Ontario - Wandering the Wine Route: Cattail Creek Estate Winery

Oct 12, 2009

The Four Mile Creek sub-appellation lies south of the Niagara Lakeshore and west of the Niagara River. It is a vast, fertile plain, the largest of the sub-appellations in the entire Niagara Peninsula known for producing premium, full-bodied reds. During the growing season, the area experiences warm days and cool nights.

Red shale with high silt and clay make up the soils here, providing good water retention for the vines. This and the plentiful sunshine give many growers opportunities to try their hand at numerous varieties.

In the midst of this extensive sub-appellation, you can find the small, family-owned winery of Cattail Creek. The Dyck family has grown grapes since 1957, providing premium fruit for local wineries in Niagara-on-the-Lake. In 2006, Ken and Renate Dyck’s daughter, Roselyn joined the family business, helping the family create the present winery.

The family currently owns 40.5 hectares (100 acres) of vineyards growing numerous varieties. Pulling up to their boutique store and winery on Concession 6 in NOTL, you can feel the vineyards spreading off in every direction, the sunshine poring down from a clear blue sky.

Inside the boutique there is a long tasting bar and a sizable menu of varietal and blends to try.

Variety and quality appear to be the two key terms to keep in mind when trying their impressive wines.

My moods take me in different directions and this goes for my wine moods. In the summer, I can drink red or white, it doesn't matter, I don’t have a preference for Pinot Grigios or other patio sippers. A wine is like a good book and sometimes they just pick you.

While visiting the winery, I found myself leaning towards the whites.

2006 Dry Riesling
This wine has a lovely nose and on the palate, a light mineral-lime-lemon-apple-spray of honey. Closer to a German style than New World versions like Australia and New Zealand.

2007 Off-Dry Riesling
A Medal Winner at the Canadian Wine Awards 2008, this Riesling offers more of a viscous peach-pear and orange blossom element than the above. For those that like stone fruit and a hint of sweetness, an excellent white to pair with Indian or Thai food.

2006 Riesling Reserve
Sourced from 30-year old vines, I found this wine resembled an Australian Riesling in its tartness. Expect greens apple and a chalky, mineral zest.

2007 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay
First off, I have to say, I bought two bottles of this wine. Usually, if I really enjoy a wine, I’ll pick up one bottle. I rarely buy cases. Drinking wine for me is about variety and what I open today is different from what I open tomorrow.
Another Medal Winner, this time at the Ontario Wine Awards 2009, not to mention a Best Limited Edition White Wine winner, this Chardonnay is exquisite. In the glass, give it a swirl and just breathe in the vanilla and toasted oak-apples. Take a sip, and the wine lifts you away into a buttertart-toffee–pear-almond-granola heaven.

Now you know why I bought two bottles. Wonderful value, it beats the best of California Chards.

2008 Serendipity Rosé
Another award winner (and not a surprise, this winery is a must-visit for wine lovers), this rosé is a blend of Gamay and Riesling. Even though summer is over, there are still traces of it alive in this fruity medley of strawberry and watermelon.

2008 Pinot Noir
Like Chardonnay, Pinot Noir has its own love-it-hate-it crowd. Wine drinkers are rarely on the fence when it comes to this grape. People who enjoy white wine can appreciate the occasional Pinot Noir as the wine’s acidity is similar to white wines. But those looking for something fuller-bodied, should look for a California Cab or Australian Shiraz.

I've become a recent convert of Pinot Noir. Cattail Creek’s Pinot doesn’t disappoint. It is soft and easy, a pleasant, approachable red with cherry and strawberry notes, not to mention a passing hint of barnyard.

2008 Merlot
I find Merlot especially delicious in the sub-appellations of Four-Mile Creek and the Niagara Lake Shore. (The other night I had the Hillebrand Trius 2008 Merlot – ready to drink but could age another year). Cattail Creak’s Merlot exudes ripe black cherries, smoky chocolate and light notes of vanilla.

I didn’t have a chance to try the other reds which include several higher-end, limited edition reds. There is also a large selection of Dessert Wines, many of them again, you guessed it, award winners.

But please, if you go, check out the Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. This is just one of the reasons to visit Cattail Creek.

Cattail Creek Estate Winery
1156 Concession 6
RR #4 Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON
L0S 1J0
Tel: 905-988-9463
Email: info@cattailcreek.ca
Hours of Operation
May - Oct., 10:00 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily
Nov - April, 11:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. daily


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My focus is mainly on wine culture, history and education. I love the stories behind wine - the people, places and the regional personalities of the wine-countries around the world.

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