There’s something so civilized about buying wine at your local farmers’ market. Here, six Ontario bottles to accompany your Thanksgiving feast
Getting your hands on special Niagara and Prince Edward County wines is easy. That’s because of a pilot project, which launched last spring, that treats farmers’ market stalls like extensions of winery tasting rooms. The numbers are impressive: from May 2014 to March 2015, Torontonians bought $1.5 million worth of wine at their local market stalls. And that number is set to spike this year, as more than 80 Ontario wineries rotate through 55 markets in the GTA (there’s a schedule and an interactive map of which wineries are appearing where online). The winery reps offer samples, recommend a bottle or two—perhaps to go with that Ridley Bronze heritage breed turkey from one stall over—and can take orders for cases to be shipped or picked up the following week. It’s a treat to buy a good bottle at your local park for that evening’s meal. Here are my top picks for GTA markets and wines worth exploring.
Evergreen Brick Works, Leaside
Stratus 2014 Riesling
$18.95 | 91 Points
This thriving weekend market
features member wineries of Somewhereness, a group of Ontario winemakers (including Tawse, Southbrook, Malivoire, Norman Hardie and Stratus) that produce site-specific estate wines. Stratus makes an Evergreen label, and the racy 2014 riesling—bursting with orchard fruits, citrus and typical petrol—is a superb deal.
St. Lawrence Farmers’ Market, Downtown
Southbrook Whimsy 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon
$34.95 | 90 points
The open-year-round granddaddy of Toronto farmers’ markets sells gems from Southbrook, Tawse and Rosehall Run. Southbrook’s 2012 biodynamically grown cabernet bristles with youthful tension, red fruit, herbs and subtle oak (it’s a departure from the plush Napa cab style). Decant for Thanksgiving dinner, or cellar for five years.
Sorauren Market, Roncesvalles
Rosewood 2012 Select Merlot
$22 | 88 Points
This Monday market just east of Roncey in Sorauren Park has an urban vibe (the Union Pearson Express rumbles nearby). Rosewood sells their lovely reds here, like this raspberryish merlot, with tea, herbs and a touch of mocha.
Appletree Market, Davisville
Château des Charmes 2014 Cuvée D’Andrée Rosé
$14.95 | 90 Points
June Rowlands Park is a leafy uptown idyll. Pilliterri and Château des Charmes pour tasters here, and the latter produces one of the great Ontario rosés. It’s dry and fragrant, with florals, plum-cherry fruit and herbs that evoke the south of France.
Tawse 2012 Cabernet Merlot
$20.95 | 89 points
What this parking lot off Lippincott lacks in character, it makes up for in bustle. Tawse sells their basic cab-merlot blend, which is balanced and savoury with raspberry fruit, herbs, vanilla and gentle wood smoke. It’s a beautiful expression of Ontario wine from a good vintage.
East Lynn Park, Woodbine
Coyote’s Run 2013
Rare Vintage Chardonnay
$24.95 | 89 Points
This is an oasis of greenery and family fun in a hollow just off the Danforth. 2013 was ideal for chardonnay, and the Coyote’s Run Rare Vintage is a lean, taut edition with smoky, nutty, pear-custard aromas and flavours.