PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY, ON – INTERVIEW WITH RICHARD KARLO
Richard Karlo (Owner and Winemaker) and Sherry Martin (Marketing) run Karlo Estates (founded in 2006), one of the newer wineries in “The County” . Up until ten years ago Prince Edward County was a weekend getaway known for the Sandbanks Provincial Park and not so much for its wine production and gourmet culture. With just a few wineries experimenting on the Burgundian type soils a decade ago and their wines gaining critical acclaim, it wasn’t long before 31 wineries made up what is known as one of Canada’s most exciting wine regions. The production is very limited and with “The County’s” growing popularity (proximity to Toronto: approx 2 hour drive), these wines are going quite fast. If you’re not so big on the overly “polished” (often sterile wineries filled with busloads of weekend wine warriors, my personal opinion) Niagara On The Lake region, Prince Edward County is the perfect place for you: Real people making real wines! With a treasure trove of privately owned farms and organic culture, it’s foody heaven!
It wasn’t very long ago that I got a heads up about Karlo Estates in Prince Edward County and the first thing I did was think “Huh? They grow wine on Prince Edward Island?” just to find out that PEC is actually in Ontario, not far from where I was born and raised… shame on me, shame on me! But since PEC actually is an island community located at the eastern end of Lake Ontario, I wasn’t that far off.
Pinot Noir is the flagship varietal of the region and I also noticed a lot of Cabernet Franc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and Chardonnay. Richard Karlo has been experimenting with the virtually unknown Frontenac grape, a cold hardy varietal able to resist -30 degree Celsius temperatures and used in the production of fortified (Port style) wines. Judging by the firs vintage he has maturing at the moment, a great choice.
One of the main themes touched on in this interview is the “Cellared in Canada” schlamazel! With Mr. Harper having gained a majority vote in the May 2nd, 2011 elections, maybe he can finally tackle this ridiculous term used to describe foreign wine which is bottled in Canada (British Columbia is allowed to bottle 100% foreign wine, Ontario up to 70% with the rest having to be Canadian wine) and it be sold in the “Canadian Wine Section” of the government run liquor stores. How ridiculous is that??!! If you’re not trying to “mislead” the consumer, then why don’t you just call it what it is? Imported wine!! Which should be sold in the proper section, should it not? There’s more information on this subject in the Wine On The Rocks Jancis Robinson interview which can be viewed here.