A brand new fizz: CCOVI club bubbles with ideas, research

Sparkling winemakers from across the country came together at Brock University last week to discuss accomplishments and innovations in the industry.

Hosted by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the annual meeting of Fizz Club — the only event of its kind in Canada — took place on campus Jan. 18.

“With this year’s theme, ‘A Brand New Fizz,’ we wanted to recognize the hard work of CCOVI’s former Oenologist Belinda Kemp in establishing and developing Fizz Club into a national organization,” said Barb Tatarnic, CCOVI’s Manager of Professional Studies and Outreach. “We also wanted to ensure we carry forward established traditions and cultivate new ones to grow with a constantly evolving market.”

Tatarnic said CCOVI was “thrilled to welcome participants from across Canada, continuing to build upon the proud traditions of education and knowledge transfer to those in the cellars making these sparkling wines.”

“To this end, we have established a steering group to help ensure we are meeting the needs of the sparkling winemaking community moving forward,” she said.

A man pours a sample of sparkling wine while smiling and laughing. Seated next to him is a colleague, who is laughing along.

Mitchell McCurdy, Winemaker, Marynissen; and Zack Everett, Winemaker, Magnetic Hill participate in the annual meeting of Fizz Club, hosted by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute.

Endorsed by the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA), Fizz Club provides a collegial and safe space for learning and sharing between sparkling winemakers. It supports CCOVI’s mission to mobilize knowledge, engage with the community and promote industry research.

This year’s daylong event featured:

  • A literature review of recent global scientific publications pertaining to sparkling wines, led by CCOVI Scientist Jennifer Kelly.
  • A tasting and discussion of non-traditional sparkling wines, led by Sparkling Winemaker René Van Ede, of Foreign Affair Winery.
  • A discussion of sparkling wine sales and trends, led by Paul Ferrell, Senior Category Manager of the LCBO.
  • Research and development of malolactic fermentation, sensory tasting and evaluation of experimental trials created by panellists Van Ede, Elisa Mazzi of Malivoire, Jessica Otting of Tawse, Dean Stoyka of Stratus and Jeff Moote of Divergence.

“I cannot think of another place where winemakers have a forum to speak so openly and honestly about the awesomeness and challenges of running a sparkling wine program,” said Ilya Senchuk, Head Winemaker and Co-Founder of Leaning Post Wines. “The entire industry is rapidly evolving, and we are witness to a proliferation of styles of sparkling wine. This summit is the perfect place to incubate, grow and test ideas that launch each of us beyond the traditional manufacturing methods, and truly add value and innovation to this industry.”

Kelly called it “an honour” to participate in this year’s event.

“The national cadre of winemakers enriched our event, and tasting the wines provided by Fizz members was incredible,” she said. “We were lucky to taste a range of wines, representing many stylistic considerations that made each wine so special.

“I want to acknowledge and thank the Fizz steering committee for their support and enthusiasm for this initiative,” she said. “Collectively, there was a desire to work towards a goal of sharing data for research purposes, and I believe what we presented to the wider group was of high value to the industry. The positive atmosphere and camaraderie between winemakers speak to their generosity, creativity and passion to continually elevate what is possible with premium sparkling wines being made right here in Canada.”

Attendance at Fizz Club — which began in 2013 and went national in 2016 — continues to be limited to sparkling winemakers, as well as winemakers considering a sparkling wine program.

The next summit will be held in December, and will be in-person only to ensure the integrity of these closed sessions. Sparkling winemaker interested in being added to the Fizz Club membership list can email ccovi@brocku.ca

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