A Winemaker’s Passion for Ontario Cabernet Franc

The Vineland Estates Winery cellar is where Winemaker, Brian Schmidt, puts the finishing touches on grapes that are grown on some of the oldest vines in Ontario. Vineland Estates grows their grapes on perfect soil, which consists of limestone and clay. This remarkable stretch of land helps to create a wine that Schmidt fell in love with after taking his first sip 30 years ago. 

“This wine struck me as one of the most impressive wines that I had ever tasted up until that point in my life,” Schmidt says.

While the majority of the province was planting Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, Schmidt decided to take a chance on Cabernet Franc in 1996. 

“For me, Cabernet Franc really embodies the perfect grape. From grape growing to winemaking, it has a tremendous amount of synergy with the land and with the winemaker,” Schmidt explains.

When it comes to Ontario Cabernet Franc, there is no bigger advocate than Schmidt. When he’s not on his tractor in the vineyard, you’ll find him in the barrel cellar. Schmidt pays frequent visits to the oak barrels that are marked ‘CF’ in chalk. While sampling the latest vintages with a wine thief and a glass, he can taste the flavours and characteristics of the soil and the growing season in the almost finished product. 

“I have been pounding the Cabernet Franc nail for quite a number of years and in doing so, I have not only fallen in love with growing the grape, but I have fallen in love with making the wine,” Schmidt shares.

For consumers, Vineland Estates has a wide range of Cabernet Francs to please any palate, at an affordable price. It is a wine that is approachable and drinkable, but with a range of flavours and features. 

“I love Cabernet Franc because it is so incredibly diverse…it responds well to subtle changes in the vineyard and it’s incredibly rewarding to see those changes translate in the wine, and ultimately, in consumer perception.”

Pouring a glass of Vineland Cabernet Franc is much more than just pouring wine, it’s pouring passion made from the perfect blend of grapes, soil and skill.

Written by Britt Dixon
Britt Dixon is a digital creator & social media marketer and loves telling stories about Ontario wine. She teaches others about local wine through her regular #SippingOntario video series, and interviews with winemakers and producers on her social media channels.  Britt also works with wineries producing video content to help them share their stories and grow their brands on social media. She’s a TV expert, freelance writer and contributor, and also loves hosting events and tastings. Britt’s passion for the Ontario wine industry started young. Growing up in Niagara she would pick grapes and make wine with her Papa. She has a Certificate in Ontario Wine through Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute.