Niagara-on-the-Lake has cultivated a reputation as being a region prime for viticulture, both in the quality of the soil and the experienced winemaking families that settled in Ontario over the past centuries, fresh from prestigious European estates and winemaking grounds.
Marynissen Estates has a story in line with this tradition. The estate was founded by John Marynissen, who migrated to Canada from Holland with his wife in the 1950s. Viticulture was still in its infancy in southern Canada at the time, and these days John is seen as a pioneer. He was the first winemaker to plant vinifera grapes, when the general consensus was these sensitive grapes couldn’t thrive in Ontario. Of course, the vinifera survived and Marynissen Estates was the first Niagara vineyard to make cabernet sauvignon, in 1978.
The estate has worked with a variety of grapes over the years, and currently produced a range of whites, reds and icewines. The whites have the most variety, from chardonnays (both oaked and unoaked), Rieslings and an award-winning Gewurztraminer. The reds have a smaller range, but they are the wines the estates is known best for, with platinum-range cabernet sauvignons, syrahs and the ‘Bottoms Up’ blend that balances several red grape varieties. The wines are available through their website and on-site.
The winery itself, located halfway between Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake, is not far from the Niagara Parkway. The estate is open seven days a week from 10am until 6pm.
It’s a small and rustic estate, mixing old-world techniques with some modern flair, combined with current winemaker Gordon Robert’s experience working with similar soil in Australia and New Zealand.
It’s a smaller operation when compared to the larger and more modern estates that claim other tracts of northern Niagara, but the pedigree of the area and the estate speaks for itself, especially in solid red wine vintages. Seek out Marynissen Estate to get acquainted with an important player in Niagara’s winemaking culture.
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