Articles by author: klittle

  • 2017-18 Year in Review













    View the report on Issuu

    Categories: Annual Reports, What's happening at CCOVI

  • International Cool Climate Wine Symposium set to highlight Canada’s wine industry

    15 June 2018


    Momentum is building as Canada gets ready to welcome the world to Brock University for the 2020 International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS).

    From July 12 to 17, 2020, leading researchers, winemakers, grape growers, educators and media from around the world will gather at Brock for the 10th instalment of the symposium. This will mark the first time that the ICCWS, which takes place every four years, has come to Canada.

    Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is working alongside its research and industry partners to plan the event, which will focus on how climate change is driving innovation in the grape and wine industry.

    “This is an issue that impacts all cool climate wine regions,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “The ICCWS will give researchers from all areas of the grape and wine value chain the chance to showcase the latest research and discuss innovative practices that can help ensure the vitality of cool climate winemaking.”

    As 2020 approaches, conference organizers have launched a new website that will serve as the key source of information for delegates who plan on attending the conference. Although registration doesn’t open until next summer, interested individuals can use the website to sign-up for the ICCWS’ mailing list and learn more about Canada’s wine regions and conference programming.

    In addition to the conference sessions at Brock, delegates will also have the opportunity to participate in pre- and post-conference programming that will showcase Canada’s wine regions from coast-to-coast.

    Dan Paszkowski, Canadian Vintners Association President and Chief Executive Officer, said Canada’s wine and grape producers are eager to welcome international delegates to the country.

    “The ICCWS offers an exceptional opportunity to showcase the wines of Canada to the world, tell our cool climate wine story and share the true diversity of Canada’s award-winning terroirs as delegates taste wines from Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Quebec,” Paszkowski said.

    A unique feature of the conference will be the presentation of wines from The Great Chardo Swap. Organized by CCOVI oenologist Belinda Kemp, the swap will showcase terroir and winemaker ingenuity through Niagara Chardonnay to conference attendees. The activity has 12 winemakers using grapes from two well-established Niagara vineyards to craft one-of-a-kind Chardonnays, with six winemakers working with juice from each site.

    Other than using the same juice, closures and bottles, winemakers have free rein to craft their wines however they like. All of the wines will be part of a grand tasting at the ICCWS, with the winemakers discussing how the decisions they made during the winemaking process impacted the final wine.

    The initiative will also be featured at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration during its “School for Cool” Education Day on Friday, July 17, 2020. The Great Chardo Swap wines will be auctioned-off, with the proceeds donated to the Karl J. Kaiser Memorial Fund to establish scholarships for students studying oenology and viticulture at Brock University.

    Learn more at

    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • Fizz Club on tour: Canadian sparkling winemakers are Italy bound

    14 June 2018                                                                                                                          R00126

    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 caliber 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.

    Attached to this release is a photo that is free for media use. Caption: Winemakers Craig McDonald and Elisa Mazzi work with CCOVI’s Belinda Kemp (centre) to put the finishing touches on plans for Fizz Club’s trip to Italy.


    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • Brock wine researcher highlighted among international experts

    28 May 2018
    Brock University — Communications & Public Affairs

    A Brock University researcher is being lauded as one of 16 women who have made an indelible mark on the wine world.

    Belinda Kemp, a senior scientist in oenology at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), is highlighted in the latest edition of the LCBO’s Vintages magazine in a feature about wine industry innovators from around the world.

    “The women on this list are a group of forward-thinking industry trailblazers,” says Kemp. “To be named alongside them is truly an honour.”

    Kemp was praised for being at the forefront of research on aroma and flavour in sparkling and appassimento wines. In her role at CCOVI, she splits her time between researching priorities identified by the grape and wine industry and providing outreach and support to that community.

    With a winemaking passport that includes work on three continents, it was CCOVI’s international reputation and the allure of working on research that was relevant to the industry that brought Kemp to Brock in 2013. What kept her here was the collaborative culture of local winemakers.

    “Ontario winemakers are so open to research collaboration and new ideas, and are genuinely interested and understand the value of wine research,” Kemp says. “What really kept me in Canada was when I realized winemakers were changing aspects of their winemaking based on the results of our research.”

    Kemp’s laboratory dubbed ‘The Bubble Lab’ is recognized for its leading sparkling wine research and outreach work. In addition to her research on the topic, Kemp has organized Fizz Club since its founding in 2013. The networking group of sparkling winemakers is a closed-door session that allows those in the industry to discuss triumphs and challenges in sparkling winemaking and discuss the latest research advances. When Fizz Club was established, there were fewer than 40 wineries producing sparkling wine in Ontario. Five years later, the number of producers has ballooned to 90 and winemakers from four provinces have engaged with the group’s programming.

    CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis says Kemp’s work at the institute embodies the spirit of the institute’s commitment to industry-based research.

    “In her short time in Canada, Belinda made a lasting impact on the Ontario wine industry,” Inglis says. “Her sparkling wine research and outreach work has helped shape a growing segment of Ontario’s wine production.”

    Brock University oenologist Belinda Kemp examines one of her sparkling research wines.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Graduate research opportunity: Sparkling wine flavour

    If you are interested in pursuing oenology studies at the graduate level,CCOVI researchers Belinda Kemp and Gary Pickering are recruiting a fully funded PhD student.

    Click here to learn more about the opportunity

  • Top VQA wine promoters honoured at Experts Tasting

    Media Release: 3 May 2018, R00095

    More than 125 wine writers, educators and industry professionals gathered at Brock Wednesday, May 2 for the 29th annual Experts Tasting.

    Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the tasting promotes Ontario VQA wine and celebrates individuals who have made contributions to growing and promoting the grape and wine industry.

    The 2018 tasting focused on Cabernet Franc and examined the 2013 to 2016 vintages. Five flights showcased a total of 33 wines with industry experts guiding the attendees through the tasting.

    “The Experts Tasting has become a pivotal educational opportunity for guests to taste and learn alongside their peers in the industry,” said Barb Tatarnic, organizer of the event and Manager of Outreach and Continuing Education at CCOVI. “Cabernet Franc is considered one of the core varietals for this region and having the tasting showcase multiple vintages clearly showed what this variety can bring to the Ontario industry year after year.”

    The event also honours individuals who help raise the profile of Ontario wine with VQA Promoter Awards, which acknowledge individuals who celebrate, through promotion and/or education, the Ontario VQA wine industry with unselfish enthusiasm, constructive input and unsolicited promotion.

    The lifetime achievement award was presented posthumously to Ontario wine industry pioneer and winemaker Karl Kaiser by CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis.

    “There would be few in this room who would not recognize the pivotal contributions that Karl made to our VQA wine industry,” Inglis said. “From putting Canada on the map as a wine-producing nation to changing the landscape of agriculture in Niagara, he showed us what could be crafted with the grapes that we grow here. He helped drive this industry forward to be what it is today.”

    Kaiser’s daughters Andrea and Magdalena accepted the award on behalf of his family. Magdalena was also recognized for her own contributions to promoting and raising the profile of VQA wines in the promoter-at-large category, marking the first time a father and daughter have been recognized in the same year.

    When Brock grad Ivone de Marchi (BSc ’72) learned of the passing of his former lab partner Kaiser (BSc ’74) last fall, it struck a chord with him. He wanted to honour Kaiser with a portrait, and on Wednesday the painting was unveiled and then gifted to Brock to hang in Inniskillin Hall.

    CCOVI Viticulturist Jim Willwerth was recognized in the education category for the opportunities he provides grape growers and winemakers in support of Ontario VQA wines through his outreach and research work.

    The 2018 VQA Promoter Award winners in each category are:

    • Education: Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Scientist, Brock University
    • Hospitality: Sarah Scott, Manager of Dining Operations, Benchmark Restaurant
    • LCBO: Brittany Gregory, Product Consultant, LCBO Store #381, Kitchener
    • Media: André Proulx, Radio Producer and Wine Writer, Two Guys Talking Wine
    • Out-of-Ontario: Ian D’Agata, Wine Writer and Director of the International Wine Academy
    • Promoter-at-Large: Magdalena Kaiser, Director of Public Relations – Tourism and Marketing, Wine Marketing Association of Ontario
    • Retail: Tim Coons, Estate Manager, Trius Winery and Restaurant and Wayne Gretzky Estates
    • Lifetime Achievement: Awarded posthumously to Karl Kaiser, winemaker and wine industry pioneer

    2018 VQA Promoters award winners (from left): Tim Coons, retail; Andrea Kaiser on behalf of Karl Kaiser’s family, lifetime achievement; Jim Willwerth, education; Magdalena Kaiser, promoter-at-large; Brittany Gregory, LCBO; Sarah Scott, hospitality. Absent from the photo are André Proulx, media, and Ian D’Agata, out-of-Ontario promoter.

    Brock alumnus Ivone De Marchi presents CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis with the portrait he created to honour his former classmate Karl Kaiser, which will hang in Inniskillin Hall.

    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • Spring 2018 edition of the CCOVI News now available

    Click the image below to read the full newsletter and catch-up with everything that has been happening at CCOVI.


    Categories: What's happening at CCOVI

  • Inaugural Winemaker of Excellence awarded at packed Cuvée Grand Tasting

    Media Release: 26 March 2018, R00061

    The Cuvée Grand Tasting rang in a milestone 30th anniversary by bringing more than 800 guests together to celebrate excellence in the thriving Ontario wine industry.

    Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), a record crowd came to the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls on Friday, March 23 to sample from the largest selection of Ontario wines under one roof and taste unique culinary dishes from local chefs.

    “The strong turnout of guests from across Southern Ontario year-after-year truly showcases the importance of our grape and wine industry and the strong level of support it garners from our community,” said Cuvée manager Barb Tatarnic.

    The Grand Tasting also honors the talented people who work in the $4.4 billion Ontario grape and wine industry.

    The inaugural Winemaker of Excellence Award winner was Angelo Pavan, chosen in a unanimous decision for his major contributions to the industry, his commitment to excellence and his mentorship to winemakers across Canada.

    Pavan, Vice-President, Winemaker and Founding Partner at Cave Spring Cellars, is known for his encyclopedic understanding of viticulture in Niagara. He was among the first in the province to work with numerous grape varieties and was a pioneer in the quest to improve wine quality and sustainability in vinifera varieties.

    “It is humbling to be the first recipient of this great award,” said Pavan. “It validates the passion, time, effort and commitment of over 30 years dedicated to this great wine growing region and having participated in its evolution to international recognition.”

    Pavan is also a founding member and Chair of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Standards Development Committee and has played a key role in determining the most suitable winemaking practices applicable in Ontario. As the founding Chair of the International Riesling Experience, held in conjunction with CCOVI, Pavan has also been instrumental in solidifying Niagara’s place as one of the world’s pre-eminent Riesling producing regions.

    Teamwork and collaboration is also key to success, he stressed, adding “to be successful and to be acknowledged for your work, one needs to contribute to the industry at large and not just your own operation.”

    This year’s Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence Award went to Albrecht Seeger, an eighth-generation grape grower in Niagara-on-the-Lake and sitting member on the Ontario Grape and Wine Research Technical Committee. Sponsored by BASF Canada Inc., the award recognizes a grape grower who promotes excellence in vineyard practices.

    “BASF believes that we achieve excellence not just by using current practices to their fullest potential, but by looking for new innovations to continuously improve and evolve,” said Scott Hodgins, Crop Manager, Horticulture for BASF Canada Inc. “The Vineyard of Excellence Award provides the opportunity to celebrate others in the industry who do the same.”

    Alongside his wife Anja Bertelmann, Albrecht maintains a sprawling 150-acre vineyard of premium Vitis vinifera grape varieties and has made viticulture his life’s work. He is dedicated to being a grape grower in Ontario, which he calls “one of the best regions in the world to grow grapes.”

    CCOVI Senior Scientist Jim Willwerth said Seegar is “truly deserving of the Vineyard of Excellence Award.”

    “His vineyard is meticulously managed right down to the finest detail,” Willwerth said. “Albrecht strives to produce grapes of the highest quality destined for world class wine and this was demonstrated in every way throughout the evaluation process.”

    The Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence, presented to the individual or institution that best furthers the aims and aspirations of Ontario’s wine industry, was awarded to Sue-Ann Staff. She is a fifth-generation Niagara grape grower and internationally recognized winemaker who has won some of the most respected wine competitions in the world. Staff worked for several Niagara wineries before creating her own eponymous facility, and Tony Aspler said she has since become an “articulate ambassador for the Ontario wine region on the international stage.”

    Cuvée also celebrates the next generation of winemakers and grape growers by providing scholarships to Brock University Oenology and Viticulture students through the Cuvée Legacy Fund.

    The Cuvée Scholarship winners are:

    • Cuvée Hosting Award for Academic Excellence: Grant McKinnon
    • Cuvée Award for Academic Excellence: Nick Pappas
    • Cuvée Award for Academic Excellence in OEVC: Carol McLennan
    • Cuvée Graduate Scholarship: Andréanne HébertHaché

    “We are pleased to provide these funding opportunities and industry recognition for the very deserving students of Brock’s Oenology and Viticulture program,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “The Cuvée Grand Tasting is a full-circle celebration of excellence in our industry, honoring the best and brightest in the business today, and looking forward to those who will shape the industry in the future.”

    Donald Ziraldo, right, presents Angelo Pavan, Vice-President, Winemaker and Founding Partner at Cave Spring Cellars, with the inaugural Cuvée Winemaker of Excellence Award Friday, March 23 in Niagara Falls.

    More than 800 guests took part in the 30th anniversary edition of the Cuvée Grand Tasting Friday, March 23 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.

    Categories: Media releases