Caroline Cellars Winery is a 36 acre vineyard started in 2000, and opened as a tasting room in 2002. The winery’s namesake (Rick Lakeit’s Mother) is memorialized in a portrait above a lovely stone fireplace in the tasting room. Luckily, the air conditioning was on for our 95+ degree day visit, but I could imagine it being quite cozy on a winter day.
The soils are primarily sandy loam, characteristic of the Niagara Lakeshore. The winery is producing a full selection of vinifera wines – whites and reds – and they carry a Baco Noir for my fellow baco fans. There is also quite a selection of fruit wines and ice wine available. The Lakeit family (Rick Lakeit, winemaker) is producing some excellent vintages, and Justine, the Retail Manager is a great face and tweeter for the winery. You can follow them on Twitter at @carolinecellars.
Highlights of the tasting:
Their 2008 Tanked is an unoaked chardonnay with melon, pineapple and mango notes. It boasts a full mouthfeel and crisp finish. A good stainless chardonnay at a $9.50 price point!
The 2009 Gewurtztraminer is a refreshing white with very little sugar – though you do get the honeysuckle and orange on both nose and palate. A good wine for Asian cuisine at $14.70.
Caroline also has a very unique Plum wine, and if you are a fan of sushi, but not saki, I’d recommend this to pair with a sushi feast. A surprise flavor for certain, but the winemaker balances it well, and $11.50 per bottle, its a great value.
The winery boasts a beautiful wrap around covered seating area, perfect for summer sipping, and their restaurant serves a wonderful lunch Friday-Sunday. We enjoyed a flatbread pizza and some awesome crab cakes.
The friendly staff also has a special connection with one of my favorite Virginia winemakers, Jordan Harris of Tarara Winery. Jordan is one among an increasing number of excellent winemakers from Niagara College in Ontario. Both Niagara College and Brock University have impressive oenology and viticulture programs, as proven when we met several graduates during our visits. I was also pleased to discover that a large number of those award winning winemaker graduates are women. Cheers to Girl Power in the vineyards!