Fizz Club, a networking group for Canadian sparkling winemakers, is trading in its usual classroom meeting spot at Brock University for the scenic views of the Italian countryside next week.
Thirty winemakers from four provinces will join Fizz Club organizer Belinda Kemp, a Senior Scientist in Oenology at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), on a five-day technical tour of Italian sparkling wine facilities beginning June 25. The tour will connect the Canadian winemakers with their highly regarded colleagues and sparkling wine scientists in Franciacorta, Trentino and Conegliano.
“We are often able to get Ontario winemakers together but to have winemakers from British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick join us is a great opportunity,” Kemp said. “Organized Fizz Club excursions like this give busy winemakers time and space to talk to each other and learn from their international colleagues.”
To plan the tour, Kemp has been working with Niagara winemakers Craig McDonald, Vice-President of Winemaking at Andrew Peller Limited, and Elisa Mazzi, Assistant Winemaker at Malivoire Wine.
Fizz Club was created at Brock five years ago to provide the technical foundation for the growth of Canada’s sparkling wine industry. The network has an annual meeting where the latest CCOVI research is presented and gives winemakers the opportunity to exchange practical advice on all stages of production.
“Our region is really collegial among winemakers,” McDonald said. “We need to maintain and nurture that and Fizz Club is the greatest platform we have not only within Ontario but also nationally to do that.
“We’re really happy and very fortunate to have a person of Belinda’s calibre involved in this. To not only have a winemaker with a PhD but to also have someone who really believes in the potential of the industry is exciting for the winemakers.”
This marks the second time that Fizz Club has gone abroad. In 2016, Kemp led 26 Ontario winemakers on a technical tour of France’s Champagne region, where they gained insights from top producers and consultants. Mazzi was on that tour and is excited to now be showcasing her home country of Italy to her Canadian colleagues.
“Champagne was a great opportunity for us to actually talk to winemakers, because when you just taste wine you don’t have an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes,” Mazzi said. “It’s important to understand their philosophy, see what their mentality is and what drove them to start their sparkling program.”
As the winemakers prepare for Italy, the quality of Canadian bubbly is garnering international attention. Earlier this month, two Ontario wineries received Platinum medals with a score of 97 points for their sparkling at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards.