Fizz Club on tour: Canadian sparkling winemakers are England bound

Canadian winemakers will connect with their colleagues across the pond as Fizz Club goes abroad next week.

Thirty winemakers from four provinces will join club organizer Belinda Kemp, Senior Scientist in Oenology at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), on a five-day technical tour of English wineries beginning Monday, June 24.

“This is a great opportunity to build collaboration and co-operation between our Canadian winemaking provinces, but it also allows us to make friends and exchange ideas with international colleagues,” Kemp said of the tour, which will include wineries in Kent, Hampshire, East and West Sussex.

The trip will begin at the Wines of Great Britain (WineGB) Technical Conference, where Kemp will be an expert speaker. She will share some of her Brock research and talk about the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium, which the University is hosting next summer.

Winemaker Emma Rice, Chair of the WineGB Winemaking Group, said she’s excited to have international visitors from Canada at the conference.

“We are a young wine industry here in the U.K. and we face all the challenges that an emerging wine region inevitably comes across,” she said. “Canada’s wine industry, and in particular its sparkling winemakers, are more than a few steps ahead of us in terms of research and development, so we are looking forward to engaging with them to learn and share information. Collaboration is key to success in the wine world; we are stronger together than apart.”

Niagara winemaker Craig McDonald, Vice-President of Winemaking at Andrew Peller Limited, will be on the Fizz Club trip and will sit on an expert panel at the conference.

“It is great to see what the world is doing,” he said. “We know we do great sparkling wine here, but to go overseas and visit the great countries of sparkling wine is really the advantage of Fizz Club. We are bringing back all that expertise.”

Thirty Bench winemaker Emma Garner (BSc ’04) said the biggest benefit of the Fizz Club trips is “learning about how sparkling wine is made in other regions, while also developing a community of sparkling winemakers.”

“I don’t know a tremendous amount about English wines, so I am really interested to see what people are doing. They have a young sparkling industry, similar to ours, so it will be interesting to talk to the winemakers about the trials and tribulations they’re experiencing and how they are overcoming them.”

This marks the third time that Fizz Club has gone abroad. In 2016, Kemp led winemakers on a technical tour of France’s Champagne region, and last year they visited Italy.

Fizz Club was created at Brock six 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.

Kemp is also travelling to British Columbia next month to host a Fizz Club for the first time for winemakers there.

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