2023 Ontario Wine Awards Winners

George Brown College (GBC) has announced the results for the Ontario Wine Awards (OWA) 2023, the province’s most prestigious wine competition and awards program.

The OWA, founded by Tony Aspler in 1985, recognizes Ontario Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines for their quality, distinction and brilliance.

A total of 558 wines were entered in this year’s competition held at GBC and were judged by a panel of 10.

“Kudos to George Brown College for taking the competition judging to a new level,” said Aspler. “The involvement of the students in the execution of the Ontario Wine Awards, including the judging process (there will be a special student award this year), will ensure a new cohort of ambassadors for the Ontario wine industry.”

The results were released at the awards ceremony, held at Niagara College, where the medals for best in category were presented to the winemakers.

The quality of winemaking was exceptional, with 40 Gold medals handed out, 32 Silver, and 30 Bronze.

The Winemaker of the Year Award went to Katie Dickieson from Peller Estates with six medals: including four gold.

The Paul Pender Memorial “Rising Star” Award went to Brooke Husband, Assistant Winemaker, Domaine Queylus. The Paul Pender Memorial Award celebrates the achievements and legacy of an outstanding leader in the Canadian wine industry. The recipient of this “Rising Star” award – selected by a committee of their peers – has demonstrated the qualities that made Paul Pender a winemaker’s winemaker: talent, selfless generosity, mentorship, and innovation.

“George Brown College remains at the centre of the hospitality industry in Canada. As a long-time leader in hospitality education, the college is excited to have recently acquired the Ontario Wine Awards and incorporate the program into our academic and enterprise delivery, further positioning GBC as a beverage alcohol education leader,” said Dr. Gervan Fearon, President of George Brown College. “Congratulations to this year’s group of winemakers who showcased exceptional attention to detail, patience, and creativity.”

George Brown’s Center for Hospitality & Culinary Arts has been involved in the OWA judging and events since 2016.

The various competitions and tastings delivered under OWA draw more than 80 industry leading wineries, 500 wine entrants and over 500 participants across the events.


Sparkling Wine (traditional method) Award

Gold: Megalomaniac, Bubblehead Limited Edition Brut N/V
Gold: Thirty Bench, Winemakers Sparkling Riesling N/V
Gold: Trius Winery, Showcase Blanc de Blancs N/V
Gold: Malivoire, Bisous Rosé N/V
Gold: Niagara College Teaching Winery, Balance Brut N/V
Silver: Trius Winery, Brut Rosé N/V
Silver: 13th Street Winery, Grande Cuvée Blanc de Noir 2013 Recently Disgorged
Silver: Chateau des Charmes, Blanc de Blancs 2018
Silver: Malivoire, Bisous Brut N/V
Silver: 13th Street Winery, Premier Cuvée 2017
Bronze: Chateau des Charmes, Brut Sparkling N/V

Sparkling Wine (Cuve Close)

Gold: Greenlane Estate Winery, Saffron Sparkling Rosé 2021
Silver: Colio Estate Wines, Lily Sparkling N/V

Semi-Dry Riesling Award

Gold: Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyards, Riesling 2017
Gold: Megalomaniac, Narcissist Riesling 2021
Silver: Thirty Bench, Small Lot Riesling Wood Post Vineyard 2020

Pinot Gris Award

No Gold Medal awarded.
Silver: Strewn Winery, Pinot Grigio 2021
Silver: Konzelmann Estate Winery, Pinot Grigio – Lakefront Series 2021
Bronze: Wayne Gretzky Estates, Signature Series Pinot Grigio 2021

Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Award

Gold: Peller Estates Winery, Private Reserve Sauvignon Blanc 2021
Gold: Trius Winery, Showcase Wild Ferment Sauvignon Blanc 2020
No Silver Medal awarded.
Bronze: Reif Estate Winery, Drea’s Sauvignon Blanc 2022
Bronze: Magnotta, Sauvignon Blanc VQA 2022
Bronze: Ravine, Sauvignon Blanc 2022

Unoaked Chardonnay Award

Gold: Big Head Wines Inc., 2022 Chardonnay Stone
No Silver Medal awarded.
Bronze: Strewn Winery, Distinctive Small Lot Chardonnay Musqué 2021
Bronze: Konzelmann Estate Winery, Chardonnay Unoaked – Lakefront Series 2022

Oaked Chardonnay (Over $20) Award

Gold: Konzelmann Estate Winery, Chardonnay Barrel Aged 2022
Gold: Exultet Estates, cru X Chardonnay 2018
Silver: Jackson-Triggs, Grand Reserve Chardonnay 2020
Bronze: Le Clos Jordanne, Jordan Village Chardonnay 2020

Gewürztraminer Award

Gold: Magnotta, Gewürztraminer VQA Venture Series 2022

Dry White Varietals Award

No Gold Medal Awarded
Silver: Malivoire, Wine 2022 Stouck Viognier
Bronze: Big Head Wines Inc., 2021 Chenin Blanc

Other Dry Wines Award

Gold: Palatine Hills Estate Winery, Wild & Free Semillon 2021
No Silver Medal Awarded
Bronze: Big Head Wines Inc., 2020 RAW Chenin Blanc

Gamay Award

Gold: 13th Street Winery, Gamay 2021
No Silver Medal awarded.
Bronze: 13th Street Winery, Gamay Sandstone 2021
Bronze: Chateau des Charmes, Gamay Noir Estate 2020

Rosé Award

Gold: 180 Estate Winery, Gamay Rosé 2021
Silver: Reif Estate Winery, Drea’s Rosato 2021
Silver: Huff Estates Winery, Getaway Rosé 2022
Silver: Malivoire, 2022 Vivant Rosé
Silver: Inniskillin, Reserve Cabernet Franc Rosé 2021
Silver: Reif Estate Winery, ‘Fortune’ Rosé 2022
Bronze: Malivoire, 2022 Rosé Moira

Pinot Noir Award

Gold: King and Victoria, Pinot Noir 2018
Gold: Domaine Queylus, 2018 Pinot Noir La Grande Réserve
Silver: Konzelmann Estate Winery, Pinot Noir – Lakefront Series 2021

Cabernet Franc Award

Gold: Domaine Queylus, 2020 Cabernet Franc Tradition
Gold: Ravine, Cabernet Franc 2020
Gold: Peller Estates Winery, Signature Series Cabernet Franc 2020
Gold: Big Head Wines Inc., 2020 Cabernet Franc Select
Gold: Thirty Bench, Winemaker’s Wild Cask Cabernet Franc 2020
Silver: Konzelmann Estate Winery, Cabernet Franc Family Reserve 2020
Silver: London Born Wine Co., Cabernet Franc 2018
Bronze: Hinterbrook Estate Winery, Cabernet Franc Reserve 2017
Bronze: Marynissen Estates, Platinum Series Cabernet Franc 2020
Bronze: Thirty Bench, Winemaker’s Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2020
Bronze: Dark Horse Estate Winery, One Horse Town Cabernet Franc 2019

Merlot Award

Gold: Sprucewood Shores Winery, Merlot Hawk’s Flight Reserve 2020
Gold: Thirty Bench, Winemaker’s Small Lot Merlot 2020
Gold: Kacaba Vineyards and Winery, Signature Series, Reserve Merlot 2020
Gold: Niagara College Teaching Winery, Dean’s List Merlot 2020
Silver: Inniskillin, Montague Vineyard Merlot 2020
Silver: Bella Terra Vineyards, Merlot 2020
Silver: Konzelmann Estate Winery, Merlot Family Reserve 2020
Silver: Chateau des Charmes, St. Davids Bench Merlot

Meritage and Cabernet Blends Award

Gold: Magnotta, Legacy Limited Edition VQA 2018
Gold: Konzelmann Estate Winery, Legacy Meritage 2020
Gold: Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, Reserve Red 2020
Gold: Three Dog Winery, Big Red 2020
Silver: Hinterbrook Estate Winery, Trinity 2016
Silver: The Foreign Affair Winery Temptress 2020
Bronze: Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery, Ravine Meritage 2020
Bronze: Magnotta, Cabernet Sauvignon Merlot VQA Venture Series 2020

Syrah/Shiraz Award

Gold: Kacaba Vineyards and Winery, Premium Series, Terraced Vineyard Syrah 2020
No Silver Medal awarded.
Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards and Winery, Signature Series, Reserve Syrah 2020
Bronze: Kacaba Vineyards and Winery, Premium Series, Proprietor’s Block Syrah 2020

Hybrid Red Award

No Gold Medal Awarded
Silver: Creemore Hills Winery, Marquette 2021

Late Harvest Whites & Reds Award

Gold: Peller Estates Winery, Private Reserve Late Harvest Vidal 2021
Gold: Trius Winery, Showcase Late Harvest Vidal 2021
Silver: Casa Dea Estates, Pinot Grigio Late Harvest 2021

Appassimento Red Award

No Gold Medal Awarded
No Silver Medal Awarded
Bronze: Sprucewood Shores Winery, Appassimento Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Other Red Wines Award

Gold: Strewn Winery, Select Late Harvest Cabernet 2017
Silver: Pelee Island Winery, Vinedresser Cabernet Sauvignon Petit Verdot 2016
Bronze: Legends Estates Winery, Petit Verdot Reserve 2021
Bronze: Pelee Island Winery, Stone & Sky 2021

Vidal Icewine Award

No Gold Medal Awarded
Silver: Magnotta, Vidal Icewine Merritt Road Limited Edition VQA 2019
Silver: Peller Estates Winery, Andrew Peller Oak Aged Vidal Blanc Icewine 2019
Bronze: Magnotta, Vidal Icewine Niagara Peninsula Limited Edition VQA 2020
Bronze: Chateau des Charmes, Vidal 2018

Vinifera Icewine Award

Gold: Inniskillin, Cabernet Franc Icewine 2019
Gold: Riverview Cellars Estate Winery, Riesling Icewine 2019
Gold: Andrew Peller, Riesling Icewine 2019
Silver: Big Head Wines Inc., 2015 Riesling Icewine
Bronze: Pelee Island Winery, Icewine 2017
Bronze: Magnotta, Cabernet Franc Icewine Niagara Peninsula Limited Edition VQA 2018
Bronze: Magnotta, Riesling Icewine Niagara Peninsula Limited Edition VQA 2019
Bronze: Inniskillin, Riesling Icewine 2021

Unassigned Wines Award

Gold: London Born Wine Co., Chardonnay Musqué 2020
Silver: Niagara College Teaching Winery, Balance Muscat 2020

Label Design Award

First Place: Henry of Pelham Family State Winery, Speck Bros., Lazarra Bianco Secco.

Students Choice Award

Trius Winery Brut Rosé N/V
Villa Romana Estate Winery, Speziato Gewürztraminer 2021
Thirty Bench, Winemaker’s Small Lot Merlot 2020

Paul Pender Rising Star Award

Winner: Brooke Husband

Brooke graduated from the Niagara College Winery and Viticulture program in 2018 and during her studies she worked at Domaine Queylus for her first harvest. She then worked in the Okanagan Valley at Black Hills Estate Winery. When she returned to Niagara, she knew her passion was wild fermented Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

Brooke has worked at Domaine Queylus now for five harvest and in 2022 received the KML Top-30-Under-30 award for Hospitality in Canada

Wine Marketing Association of Ontario Journalism Award

Winner: Christopher Waters

Christopher Waters has been writing about wine for more than two decades. He is the wine and spirits columnist for The Globe and Mail, education director of IWEG Drinks academy in Toronto and a WSET (Wine Spirits Education Trust) certified instructor at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Brock University. Prior to his position at the Globe and Mail, waters were author of a nationally syndicated column, Waters & Wine, and worked for 21 years as editor/co-founder of Canada’s largest circulation wine Magazine, VINES.

The Winemaker of the Year Award

Winner: Katie Dickieson

Although it was in university that Katie found her passion for wine, she always knew she would be working in the field of agriculture. Growing up on a farm she had a strong appreciation for the land and a love for the excitement of harvest, so it was a perfect match when she found wine through a course within the Food Science program at the University of Guelph. A first vintage in Ontario led to many more traveling and making wine overseas. With time spent in world class vineyards in the Okanagan, New Zealand and France, Katie returned home to Ontario and joined Peller Estates as winemaker in 2012. Upon returning to Peller, Katie has focused on elevating wine quality through viticulture management and has taken on a greater role managing Vineyard Operations for Andrew Peller Limited nationally.

White Wine of The Year

Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyards
Riesling 2017

This Riesling was sourced from a number of sites from the Niagara Escarpment and Prince Edward County, each site adding layers of complex fruit, mineral and acidity, capturing the best of both applications: from the County, exhilarating acid and a bright ethereal palate; the Niagara fruit anchoring the wine with an array of ripe fruit aromas, flavours and a weight on the palate to perfectly balance the lively acid. Whole cluster press of individual vineyard sites. Each block is fermented separately at cool temperatures in stainless steel. Aged 4 months in stainless, no malolactic fermentation.

Riesling at its best! Exhilarating acidity perfectly balanced by an array of ripe fruit aromas and intoxicating florals. Bosc pear, gooseberry and Granny Smith apple give way to orchard blossom and honeysuckle. Loads of chalky minerality.

Red Wine of The Year

Domaine Queylus
2020 Cabernet Franc Tradition

Our Tradition Cabernet Franc shows black cherry complemented with a hint of smoke, dried herbs, and fresh earth on the nose with undertones of graphite minerality.

The mineral element of this wine continues onto the palate where field berry and pomegranate balanced with tobacco leaf round out the mid-palate. The lake effect on this Lincoln Lakeshore appellation wine allows for a rich, later-ripening example of Niagara Cabernet Franc from the Bench.

This wine is solidly structured, with medium tannins and an enjoyable finish. The perfect accompaniment to a meal or great for a glass on its own.

Aged 16-18 months in French oak.

100% Wild Fermentation

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  1. Pingback: A Wine Lover’s Diary, part 883: A Wine-Blitzed Week | Tony Aspler, the Wine Guy

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