Henry of Pelham lands in 2nd place at the Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards
The Speck family attributes their success to fruit, family and terroir
For the Speck brothers, Henry of Pelham’s success comes down to fruit — and family.
Located on the Niagara Peninsula, the family-owned and operated winery relies on carefully selected grape varieties and unique terroir to produce award-winning Canadian wine. The winery placed second at the Wine Access 2011 Canadian Wine Awards.
“You can’t create things that aren’t there to begin with,” says Matthew Speck, viticulturalist at Henry of Pelham. “Quality winemaking is really just about trying to capture the flavours that are in the grapes.”
Understanding the Terroir
Since their first vintage in 1988, the Speck brothers have gradually refined their understanding of grapes and how they fit (or don’t fit) in the Short Hills Bench terroir. In the beginning, “it was very much a shotgun approach to planting,” says Matthew. “We learned very quickly that half of them had to come out.”
The brothers are also focused on creating a sense of place with their wines. Henry of Pelham president Paul Speck was a founding director of the Vintners Quality Alliance of Ontario, which sets standards for wines made in the province. “VQA is really about origin and authenticity,” says Paul. “We’re going to continue to increase the quality of our wines and define the Short Hills Bench through our wine.”
A Family Business
The brothers started working at the winery, then a fledgling vineyard, while in university. The St. Catharines land had been in the family since 1794 (a reward for remaining loyal to the British during the American Revolution), and it was their father’s dream to start a winery.
The Speck brothers do not shy away from bringing family history into their winemaking culture. They named their award-winning Cuvée Catharine range after their great-, great-, great-grandmother, whose husband, Nicholas Smith, was awarded the land that the winery sits on today.
Wines Inspired by Family
The forthcoming Family Tree brand, which will feature pan-Niagara-style red and white blends, was inspired by close ties in the Niagara region. “We’re basically related to everybody by blood and marriage; what a perfect metaphor for the style of wine we’re making,” says Daniel Speck, vice-president of sales and marketing.
Focus on the vines and terroir has won Henry of Pelham national recognition for its baco noir, riesling, chardonnay and Cuvée Catharine range.
“It’s an affirmation of the way we’ve grown and made wine over the past two decades,” says Matthew.