Fizz Club: Making Canadian bubblies bright

It’s the most sparkling time of the year.

As consumers prepare to toast the holiday season, winemakers from across Canada will meet at Brock University for the first gathering of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute’s (CCOVI) Fizz Club since 2019.

The outreach program, introduced in 2013 by CCOVI Principal Scientist Belinda Kemp, began as a networking opportunity for Ontario sparkling winemakers to openly discuss sparkling wine production methods, issues and the latest research.

Since its inception, Fizz Club has evolved to include winemakers from B.C., Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Quebec. Thanks to the technical foundation provided by Fizz Club, Canadian sparkling wine production has grown in terms of both scale and quality. In Ontario alone, sparkling wine production has doubled in the past 10 years.

To date, there are more than 250 wineries across the country crafting both Traditional and Charmat Method sparkling.

As Fizz Club approaches its 10th anniversary, the team at CCOVI is reflecting on just how far Canadian sparkling wine has progressed.

A bottle of Brights President Canadian Champagne with some wear on the label.

Maureen Nesbitt donated a 64-year-old bottle of Brights President Canadian Champagne to the Canadian Wine Library at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute.

“It has been incredible to watch the evolution of Canadian sparkling wines as we raise awareness of production techniques and tackle challenges with CCOVI research,” said Kemp. “Fizz Club is invaluable not only for winemakers but also CCOVI affiliates, as the discussions also help to inform where we take our research next.”

For Barb Tatarnic, CCOVI’s Manager of Continuing Education and Outreach, the progression is that much more apparent due to a recent addition to the Canadian Wine Library at Brock.

The 64-year-old bottle of Brights President Canadian Champagne comes from Maureen Nisbet, who acquired the wine from a friend whose mother had received the wine as a gift for her 20th birthday in 1959. Rather than let the wine be thrown away, Nisbet promised to help find it a home as she understood the history behind the bottle.

Brights Wines, established in 1874, began experimenting with planting Vitis vinifera vines in 1933 and after many years of trial and error produced Canada’s first vinifera wine in 1955.

“It’s exciting to note that after being unable to come together for the past two years, Fizz Club will experience its eighth gathering of sparkling winemakers this year. A major achievement and if proof can be found in award-winning Canadian sparkling wines, then we’re clearly at a very exciting time,” said Tatarnic. “The fact that Maureen has shared this special bottle of sparkling wine with us helps to define the full sparkling story in Ontario and how far this industry has come.”

For additional information on Fizz Club and other CCOVI outreach services, visit the Institute’s website.

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