Author: Carl’s Wine Club, www.carlswineclub.com
If you were to take Toronto’s Young St and go due South across Lake Ontario, you’ll come up the Niagara Escarpment and find yourself at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery.
Here are 5 reasons to visit this historic winery & taste some excellent Niagara wine!
Reason #5: The Unique Story
This winery sits on a 200 year old family estate in Jordan, ON, about 30 minutes from Niagara Falls.
Sue-Ann’s family arrived in Niagara in the late 1800s led by Robert Staff. The winery buildings were built as far back as 1884, and are still used daily.
Some of the first vines were planted over a hundred years ago – which is possibly the oldest commercial vineyard that has continuously operated in Canada.
Internationally acclaimed winemaker Sue-Ann Staff makes wines with vinifera like Riesling, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and hybrids like Vidal and Baco Noir.
“Every generation does something different on the farm to put their stamp on it. I figured we’re going to need a winery someday, and I’m going to be the one to build it,” says Sue-Ann Staff, who has won over 500 awards for her wines.
Reason #4: The Gorgeous Drive to the Niagara Escarpment
You’ll love the amazing scenery on the way to this winery, which many experts claim is the most biologically diverse region in Ontario.
The Niagara Escarpment has a steep elevation change, which traps warm air from the lake and provides an excellent micro-climate to grow grapes.
Not to mention, the terroir comes rich with glacial deposits over 450 million years in the making!
This very same Escarpment and elevation change gives us Niagara Falls.
You’ll find Sue-Ann Staff’s established vineyards wedged between Lake Ontario and Lake Eerie, with the Niagara River flanking on the East side.
Reason #3: The Riesling!
The Niagara Escarpment is known for excellent, classic Riesling with rich mouthfeel, bold minerality and bright acidity.
Robert’s Block is the oldest block of Riesling at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery – with current vines at 27 years old.
The roots of the vines literally hit bedrock at the base of the Niagara Escarpment.
You get flinty, wet stone notes that come from that contact with bedrock, and the rich complex flavours that can only come from established vines.
Check out a review of one of Sue-Ann’s Rieslings below!
2018 “Robert’s Block” Riesling
Niagara Peninsula VQA, Vinemount Ridge
100% Riesling | slightly Off-Dry wine (RS 8.1 g/ltr)
94pts Carl’s Wine Club
This is the best Riesling I have tasted this year so far, not even close: incredible depth with superb freshness and complexity. The wine opens up with aromas of chamomile and ripe lemon while getting a hint of pineapple. There is a spectacular minerality and the very high acidity counters the residual sugar to almost a bone-dry finish. Flavours of citrus and green apple are dominant but not to discount the ginger, honeycomb and stone fruit. The outstanding texture and never-ending finish are two features taking this wine to the next level. Serve chilled for freshness and cellar temperature for extreme complexity with a meal. I’m already looking forward to the next vintage…. WOW. 200 cases produced.
Pairings: beet salad, pork roast
Drink now until 2026
Winery price: $26.00
Reason #2: The Cab Franc!
While we have enjoyed every wine we’ve tasted from Sue-Ann Staff so far, her Cabernet Francs are right at the top of the list.
Here is one of our favourites to try…if they still have some when you visit!
2017 “Chestnut Tree” Cabernet Franc
Niagara Peninsula VQA
100% Cab Franc| Dry wine (RS 5.4 g/ltr)
91pts Carl’s Wine Club / 92pts Natalie Maclean
Bronze Medal, 92pts, 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards
Lovely garnet colour with deep red hues alludes to a well-made cool climate red. Aromatics reminiscent of a fresh black forest cake lift from the glass complete with kirsch cherry and dark chocolate curls. Spice and herbal notes intertwine throughout the aromatics. On the palate, dry, dark chocolate styled tannins wisp across the tongue with dried herbs, cedar, mocha and pencil shavings to add complexity. A dry, cedar box and herbal finish is very long and persistent. This is a serious wine with loads of complexity. 240 cases produced.
Pairings: red meats, a classic with lamb
Drink now until 2025
Winery price: $44.95
Reason #1: You can make a day (or several) out of it!
There’s nothing more relaxing than a day out in nature…but if you add in great wine and good friends, you have a winning combination!
Sue-Ann Staff offers daily wine flights, wine by the glass, and weekend charcuterie.
They’re also one of Niagara’s only fly-in wineries, in case you want to mark an extra special occasion.
Sue-Ann Staff is quick to point out that they have excellent neighbours, and she encourages you to visit them too!
Nearby you’ll find Flat Rock Cellars, Westcott Vineyards, Cave Springs Winery, and more great Ontario wineries.
Want to bring your dog on your winery discovery adventure? Dogs are welcome at Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery! Just be sure to check the Puppy Policy here before you go for some guidelines.
Years back, while tending my family farm, I had a revelation. I loved the farm life.
This is my Paris, My Australia, my South Africa, my freedom.
So, I dress the part and enjoy life through the rose coloured glass of the fancy farm girl.
The farm is a metaphor, the attire an approach. The reality? There is a fancy farm girl in all of us.
– Sue-Ann Staff
Carl’s Wine Club is a community of Canadian wine lovers, and each week we discover a different Canadian winery! You can join for FREE here.