• Expert Advisory: Look at the label when choosing wine this holiday season

    11 December 2018


    ‘Tis the season for gift giving, and if you’re looking to impress someone on your list, you may want to take a closer look at the label.

    Brock University research has shown that choosing a wine with a picture on the bottle or one with a difficult-to-pronounce name will likely make the recipient believe you spent more money.

    Antonia Mantonakis, an Associate Professor of Marketing in Brock University’s Goodman School of Business, studies how consumers perceive wines. She says wine labels can have a big impact on consumer choices.

    According to her research, consumers believe a wine is more expensive and better tasting when the winery has a complicated name. If the wine label has a picture on it, people are more likely to think the wine is award-winning.

    “It’s interesting how consumers perceive things,” Mantonakis said. “Something like the sound of a name can elicit a thought, and that thought can influence the perception of how something tastes.”

    Categories: Media releases

  • CCOVI in the news – 2019

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    Categories: In the news

  • The secret Fizz Club for Canada’s winemakers

    3 December 2018


    As wine lovers ponder which bottle of bubbly to pop this holiday season, winemakers from across Canada will be swapping secrets for making the best sparkling wine this week at Brock University.

    Eighty of Canada’s top sparkling winemakers will travel to Brock on Thursday Dec. 6 for the annual Fizz Club — a members-only gathering where winemakers compare notes, discuss triumphs and challenges relating to sparkling wine production and learn about new research developments.

    Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and led by senior scientist Belinda Kemp, this year’s Fizz Club will be the largest gathering to date with attendees from Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Nova Scotia.

    “When we started this, most of the winemakers who attended Fizz Club were based in Niagara,” said Kemp. “Now in its sixth year, we have winemakers coming from all across Canada, including more than 20 wineries from Quebec.”

    As Fizz Club grows in popularity, so do Fizz-loving consumers. More than 90 local wineries are now producing sparkling wines and sales are surging with overall sales of VQA sparkling up 13 percent year-over-year.

    Kemp will share the latest research CCOVI is doing to help local grape growers and winemakers produce quality sparkling wine, including new results from studies regarding how different soil types affect sparkling wine flavour, mouthfeel and texture.

    Excitement continues to build around Canadian sparkling wine as last week CCOVI hosted the world’s largest Canadian sparkling wine tasting, with 135 bottles from four provinces. More information on the historic tasting can be found here.

    Categories: Media releases

  • CCOVI hosts world’s largest tasting of Canadian sparkling wine

    30 November 2018


    More than 130 bottles of sparkling wine from four provinces were popped at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) this week, in the world’s largest tasting of Canadian sparkling wine.

    Tom Stevenson, regarded as one of the world’s leading sparkling wine experts, travelled to Brock from the United Kingdom to taste sparkling wines from Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Nova Scotia.

    “I am really pleased because there are a lot of really good sparkling wines here,” said Stevenson. “After the first flight I found a few potential gold and silver wines.”

    Stevenson has been tasting top sparkling wines blind in the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), which he founded and is the head judge for. He said Canada is a strong contender and hopes some of the producers he earmarked will be encouraged to participate in the global competition.

    “It would increase the profile of Canadian sparkling wine. We haven’t typically had many entries from Canada in the past to really see what these producers have available from a competition perspective,” Stevenson said.

    Over a number of hours, he tasted the wines alongside wine writer and judge Treve Ring, who said the top wines stood out in the tasting room when it came to balance, complexity and depth.

    “I think the top wineries in Canada are making sparkling wines that can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the top wineries around the world,” Ring said. “It was fantastic to see such diversity of wines and styles, everything from ancient method through to traditional method sparkling wine that has been aged for years.”

    The tasting was organized and hosted by CCOVI Senior Scientist Belinda Kemp. Her lab, dubbed ‘The Bubble Lab,’ is recognized for its leading sparkling wine research and outreach work, helping grape growers and winemakers produce quality sparkling wines through initiatives such as Fizz Club — a networking group for Canadian sparkling winemakers.

    “I’m so pleased we were able to showcase wines from so many wineries, especially with our annual Fizz Club taking place next week,” said Kemp. “It is quite incredible to watch the progress of Canadian sparkling wines as we raise awareness of production techniques and tackle challenges with CCOVI research. This is just the beginning for Canadian sparkling wine.”

    Tom Stevenson, right, and Treve Ring, left, visited CCOVI this week for the world’s largest Canadian Sparkling wine tasting with CCOVI Senior Scientist Belinda Kemp, centre.

    More than 130 bottles of sparkling wines from across Canada were part of a tasting at Brock University’s CCOVI.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Wine industry giants, Brock U research builders Ziraldo and Kaiser cited with elite award

    26 November 2018


    Canadian winery icons Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser, who revolutionized an industry and then helped create Brock University’s renowned grape and wine research centre CCOVI, have been honoured with the first Lifetime Achievement Award ever presented by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

    The partners were feted as “the pioneers of Ontario’s wine renaissance” at a gala at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, where Ziraldo was joined by Andrea Kaiser, who accepted on behalf of her late father. The award was sponsored by Brock University.

    In 1975, Ziraldo and Kaiser obtained a licence for a new winery they called Inniskillin. Ontario wines were typically sweet and syrupy, due to the region’s hardy labrusca vines that could survive Canadian winters. But Ziraldo and Kaiser believed European vitis vinifera vines could produce world-class wines and also cope with the local climate.

    They soon began winning major international awards, including the Grand prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France. Inniskillin went from cottage winery to global success, and the reputation of Canadian wines went viral.

    Since then, Niagara has become carpeted with vineyards and known as ‘Napa North,’ a destination for connoisseurs and wine tourists alike. When Inniskillin received its licence, the first to be issued in half a century, there were only six other wineries in Ontario. Today there are nearly 200, and grape and wine is a $9-billion national industry that contributes to thousands of jobs.

    While sales flourished, however, the industry lacked the research support and regional science that is crucial to keeping an area’s vines healthy and its quality high.

    By 1996, a group of winemakers, grape growers and Brock scientists met regularly to identify the needs of the rapidly expanding industry. The group included Bill Cade, then Brock’s Dean of Mathematics and Science, who brought in industry leaders like Ziraldo, Kaiser, Paul Bosc, John Howard and others.

    Wine writer Linda Bramble recalled the energy: “I remember Donald (Ziraldo) repeating, ‘Every significant wine region in the world has a research institute associated with it. We need this, too!’”

    Before the year was out, Brock launched its Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), which has been a working partner of the industry ever since. Two years later, CCOVI would move into its new home, named Inniskillin Hall in honour of a generous gift from Ziraldo and Kaiser.

    At the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, Ziraldo praised his longtime partner.

    “Karl’s genius with Icewine created an opportunity to build a global luxury brand,” Ziraldo said. “I deeply appreciate the recognition by the Chamber, and encourage young vintners to continue our quest for greatness.”

    Andrea Kaiser recounted how her father very nearly did not become a vintner. After emigrating from Austria in the late 1960s, he found his education credentials were not recognized in Canada. However, his plans to go back to school and become a teacher changed after a chance meeting with Ziraldo.

    “But even in winemaking, he remained a teacher, always eager to share his winemaking techniques,” she said. “He was so honoured to be invited back to Brock to teach at CCOVI as it combined his two passions in life, wine and learning.”

    Brock President Fearon said the vision and innovation shown by Ziraldo and Kaiser will continue to inspire generations of entrepreneurs and leaders.

    “It is hard to think of two individuals whose vision and commitment to quality and excellence better exemplifies dramatic growth in the competitiveness and vitality of the Ontario industry landscape,” Fearon said. “I am proud to say that Brock, through CCOVI, was a partner in these developments reflecting our commitment to supporting transformative regional community and economic growth.”

    Comerford saluted the pair’s legacy to research and education.

    “I am very proud that for more than 20 years, Donald and Karl have been instrumental in helping to create at Brock, what has become Canada’s leading grape and wine research centre,” he said.

    Ontario Chamber of Commerce President Rocco Rossi said Ziraldo and Kaiser were a perfect choice as the first-ever recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    “Their determination to create the highest quality wines not only transformed the Canadian wine industry but demonstrates the innovation, entrepreneurship and hard work of the businesses built in our own back yard,” said Rossi.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock research vineyards to tackle climate change challenges

    6 November 2018


    With the help of two new research vineyards, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is looking to aid Canada’s grape growers and wineries.

    CCOVI partnered with two commercial grape growers to plant the St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyards that will be used for a clone and rootstock evaluation program of the main VQA grapevine varieties in Ontario.

    Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Senior Scientist, said the program takes a proactive approach that will help the industry grow and adapt to challenges expected with climate change.

    “We are looking at cold hardiness, fruit composition, wine quality and general vine performance, so that the industry knows the best combinations to use for our core grape varieties,” said Willwerth.

    Planting and management of the research vineyards was funded through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Collaborative Research and Development grant program in partnership with Ontario Grape and Wine Research Inc.

    The certified grapevines were planted in June in collaboration with Huebel Grapes Estates and the support of grape growers Bill Schenck and Erwin Wiens, who are each allowing the use of two acres of their land. More vines will be planted in 2019.

    “This is an example of an industry and university research program that is ultimately looking to help the sustainability of the Ontario and Canadian grape and wine industry,” said Willwerth. “I think this is proof of how CCOVI’s industry partnerships really shine and how we work together to achieve a common goal.”

    One vineyard was planted on a heavier clay soil and the other on a sandy soil to represent different vineyard conditions found in Ontario. There are different varieties of vines in each with multiple clone and rootstock combinations.

    “The research we do at CCOVI is driven by the industry, and the industry, at this time, is interested in evaluating clean plant material and looking at what combinations do the best under our conditions,” Willwerth said.

    Schenck, one of the commercial vineyard owners, has been working with CCOVI on research projects for the past 15 years.

    “It gives me first-hand knowledge on what will work on my property,” said Schenck. “I am pretty excited for opportunities to see what I can do better. We have seen over the years with different rootstocks that vines grow differently. So if I look to replant or plant new vineyards, it’s always better to have the knowledge available.”

    Schenck said he is happy to help support the industry by donating his land and time for the clone and rootstock evaluation program.

    “I think the growers in this area are very lucky that CCOVI has taken up the challenge of trying to do what is best for the industry,” he said.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Graduate research opportunity

    MSc/PhD: Yeast, acids and “sweet/honey” off- flavours, in Pinot noir sparkling and still red wines.

    Project Description

    Location: Brock University, St Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
    Supervisors: Dr Belinda Kemp, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Brock University.

    I am looking for an enthusiastic student for a funded position at the MSc level with the ability to transfer into the PhD program. A PhD student who has achieved an MSc and wishes to progress to a PhD student is also welcome.

    The studentship will investigate off-flavours associated with compounds originating from grape infection, and their influence on the resultant wine during aging. The research will include analysis in aroma compounds by HS-SPME-GC-MS, capillary electrophoresis (CE), standard wine chemical analysis, advanced wine sensory analysis and winemaking. The candidate will gain skills in these areas, as well as teaching experience, statistical analysis, a range of analytical software, data interpretation and wine production within Brock’s renowned Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute.

    Eligibility and desirable experience:
    ● Applicants should hold a BSc degree in Viticulture and Oenology, Food Science, or analytical chemistry. Applicants who have a BSc in these disciplines at the First Class level can enrol for an MSc, and upon successful completion of their first year can apply to convert to the PhD stream. A strong academic background in biological sciences is also desirable.
    ● Experience with advanced laboratory beverage analysis is vital along with an interest in sparkling wine, red wine and flavour chemistry.
    Funding Details: This position is fully funded by CAP AAFC GF3, which covers a student stipend. Funds for conference travel are also available. Applications will be assessed as they arrive.

    How to apply: Please contact Dr Belinda Kemp for further information and send your CV, cover letter, personal statement and contact details for two references to

    Categories: What's happening at CCOVI

  • Cuvée Grand Tasting to celebrate Ontario VQA wine for 31st year

    16 October 2018


    Mark your calendars for one of the most sought-after wine events. The annual Cuvée Grand Tasting has been set for Saturday, March 23, 2019.

    The event will be held at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls and is the largest celebration of VQA wine of its kind, featuring more than 100 wine selections from Ontario’s top winemakers.

    Online tickets are now available and wine and food enthusiasts can take advantage of early-bird prices.

    This marks the fifth year that Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) has taken the lead in organizing Cuvée, a weekend-long celebration of Ontario VQA wine and local cuisine from chefs from across the region.

    “Not only does Cuvée showcase the finest VQA wines to consumers, it supports the growth of the grape and wine industry by funding valuable research and student scholarships,” says CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis, adding that more than $122,000 has been generated for the Cuvée Legacy Fund over the past four years.

    Cuvée 2019 will see the return of the popular “Winemakers’ Favourite Wines” feature, along with gourmet food delicacies prepared by celebrated chefs at live cooking stations, and an Après Cuvée party with live music and selections from micro-breweries, cideries and VQA wineries.

    Cuvée Manager Barb Tatarnic said the 2018 event drew a record crowd to the Grand Tasting event, with nearly 900 guests in attendance.

    “It really is a unique experience because those aren’t just any wines, they are the selections of the winemakers themselves,” said Tatarnic. “We’re thrilled with Cuvée’s success and the positive feedback we’ve received from our guests.”

    During the weekend-long event, the Cuvée en Route passport program allows ticket holders access to exclusive tasting flights at more than 30 Niagara wineries from March 22 to 24. Passports are included with the Grand Tasting or can also be purchased individually for $30.

    For more information or to purchase tickets to the Cuvée Grand Tasting or en Route passports, visit

    Categories: Media releases

  • 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