I’ve wanted to visit Prince Edward County (PEC) for a while now and finally got the chance to visit this August. So many great places to write about, but what better place to start than my favourite find in the County: Karlo Estates.
Karlo Estates was founded in 2005 by Sherry Karlo with late husband Richard Karlo. Planting of the vineyard began in 2006 with blocks of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Frontenac Noir and they officially opened the doors of their beautiful two century old barn in 2010. Focusing on natural winemaking with little intervention, Karlo Estates is also the world’s first certified vegan winery.
Karlo makes wines from estate-grown fruit but also purchases grapes from other quality vineyards in PEC and sometimes Niagara for varietals that are not available in the County such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Verdot and Syrah.
Derek Barnett, widely regarded as one of the top winemakers in Canada, was appointed Winemaker at Karlo Estates in 2015, and along with Assistant Winemaker Spencer Mayer, has carried on the impressive legacy of Richard Karlo with some spectacular wines which I tasted on a very hot summer day in August.
My tasting was done at the counter by Brian, a very friendly and knowledgeable server who shared the history of Karlo Estates and told me about the wines I was about to taste including:
- 2016 Gewurztraminer, with nose and tastes of lychee and grapefruit, a nice surprise as I’m not usually a big fan of “Gew” but this one won me over
- 2015 Triumvirate, a full bodied and smooth Bordeaux style blend of cabernet sauvignon, cabernet franc and petit verdot — my favourite tasting of the day
- 2014 Van Alstine Red, a fortified wine (first in the County) made with estate Frontenac Noir and Merlot (and as I learned later, named among the Top Ten Cutting Edge Wines in the World)
All tastings came with a couple of bites of food to match with the wines, a really nice touch, and I ended up buying bottles of all three wines that I tasted.
Next time I’ll be sure to budget more time to soak up the atmosphere of one of their rustic tasting rooms, and order one of their food pairings, likely the plant-based cheese plate – right up my alley! I’ll also head up to the loft to check out some of the original artwork by Sherry Karlo which I missed on this visit.
Fortunately, we did take some time to walk through the grounds of the estate and am I ever glad we did. In addition to the gorgeous post and beam timber barn, the grounds are among the nicest in Prince Edward County. One feature you won’t want to miss is the unique dry-stone bridge over Hubbs Creek – the largest bridge of its type (no mortar) in North America. It’s definitely worth taking your time to enjoy the grounds.
All in all, Karlo Estates offers a friendly and fun tasting experience in a warm, inviting environment and of course, fantastic wines. I enjoyed my experience so much that I followed our visit up by joining the Karlo Estates Wine Club. Now I’ll receive two bottles every three months, just enough to tide me over until my next visit!
All photos by Adrian Berg