There is a new term that has been used around Niagara's Wineries, Somewhereness. Our expansion on the typical term, terroir, our chance to really explain our wines beyond the soil and make it about the whole journey, from root to glass.
I started Dine by the Vine in 2011, It was meant to be Niagara's first food and wine tour company but after a failed partnership that title belongs to Niagara Vintage Wine Tours. The idea of dining at the winery, or even better, in the vineyard was something I dreamed as a young cook. Now, this is something I have done on a number of occasions with Dine by the Vine while partnering with wineries, most recently Southbrook Vineyards after launching the Oakroom Series and Farmers' Table Bistro in 2015.
I was born and raised in St.Catharines, Ontario where I was a 15 minute bike ride from a farm in just about any direction. When you do this from spring to late fall you cannot help but watch as the vineyards and orchards come to life, how the evolve through the seasons. As a chef this can be our greatest inspiration for menus. For 16 years I have dedicated myself to cooking professionally and since I first walked into Inn on the Twenty and Jackson Triggs in 2005 wine has become an incredible influence on how I create a dish. I use wine as if it were an ingredient instead of merely pairing any dish with any bottle of wine. The aim to to create an experience that speaks to Somewhereness, that involves not just the food and wine, but the location of the dining experience.
I use my wine training through Brock University and International Sommelier Guild to look through a wineries portfolio and create a menu that only they could enjoy. Now take that menu and that wine, put it in the barrel cellar or out in the vineyard and you will never be able to recreate that experience. The smells alone change from season to season, as does the wine and the ingredients we cook with. Even in the dead of winter there is a story that can be told with a food and wine pairing. The beauty of wine and great ingredients is that they are never the same. They are living products, just as the vineyards around. The chance to cook amongst our regions vineyards and share the passion I have to each guest, that is why I created Dine by the Vine. That is what makes tourism in Niagara so special.
Owner of Dine by the Vine Hospitality and Your Farm Gate