2020 Ontario Wine Awards: Winemaker of the Year is Philip Dowell
2020 would have been the 26th year for the Ontario Wine Awards. Unfortunately, COVID-19 put the usual rigorous judging of entries by 24 highly qualified tasters on hold. However, the OWA team was determined that we celebrate the quality of Ontario’s VQA wines in the fashion of the day. So, they reached out to judges, who had participated in the last three years of the competition, and asked them to nominate the top three white, red and sparkling wines they had tasted during this year. From their responses, they tabulated the top scoring wines. In addition, the judges were asked to vote on whom they considered should be honoured with the title “Winemaker of the Year”, sponsored by Quench Magazine.
Quench Magazine Winemaker of the Year Award goes to… Philip Dowell from Angels Gate Estate Winery
Australian-born winemaker Philip Dowell makes wine following a simple philosophy: balance. For Dowell, balance in both the vineyard and wine itself elevates what’s in the bottle from simply delicious to extraordinary. In the nearly 14 years he has worked at Angels Gate Estate Winery, he has brought together terroir, elevage and typicity in ways that make the estate’s wines at once truly unique and enjoyable.
Located on the Beamsville Bench in Ontario’s Niagara region, Angels Gate Winery is a mission-style winery with a picturesque gabled tower that overlooks the rolling vineyards nestled on the coast of Lake Ontario. Dowell sources fruit from six estate vineyards, including a small winery plot that delivers powerful old-vine Chardonnay. He emphasizes the distinctive character of each vineyard – the nuances generated by soil type, climate and region – while at the same time showing varietal character.
His award winning wines span many styles, including Cabernet/Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Riesling; he has also had some pretty unique accomplishments: introducing the first Marsanne vines to Niagara, for his Marsanne/Viognier under the Kew Label; teaming up with Vineland Research and Innovation Centre to utilize a prototype appassimento chamber used to dry grapes in a way that boosts sugar contents of the wines. This makes him not only 2020 Winemaker of the Year, but one to watch for years to come.
About the Sponsor (Aka, Us)
At Quench, we’re always looking for ways to support Canada’s food and drink industries. From our Mav Chef awards each year, in which we honour Canada’s culinary trendsetters, to our Mav Wine and Spirits list, where we list every great drink to cross our palates each year, we’re proud to be Canadian and support Canadian producers. So, when we had the opportunity to sponsor the Ontario Wine Awards, of course we said yes.