Burning Kiln winery is nestled in the heart of Norfolk Country, Ontario’s garden. A former tobacco growing region, Norfolk County is now also home to a number of unique wineries who have repurposed their land in order to produce some of Ontario’s finest varietals. Like Prince Edward Country and Niagara wine country, Norfolk has a microclimate which helps create ideal conditions for grape growing.
Each Burning Kiln wine is named after a particular part of the former tobacco farming process including ‘Strip Room,’ which is the Official wine of the Ontario Legislature. Burning Kiln uses French vines and covers twenty-six stunning acres of land, growing eight different varietals: four white and four red. The winery has won sixty awards in the past 5 years using the Italian appassimento style of winemaking.
For those of you who prefer to drink your wine rather than study how it’s made (and who doesn’t?!), Appassimento means that ‘Grapes are harvested ripe at the end of the growing season. Grapes are left to ripen as long as possible in the vineyard to develop natural depth and character. They are then carefully placed on plastic crates and stacked 10 high in specialized rooms to dry, lasting from 5-10 days up to 2-6 months depending on their ripeness at harvest.’* This is where the former tobacco kilns come in.
‘Appassimento is so much bigger- the wines, the aromatics, the body, the concentration of the wine when you taste it…Everything is amplified,’ says the winemaker, his hands enunciating the intensity behind these words.
Part of what makes this wine unique is its winemaker, Luke. A Polish native, Luke trained as a fine art student at Ontario College of Art and Design before deciding that what he really wanted to do was blend art with soil: Cue winemaking, the perfect combination of both. After winemaking college, international winemaking experience and some time intensely studying the land, the vines, the viticulture and the viticulturists, Luke found a home at Burning Kiln where he remains.
For me, making wine is an art form,’ explains Luke. ‘To be an artist, you have to think in an abstract way but at the same time, it is very scientific. There is a lot of chemistry involved, biology…all kinds of things. It’s a very unique occupation.’
There is that word again (unique!) and it is so very relevant in this case. We tried several wines from the Burning Kiln line up and our favourite had to be 2011 Kiln Hanger, a VQA Cabernet Franc. It smells of coffee, dark chocolate, dried blueberries, roasted pepper and vanilla with a long and lingering finish that emphasizing the blueberries and mocha.
While I highly recommend heading down to this beautiful winery, stroll through the vineyards and enjoy dinner as the sun sets, you can also pick up <ahref=”http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo/search?searchTerm=burning+kiln” target=”_blank” data-mce-=””>Burning Kiln wines at the LCBO. They are a phenomenal representation of what Ontario can dowith wine.