In the mid 1990's, I began my fascination
with wine. It is a beverage from biblical times with the first
vineyards established by the Romans and some would argue that
the Gauls began wine making long before the Romans. There is
no beverage that offers so many flavors and aromas in a single
glass of fine wine. So much flavors with so few calories. No
other beverages compares.
My thirst for wine led me to the Niagara Peninsula
in Ontario where a thriving wine industry exists. On one of
our trips, we stopped at the overlook of the Niagara River
and gazed at the U.S. side of the border. I began to wonder,
at that time, why a wine industry, let alone a winery, does
not exist in Niagara County. I began to investigate climate
and soil conditions and determined that there was no reason
why wine, vinifera wine - the fine wines of the world, could
not be grown in Niagara county between the Niagara Escarpment
and Lake Ontario.
I have always loved to garden and a vineyard
is actually a large garden that needs to be kept in balance
and harmony. Soon I began reading books, magazines, subscribing
to industry newsletters and attending wine conferences. After
a year of convincing my wife of the endless possibilities that
exist in creating a winery, my search for an appropriate piece
of land to plant a vineyard began.
In January 2000, while still searching for
a suitable parcel of property, I attended a huge wine conference
in Buffalo - 400 participants and 100 vendors at the Adam's
Mark Hotel. At lunch, I sat at a table with nine other people.
The person next to me was an English gentlemen, Kevin Latter,
who is a vineyard manager at Cave Spring Cellars in Ontario.
Cave Spring is a successful winery with over 200 acres under
vine and produces 60,000 cases of fine wine per year. Kevin
and I "got on" very well and, with Cave Spring Cellars owner's
consent, he agreed to allow me to volunteer at the vineyard.
Finally, after so much study, I found myself on a snowy and
windy day in March 2000, pruning Chardonnay vines just below
the escarpment looking over Lake Ontario and barely seeing
Toronto because of the snow, Kevin said to me that it was terrible
out here and "you should call it a day." I responded "there
is no where else I would rather be." My fate was sealed. We
still enjoy a friendship with Kevin Latter and his wife, Barb.
After an eighteen month search for the proper
site for a vineyard, we finally found it. The house is made
out of stone and sits on 21 acres. The house was built before
the Civil War with the stone coming from the excavation of
the Erie Canal. Two barns sit on the property with one of them
being over 100 years old. It is this barn that we converted
into the tasting room. The property was an old fruit tree/concord
grape vineyard that belonged to the VanDusen family with us
being the first non family members to own the homestead.
The soil types on the property are Hudson
and Ovid. The property is approximately a half a mile from
the escarpment wall and 8 miles from Lake Ontario. Addionally,
the land sits on what is called a bench area. All of this translates
into an excellent location to grow vinifera-fine wine grapes
(see Region for more details).
We closed on the property August 31, 2000 and created the Limited
Liability Company of Eveningside Vineyards.
In the fall of 2000 we began to clear the
land and the vineyard was planted on May 16, 2001 with Chardonnay,
Riesling and Cabernet Franc. Please see Photos for some pictures
of the vineyard.
Many hours of rewarding work have been contributed
by my family and we continue to plan for the promising future
of Eveningside Vineyards.