Tasting.
The Back Vintage Tasting takes place in Reif’s beautiful Winemaker’s Loft. I was there on a rainy, gloomy day, and the atmosphere was cozy and elegant. I felt like I was sipping wine while a guest in a European manor.
When you arrive you are presented with a tasting menu, and you can choose exactly what you would like to sample.
After reading the menu, the 2012 Kiln Dried Syrah was at the top of my list.
So was the 2012 Meritage….
….and the 2007 First Growth Merlot
It was such a privilege to taste these gorgeous back vintages, and I’m still dreaming about the 2012 Kiln Dried Syrah, in particular. I couldn’t find a link to it on Reif’s website, so you’ll just have to go for a Back Vintage Tasting experience, and try it yourself.
That’s right. You can experience this special tasting too.
This event wasn’t just a one-time happening. Anyone can book this tasting on any Saturday between the hours of 11am to 4pm. Cost is $35 per person, and there’s a 25% discount on the tasting price for Reifstyle Gold members. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your spot.
Oh, wait – You might be wondering what a Reifstyle Gold membership is.
Reif has two levels of membership for their very popular wine club. The first level, which they call Reif for Life is free of charge. The second level is the Reifstyle Gold membership. This level costs $49.95 per month, and has a ton of benefits and perks attached to it – including two bottles of Reif wine delivered to your door every month.
When I moved to Niagara, I thought wine club membership didn’t make much sense to me. I didn’t think I would need regular home deliveries from my favourite wineries. After all, I live here now, so can easily pop round to the many wineries I love for a varied stock-up. But the thing I’m finding the most beneficial about wine clubs, is the additional bonuses you get. For me, the main perk would have to be the events. Some wine clubs hold special events for members only, or if they are open to the public as well, wine club members receive a discount on the ticket price.
I saw how much fun these wine club events could be when I attended Reif’s Cellar Tasting a few weeks ago.
I had so much fun at this, for lots of reasons.
First, of course, the wine. That goes without saying.
Second, the people. This was one fun, welcoming, passionately wine-loving group.
We started in the tank room, and Roberto Didomenico, their winemaker, welcomed us all. Then he took us a through a sampling of some of his whites, straight out of the tank.
Aside from the wine, one of the things I loved the most was watching my fellow tribe members all interacting with each other. It was as if I was in a room full of friends – the conversation kept bubbling, with everyone talking about the wine, comparing favourites, and toasting the new vintage.
When we finished in the tank room, we returned to the barrel room, where a generous spread of snacks was laid out for us to enjoy.
Roberto and Jennifer kept right on working while we munched, getting reds out of the barrels and into decanters.
While they did this, the lively buzz of conversation kept right on going. Honestly, if all their events are this much fun, then those wine club members have a good thing happening.
Roberto took us through a flight of reds, and all I can say is that I’m looking forward to their release.
The Cellar Tasting is an annual event, and is open to wine club members only.
There’s one more that I’ll mention here, which I’ve always eagerly anticipated at Reif – the annual White Sale in April, and the Red Sale in October.
Friends, both of these sales are incredible. If you haven’t been, you really must. It’s a great opportunity to stock up on some of your favourite wines, at prices that just can’t be beat.
So with visions of hot summer days, lazing with friends on the patio floating through my mind, I couldn’t wait to see what wines would be available at the White Sale.
And Reif did not disappoint.
Know what else?
The highest bottle price of what I bought was $14.95.
That’s not a typo, by the way. And my beloved Chardonnay was a steal, at special one-time price of $9.95.
Ken wishes all of my wine purchases could be like that.
You can see how surprised I was by the picture below.
Bring on summer, I say.
So, let’s finish up by returning to what I spoke about at the beginning – the experience at Reif. What can someone expect when they go there?
Well, the Reif family history involves almost four hundred years of wine production – dating all the way back to 1636 in Germany’s Rheinphalz region. With all of that experience running down the family line, you know you’ll be tasting some great wine. I think they have something to please every type of wine lover – all the way from the scholar to the newbie. My experiences there have been good ones, and the service has always been friendly, informative and helpful. I have to give a special thanks to George for all of his help many times.
What I absolutely love the most at Reif though, is how they encourage you to make wine an enjoyable part of your life. That resonates with me, and is something that everyone, at all stages of wine knowledge can appreciate.
But whatever stage you are at in your wine journey, I know you will find something to enjoy at Reif.
**Disclosure – I attended the Back Vintage and Cellar Tastings as a guest, but all opinions are completely my own.