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  • Writer's pictureStuart Ray

Vintner’s Cellar Cochrane May 2023 Newsletter

Amateur Winemakers of Canada – Alberta Chapter Competition

The Results are in …

Since opening Vintner’s Cellar in Cochrane, there had not been any provincial winemaking competitions held due to the Covid pandemic, until this year. Here at the Cellar, Stuart has been making some great tasting wine and he thought that he should enter this year’s Amateur Winemakers of Canada – Alberta Chapter competition. Eight wines were selected from the cellar with the majority being Vintner’s Cellar brand kits. Here is how we made out:

1. Best of Show in the White Wine Category was our Vintner’s Cellar Chilean Chardonnay

2. Silver Medal for a Vintner’s Cellar Trebbiano

3. Silver Medal for a Vintner’s Cellar Old Vine Merlot, barrel aged. We finished 0.25 of a point back of the winner of this category who went on to win the Best of Overall Show.

4. Bronze Medal for a Rose, Vintner’s Cellar Chilean Trio with a touch of red wine to give it a lovely rose color.

5. Bronze Medal for a Vintner’s Cellar Pinot Noir.

6. Bronze Medal for a Dessert wine, Vintner’s Cellar Cab/Shiraz blend with chocolate/cherry liquor fortification.

7. Bronze Medal for a Sparkling Vintner’s Cellar Chardonnay.

In recognition for the above accomplishments Stuart was also awarded with the

“Alberta Wine Maker of the Year” Award. This award is presented to the best overall wine maker in that year’s competition.

Stuart said “I am extremely pleased with this year’s results! When you have great grape juice to work with you can create amazing wines and our juices are some of the best. I feel very honored to have been recognized as Alberta’s Wine Maker of the Year for 2023.”

Michael Eccles, President of Vintner’s Cellar Franchising Inc provided the following comment: “This is an outstanding accomplishment. Congratulations to both Suzanne & Stuart for their hard work and commitment to the product. Their dedication to the systems and processes along with the Vintner’s Cellar’s exclusive premium product line have resulted in award winning wines. Well done, you are notable ambassadors of the brand.”

The Amateur Winemakers of Canada (AWC), founded in 1971, is a national coordinating body for provincial amateur winemaking organizations. Its purpose is to promote the hobby of winemaking, and to increase the knowledge and skills of its individual members in making and evaluating wines and other fermented beverages. The principal activity of the AWC is a National Competition for amateur winemakers affiliated with its Provincial Member Organizations, held each summer.

Trivia Question of the Month – A properly maintained cork oak tree (Quercus suber) can live up to 200 years. How many times can the bark on a cork tree be harvested over the 200 year life span?

A) only once

B) 5-10 times

C) 15-18 times

D) 20-25 times

- Answer at the end of the newsletter.

ReCORK Partnership

ReCORK is a natural cork recycling company that takes used natural corks, breaks them down and reforms them into new cork products. Primarily cork soles for shoes. ReCORK was launched as a natural wine cork recycling program in 2008 by Canadian footwear company SOLE. It has since become the largest program of its kind in North America, with an R&D team dedicated to innovation around the cork recycling process.

Here at the Cellar we support the use of natural corks and our corks are an agglomerated natural cork. They use the bits of cork left over from the first cork cuts and those bits are ground up and reformed into a cork for your wine bottle. Since we first opened the Cellar has used over 66,000 corks to bottle some great tasting wines.

As a partner in the program, we now have a cork collection container available here at the shop. All you need to do to recycle your corks is to collect them and bring them down to drop them into the bucket located by the front desk.

Why cork? Cork is amazing. It’s one of the only renewable resources that actually has a carbon-negative impact, which means that growing, harvesting and processing it has a net result of removing carbon from our atmosphere. In other words, the world becomes a better place the more we choose cork!

Myth busting: there is no shortage of cork, and cork oak trees are not cut down to make cork. In reality, the biggest threat to cork is a reduction in global demand of natural cork stoppers. The use of alternative stoppers threatens this environmentally and economically sustainable industry and risks leaving cork forests unprotected.

Cork oaks grow in 2.7 million hectares of ecologically sensitive, high-biodiversity forests in Mediterranean Europe and North Africa. Cork oak forests sequester 30.6 million tons of CO2 per year. Cork is harvested by hand from the bark of cork oak trees. No trees are cut down in the process. Instead, every tree is left standing to be harvested every 9-12 years. With the right care and management, cork trees can live well over 200 years.

To learn more about the RECORK company you can check them out at

Please save and recycle your corks by dropping them off at your convenience at the Cellar.

Barrel Club

The Barrel Club is where we create a large batch of wine, 10 kits which equals 230 litres and then batch age the wine in a Hungarian Oak Cask, creating a high-quality wine with tons of character and flavour. Just choose which variety or varieties you want to join in on and then give us a call to pay & hold your spot. Payment can be made over the phone to save a trip to the shop. Once it is sold out, we will contact everyone to come in to pitch the yeast. Just like all of our kits this opportunity will get you about 30 bottles of wine.

Next Up – Amarone with Grape Skins

Back by popular demand we are once again offering Amarone with Skins. Those of you who were lucky enough to get in on the previous batches know how wonderful this wine is. You said your wine racks are empty of Amarone and we are here to help remedy that situation.

An irresistible wine whose elegance draws you subliminally into its orbit. Intense ruby-garnet in color, it is redolent of a profusion of aromas of coffee, cherries and sun-dried fruits. Its higher alcohol makes it full and generous in the mouth and it overwhelms the palate with intense flavors, prolonging your pleasure with its characteristic slightly bitter finish. This batch will include 40 kilos of beautiful grape skins that will add that extra body and fullness we all know and love.

Sweetness: Dry / Body: Full / Oak: Heavy / Recommended aging: 9-12 months

Cost for this variety is $348.50 and any bottles required.

We have only 6 spots available for this offering.

Please don’t hesitate, call or stop in today to reserve your spot!!

Wine of The Month – Italian Super Tuscan

This in one of our favorites - the Italian Super Tuscan. Subtle hints of vanilla with robust fruit flavor and heavy untoasted oak chip character add intense tannins to the palate. This wine offers traces of the old world that are big on flavor. Built with a strong back bone of acidity, this wine is better on the dinner table enjoyed with food rather than sipping alone. That’s what tapas were meant for - to be enjoyed with your wine!

This is a blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc and what a combination. All our favorites in one bottle! If you enjoy a wonderful full bodied red wine then you are going to enjoy this one for sure.

Comparable Wines: Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cab Franc

Pairing: Pasta, Italian food and red meats pair well with this wine.

Oak: Heavy Body: Full Aging: 9-12 months

Available In: Supreme Sterile Juice Only

Recipe of the Month

Spaghetti with White Wine and Seafood


· 1 lb(s) spaghetti pasta

· ¼ cup olive oil

· 3 shallots, chopped

· 3 cloves garlic, minced

· ¾ cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

· 1 ½ cups Vintner’s Cellar White Wine like a Piesporter or Trebbiano

· 1 lb(s) shrimp, peeled and deveined

· 2 lb(s) clams, washed

· 1 tsp kosher salt

· 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

· 2 cups arugula


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta.

  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.

  3. Add the shallots and the garlic and cook for 3 minutes, until tender but not brown. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and cook for another minute. Add the wine, shrimp, and clams. Bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, until the shrimp are pink and the clams have opened, about 7 minutes.

  4. Add the spaghetti to the seafood mixture. Add the salt and pepper and stir to combine. Add the arugula. Stir gently and place on a serving platter. Serve immediately.

Trivia Question answer is 15-18 times over the life time of the tree! Amazing.

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