Located on the 42nd parallel, Essex-County wineries are the same distance from the equator as parts of Italy, France and the great wine regions of California. Our unique proximity to Lake Erie, exceptional soil conditions, longer sun hours and greater heat units than any other area in Canada contribute to the quality of the grapes. This being said, our region has been getting a lot of notoriety for its wines and that makes our local-supporting, Border City Living team of wine-lovers very happy.
You may have noticed lately that we’ve been partnering up with one of our favourite estate wineries, Cooper’s Hawk Vineyard – located in the countryside just east of Harrow. For a newer winery, they’ve been successfully experimenting with some award-winning flavours all while focusing on sustainability and minding their environmental impact. Even though I’m an a bonafide urban dweller, I spent the first decade of my life in the county, not far from where the Cooper’s Hawk winery is now. One of the things that draw me to their property (besides the great wine of course) is how owners Tom & Katy O’Brien and Debbie & Dave Meloche treat their 18 acres of vines as a farm first.
Owner Tom O’Brien, a retired accountant, took us on a tour through their grounds. It’s clear that they’ve been growing and running their multiple halls, patios, restaurant and tours since 2011 with thought and attention to detail. Their facility, a slight contrast to some of the more rowdy wineries of the region, is a bit more serene and contemplative. Less of a place for bachelor parties and more suited for smaller weddings and parties, catered to those who’d prefer to celebrate as close as possible to the vines as they can get. We’re suckers for the oversized windows and all the natural elements.
In addition to their special events, where guests can partner with them for an afternoon theatre performance, jazz festival or family day, their Tuscany-inspired tasting room is open year-round and seasonal restaurant, Vines, boasts local ingredients put together by their high caliber culinary team. Renowned designer, Helena Ventrella worked closely with one of our favourite up-and-coming designers, Kori Diotte, to coordinate the millwork and cabinetry from Joe Diotte Cabinetry Designs.
In their busy season Cooper’s Hawk staffs over 45 people from farmers to their head winemaker, Adam Graham. They encourage creativity, with their fruit forward varieties such as their top selling rosé (served with an after dinner chocolate treat), and their slightly sweet and creamy Pinot Grigio made with 20 year-old vines. You can find Cooper’s Hawk wines in your local LCBO and at Border City Living events. Visit their restaurant 7 days a week during high season and from Thursday-Sunday, (reduced hours January-April). Follow their social media for special events throughout the rest of the season.