As you may have gathered from our posts, wine is produced in a number of regions in Ontario – from Niagara to Prince Edward County – and in other parts of Canada. In our beautiful country, the embrace of cool climate viticulture has created not only wonderful wines, but a truly special wine destination. From the Pacific to the Atlantic Coast, and inland along major bodies of water, viticultural regions are thriving and we have some trailblazers and pioneers to thank; people who saw the potential in the land to produce some seriously cool wine.
Mario Adamo is one individual who had vision. Arriving at 18 in Canada from Southern Italy, Mario followed his passion for wine making and was a risk taker and pioneer. From a thriving catering business, Mario and his wife Nancy took it one step further and opened the Hockley Valley Resort. Known as a four season destination that includes a luxury spa, ski retreat, golf course, conference center, and hotel, the resort is also home to Adamo Estate Winery.
Mario and his family saw the similarity in topography of the Hockley Valley to Calabria, which was home to vine covered hills and slopes. While the sun may not be as strong in Ontario as it is in Calabria, Mario was right in assuming that the Hockley Valley would be a sustainable area to pursue grape growing. Unlike Niagara or some of the more established wine regions in Ontario, grape growing and viticulture in this emerging region raised many questions, but sheer will, hard work and advice from respected winemakers (like our favourite viking, Jonas of Hinterland) helped Adamo steer the course. At 25 acres and with 23,000 vines, the winery is in full operation with a brand new facility.
We couldn’t be more excited to check out this corner of Ontario and to see all that Adamo Estates Winery has to offer!
Adamo Estates is located in Mono, Ontario. Not sure where that is exactly? Perhaps the nearby Hockley Valley Resort will ring a bell, or nearby Caledon. In either case, know that the winery is located on the Niagara Escarpment. As a boutique winery, Adamo procedures small batch wines from the best estate grown fruit (which is growing in scale), as well as from the best growers in Ontario, including Wismer Vineyards from Beamsville, Ontario. Picking the grapes by hand, Adamo Estates also crushes and bottles its wines on site and, like winemakers out in Prince Edward County, has to bury vines in the winter. Hey, we’re a bit further north so the cold is serious business.
The main building is beautiful, sitting on the edge of the Niagara Escarpment and is open in its design. With accents of red and marble, the winery has a contemporary flair that is balanced by the original artwork of the Adamo family. A nice touch, right? That aside, the legacy of the winery site being a horse farm and equestrian facility comes through in the narrative of interior design, labels and names. We love a good narrative!
Tastings and tours are offered at the Winery on weekends, from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. The wine boutique is also open, with a full range of wines: whites, reds and rosé in a range of lines. The estate series reflects grapes grown on the property, whereas the other wines originate from some of the best vineyards in Ontario. Not only that, but the wines from Adamo Estate have been awarded several accolades, including the Bronze Medal at the 2017 Decanter World Wine Awards (we’re looking at you, 2015 Foxcroft Wild Ferment Chardonnay). The tasting bar offers flights, including a chardonnay focussed one (which we highly recommend!).
But you’re probably thinking … you’re Sparkling Winos. Where’s the sparkling?!
Well, Adamo Estates recently released the 2017 Legacy Pét-Nat, which is winery direct (and a perfect reason to visit!). With only 800 bottles made, this sparkling is a real treat. Made with 100% Pinot Blanc, this bubbly is dry and offers toasty, biscuity notes indicative of less contact. Ripe melon and citrus also feature on the nose, while the palate is full of fresh tree fruit and orange pit. Fun, youthful and to be enjoyed over the year, we were pleasantly surprised by how refreshing this Pét-Nat was.
The on-site Paddock Café offers farm-to-table fare, made on the property or nearby. The café’s rustic charm pays homage to the site’s history as a farm and equestrian venue. On weekends, the menu features a range of delicious quick eats – like meatballs, various antipasti and ‘nuja croquettes. Yum!
On our visit, the winery was hosting a wedding so while we weren’t able to sit down and enjoy the ambiance of the Paddock Café, we were able to take in the views of the property from the patio. While enjoying the ‘nuja croquettes a little too much, we had the chance to chat with JP Adamo, son of founder Mario and manager of winery and culinary operations, about the Legacy Series and some of the innovative things that the winery is working on. Providing a bit more freedom to experiment, the Legacy Series is a way for winemaker Shauna White to experiment with different varietals and winemaking techniques, in collaboration with JP. On a side-note, a few weeks after our visit to the winery, we had the pleasure of meeting winemaker Shauna White at the Wismer vineyard, where she discussed how closely she works with the vineyard managers to source fruit for Adamo wines. Super cool!
To our surprise and delight, we had the chance to taste the new release of Adamo’s estate grown Vidal. Vidal, known for its heartiness and for its role in Icewine and occasionally blended with other aromatic white varietals, is rarely seen on its own and if it is, it’s usually off-dry to sweet. Adamo’s take on this is a very unique, dry, aromatic, almost amber coloured wine that is super enjoyable and, dare we say, crushable.
Stay the Night
As we mentioned, Adamo Estates is part of the Hockley Valley Resort. Known as a four seasons destination, we were excited to “hit the hay” (horse pun, sorry) on site and experience true relaxation. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, the resort is beautifully appointed and offers a true full service experience.
Just a short drive from Adamo Estates, Hockley Valley Resort is known for it’s golf course, restaurant and as a venue for weddings. While we visited, a number of weddings were taking place and we may have tried to crash at least one (though we thought better of it). With its on-site bar, restaurant, beautiful patio, pool and manicured grounds, it’s a great get away from the city and is a “one stop” shop for R&R.
Upon checking in, we were taken to our beautifully appointed room. Shutter shades and comfortable bed? We’re in! After a quick nap, we took a stroll through the ground and enjoyed the fresh air.
Following a quick pre-drink at the lovely hotel lobby bar, we headed straight to dinner at the Hockley Valley Resort’s signature restaurant – Cabin. Cabin prepares fantastic regional cuisine, using many locally sourced products. We loved the “cabin” feel of the restaurant, with wood accents and a contemporary flare (that was a nice contrast to the country!). Sitting at the bar, we enjoyed a peek into the culinary team’s action all night long, over delicious fare and… of course… some wine!
All in all, a perfect weekend getaway! 😊 For more on Adamo Estates, check out their website.