A Glass with Gabriel Demarco of Cave Spring Cellars
After a decade working as a waiter and an artist, Gabriel Demarco came to realize two things: that Ontario wine far surpassed his expectations for flavour and uniqueness, and that winemaking is rooted in science as much as it is art. “It was as if I finally discovered the art form that suited me best,” says Demarco. Starting as a co-op student, he is now oenologist and viticulturist, or caretaker of the vines, at Cave Spring Cellars, driving sustainable winemaking processes while ensuring the company, ranked among the top New World wineries, stays true to its local roots.
The Wines: Unmistakably Beamsville
Perception is everything with wine, says Demarco. “We put our wines in blind tastings, and they perform as well as, if not better than, similar-style wines from around the world,” he explains, adding that Cave Spring’s prowess stems from its focus on growing winter-hardy varietals that thrive in Niagara’s short ripening season. “Gamay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Franc benefit greatly from our local microclimate. You get this intensely fruity flavour, and because the vines require less work, they’re more sustainable over the long term.”
Pinot Noir is called the heartbreaker grape because it’s so hard to make. The secret? Our gentle harvesting process, which helps harmonize flavour.
The Winery: A Local Legend
Recently recognized by Wine Enthusiast as one of the top New World wineries in the world, Cave Spring was founded nearly 35 years ago, when there were fewer than 10 wineries in Ontario. Home to some of the oldest vines in Canada, Cave Spring grows, cellars and bottles nearly everything it makes. “We’re an estate winery, which means we control virtually every part of the winemaking process,” says Demarco. By focusing on what grows best along the 190-acre estate winery, Cave Spring eliminates the need for pesticides or excessive farming. “We make wine with minimal intervention, crafting a pure expression of the grape and what makes it local.”
How to Enjoy
“A great red wine doesn’t need to be big and bold, but it needs finesse,” says Demarco, who recommends pairing the lighter-bodied Gamay with pizza or pasta, and the Cabernet Franc–based Dry Rosé with hard cheeses and figs, portobello mushrooms or roast chicken.
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