Rosehall Run: Getting the most from Prince Edward terroir

Dan Sullivan: founder, viticulturalist and winemaker at Rosehall Vineyards. Photo by Rick VanSickle of Wines in Niagara.

In 2000, Dan Sullivan, his partner, Lynn Sullivan, and their brother-in-law Cam Reston, purchased a 150-acre farm in Hillier, Ontario, in the heart of what was then just the beginning of the Prince Edward County wine region.

The vineyard was planted in 2001, first harvest followed three years later, and in 2006, Rosehall Run Vineyards, named for the nearby hamlet of Rosehall, opened to the public with its first offerings. Since then, accolades and awards have followed, and Rosehall Run has become widely known—as much for its fine artisan wines as for the efforts of the Sullivans to raise the profile of the wine and local food communities.

Dan Sullivan is the vineyard manager, viticulturalist and winemaker, overseeing every facet of Rosehall Run’s operations.

Prior to founding Rosehall Run, Dan spent 15 years honing his craft as a home winemaker, being named Grand Master Winemaker by the provincial association. Since that time he has certainly upped his game, now producing 6,000 cases a year, yet he still maintains a hands-on approach to managing the vineyard. He monitors the weather and its effects and uses gentle, environmentally-sound grape farming techniques to extract optimum results from the unique Prince Edward County terroir, which is clay soil on a limestone base.

Planting of the vineyard began in 2001, with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay occupying the majority of the 23 acres now in production. In addition to using their estate grapes, fruit is also sourced from other Prince Edward County and Niagara region vineyards.

Great view of the vineyards from the tasting deck at Rosehall Run in Hillier. Photo by Rick VanSickle of Wines in Niagara.

Rosehall Run’s wine is produced on-site in stainless steel tanks and aged in French, Hungarian and some Canadian oak. With a range of award-winning wines to sample, complimentary tours and a new tasting room in the works, Rosehall Run is definitely worth a visit on any County wine tour. Here are tasting notes on three of the most popular vintages.

TASTING NOTES

2008 Sullyzwicker White: With a bright straw colour, the Sullyzwicker White is a satisfying blend of Riesling, Chardonnay, Musqué, Ehrenfelser, Pinto Gris and Muscat Ottonel. It is a light-bodied, summery blend with floral notes and a mineral finish.

2007 Cold Creek Cabernet Franc: Aged in French oak, this wine has an abundant bouquet, and tantalizes the palate with rich tones of smoky blackberry and a long, dry finish.

2008 Chardonnay Rosehall Vineyard: Creamy and sweet, this Chardonnay is produced exclusively from estate grapes. It has a rich nose and pleasing aspects of vanilla and ripe peach.

WINE LIST

RED:

  • 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon – a full-bodied wine made from Niagara grapes
  • 2007 Cold Creek Cabernet Franc – made exclusively from County grapes, it was Gold Medal Winner at Finger Lakes International Wine Competition 2011
  • 2007 Cuvée County Cabernet Franc – an easy-to-drink, casual wine, perfect for every day
  • 2008 Cuvée County Gamay – made from 100% County grapes, this was Rosehall Run’s first Gamay
  • 2008 Cuvée County Pinot Noir – a robust Pinot, it was a Gold Medal winner at ArteVino 2010
  • 2007 Pinot Noir Jamie Kennedy – a collaborative creation with renowned chef Jamie Kennedy; 2007 was a superb year for reds
  • 2008 Pinot Noir Rosehall Vineyard – made from estate grapes, it was a Gold Medal winner at ArteVino 2010
  • 2008 Sullyzwicker Red – a blend of Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Pinot Noir and Syrah

WHITE:

  • 2006 Chardonnay – oak barrel fermented for 10 months
  • 2007 Chardonnay Jamie Kennedy – another collaborative creation with Chef Jamie Kennedy, sourced exclusively from estate grapes
  • 2009 Chardonnay Musqué – this unoaked estate wine was Rosehall Run’s first Musqué
  • 2008 Chardonnay Rosehall Vineyard – barrel fermented and aged sur lie for eleven months, it was a Gold Medal winner at Finger Lakes International Wine Competition 2011
  • 2009 Chardonnay Sur Lie – lightly oaked, this wine contains both Prince Edward County and Niagara region fruit
  • 2007 Cuvée County Chardonnay – contains 25% Chardonnay Musqué
  • 2008  Cuvée County Chardonnay – Gold Medal winner at ArteVino 2010
  • 2008 Fieldstone Vineyard Riesling – a dry wine with fruit sourced from a neighbouring vineyard
  • 2008 Sullyzwicker White – a custom blend of six Prince Edward County grapes

ROSÉ:

  • Sullyzwicker Rosé – a blend of Gamay (90%) and Pinot Noir (10%)

Pinot Noir grapes fresh from harvesting at Rosehall Run. Photo by Toronto Tasting Notes.

ROSEHALL RUN VINEYARDS

1243 Greer Road RR#1, Wellington, Ontario  K0K 3L0  Telephone 613.399.1183 | 1.888.399.1183

Rosehall Run wines can be purchased at their retail store and through their website. Also available at some LCBO, LCBO Vintages, WineryToHome and select Ontario restaurants.

Rosehall Run Vineyards will be a Featured Winery at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival taking place June 4-5 at Crystal Palace in Picton, in the heart of Prince Edward County, Ontario’s newest wine region and fastest-growing culinary destination. Rosehall Run wines will be available for tasting at Cooks & Curds Cheese Gala on Saturday and during Cheese & Artisan Food Fair on Sunday.

—Krista Dalby

A writer living in Prince Edward County, Krista Dalby runs Small Pond Arts with her husband. Read their blog at smallpondarts.blogspot.com.