Jackson-Triggs: A Field Trip for Earth Month

I’m going to begin this post by being completely honest about something:

One of the reasons I continue this blog – and one of the reasons I want to keep it even though my main business is about to be a Health & Wellness resource – is the event invitations that I receive. Last week, on one of those perfect spring days that we recently had, I spent the day at Jackson-Triggs Winery. Their PR company had hired a bus to take a small group of media to the winery and I felt honoured to be included.

Jackson Triggs vineyard to bottle

I couldn’t not take this photo. In the glass: 2011 Grand Reserve Entourage Brute

Upon arriving at the Toronto meeting spot we were treated to breakfast with bagels from one of my favourite bagel bakery franchises (total coincidence).

A beautiful drive along the QEW with the Lake Ontario view that I like so much when I travel in that direction took us to the winery where I noticed two things immediately: The beautiful building, and a row of grapevines in front of the building. At the right time of year these vines help illustrate the grape to bottle process to visitors. That was the beginning of me being impressed.

An aside: When I check into the winery on y Swarm app the app (formerly Foursquare) tells me that I was last there in February 2012 when Samba Days sent me to Inn on the Twenty and I made a mini Niagara vacation of it.

Requisite selfie.

Requisite selfie.

Jackson-Triggs Means Green

The building, designed by KPMG architects, uses eco friendly architecture with plenty of wood and windows. It’s a green award winner. This is how KPMG describes it on their website:

The design, inspired by the French notion of terroir, embodies geographic characteristics and agricultural typologies of Southern Ontario. The simple, extended horizontal barn-like form is sited parallel to the Escarpment to maximize exposure to north and south light. Production and hospitality functions are united under a continuous roof supported by full-span wood trusses…. Materials (stone, wood, and steel) are left in their natural state, with finishes restricted to clear sealers. The building is framed in structural steel and clad in oversized cement board panels (clapboard). Exterior walls reinterpret the local vernacular of fieldstone bases with the substitution of low-cost, discarded strata from the regional quarry beds of Owen Sound at the northern tip of the Niagara Escarpment.

Since opening, this project has also been recognized as a ‘watershed’ project for demonstrating that “a building can be architecturally ambitious while being a real [energy] performer.” (Canadian Architect, January 2006). The overall footprint is minimized by locating barrel cellars, storage and warehouse facilities in the basement level below the Fermentation Cellar and public spaces. The substantial overhang of the roof eliminates excessive solar gain, and operable windows provide for naturally ventilated spaces, eliminating the need for mechanical cooling requirements through summer months. Mechanical systems are limited to one cooling plant that provides both air-conditioning and process cooling to respond to varying seasonal requirements.

The section facilitates gravity flow for the wine-making process, a significant factor in the making of premium wine. The gravity flow system also determined the choreography of the winery tour, allowing visitors to follow the process of ‘grapes to wine’ while keeping production separate from public access.

It was fascinating.

Jackson-Triggs winery, built by KPMG

Jackson-Triggs entrance.


Another “green” practice is in the way that leftover grape pumace is used. Pumace is the solids (skins, pulp, seeds, and stems) leftover from grapes (or other fruit such as apples or tomatoes, as I’ve seen in dog treats) after pressing. The pumace created by wine production at Jackson-Triggs goes into bio digester and is used to create bio-gas, which is used as energy.

How does biogas production benefit the environment? According to non-profit organization ZooShare, biogas production benefits the environment in plenty of ways including diverting waste from landfills, recycling a readily available source of energy, preventing methane – 21x worse than C02 – from going into the atmosphere, eliminating pathogens and odours from organic waste, generating electricity and more.

Super cool.

In the Barrel Cellar

In the Barrel Cellar

Red red wine butter, and the rest of the meal

As many meals do, this one begins with bread and butter. But this is no ordinary bread and butter. The bread is ciabatta from Toronto’s Ace Bakery, and the butter is a red wine butter. Red wine, Meritage, is blended with sugar and aromatics, reduced, and added to butter. The result is ruby red and smooth. Some of my dining companions were so enamoured with it that they asked for the recipe. One asked for seconds after finishing her first ramekin. We were told that it’s one of the most raved about food item.

Then the three course meal + dessert.

1st course: Citrus Cured Salmon

Citrus Cured Salmon

Jackson-Triggs Citrus Cured Salmon

The Citrus Cured Salmon was possibly life changing. Have you ever had grilled or charred cucumber? I’ve bad plenty of vegetables and fruit grilled or charred – lettuce, root vegetables, pineapple, peaches – but never cucumber. The menu says “Radish, cucumber, pine, chili”. I remember the seasoned salt and the friend onions. The fresh Nova Scotia salmon made lovely cubes of happiness.

Accompanying wine: The Citrus Cured Salmon dish was served with a 2013 Reserve Series Riesling-Gewurztraminer ($13.95/bottle at the winery or your local LCB) that started out with a citrus scent and then became floral on the nose. LCBO tasting notes say, “Pale lemon; peach dominates here with accents of lychee, lime zest, mineral and floral; off-dry with a lingering mineral finish.”

2nd course: Kale Risotto

Jackson-Triggs Kale Risotto

Jackson-Triggs Kale Risotto

What’s your eye going to first? Is it the green risotto? The leek? The grilled radicchio? That big fried ball? The big fried ball is Ontario goat cheese that exploded in my mouth with very soft cheese when I took a bite. I took 6 photos of that dish so that I’d have options for this blog post and they all look freakin’ delicious.

In the summer chef Tim Mackiddie makes it a Nettle Risotto when nettles are in abundance locally.

Accompanying wine: The kale risotto dish was served with 2013 Jackson-Triggs Reserve Series Sauvignon Blanc ($12.95/bottle). Evidently I liked that one, because I put a checkmark next to it on the menu. Jackson-Triggs’ tasting notes say,

“Invigorating aromas of lemon grass, lime zest and ripe tropical fruit. Elegant and crisp with impressive balance and fresh acid. Good intensity and weight with flavours of grapefruit, lemon, box tree, and passion fruit, leading to a graceful, structured finish.”

Main Course: Croque Madame with spring herb salad

Jackson-Triggs Croque Madame

Jackson-Triggs Croque Madame

We’re all getting full by this point but can’t stop eating.

Mackiddie’s Croque Madame has ice wine glazed ham, mustard bechamel, Upper Canada Niagara Gold cheese. Niagara Gold is an aged washed rind, semi-firm cheese inspired by recipes developed by the Trappist Monks of the Loire Valley.

Unique to Upper Canada cheese: Upper Canada is the only creamery in Canada that crafts all of their cows’ milk cheeses purely from fresh Guernsey milk. Guernsey cows are a rare breed with nutritious milk that’s high in beta carotene, protein and butterfat. The cheese is nutty and buttery.

The accompanying spring herb salad would be made with greens grown on site when in season. In retrospect I kind of wish I’d asked where they get their eggs but I suspect that the eggs come from the Niagara region as well. The yolks were beautiful.

Accompanying wine: 2012 Jackson-Triggs Reserve Series Chardonnay ($11.95), which is aged in French oak for 4 months to develop creaminess and vanilla notes. The winery’s tasting notes share that it’s balanced with citrus and tropical flavours

Dessert: Chocolate Red Wine Cake

Jackson-Triggs chocolate red wine cake

Jackson-Triggs chocolate red wine cake

I MAY have scraped my plate clean. Look at that beautiful dollop of dark chocolate custard, the small cubes of poached rhubarb, the Brazil nuts and tiny shards of toffee. Rhubarb would be fresh and local in season.

Accompanying wine: 2012 Jackson-Triggs Reserve Cabernet Franc Ice Wine with flavours of ripe raspberries, strawberries and rhubarb. Perfect with dark chocolate. ($60/bottle)

Of course the ice wine was a great pairing.

The 15th Jackson-Triggs Amphitheatre Concert Series

I feel like this post is way too long for short attention spans, and yet I feel like you need to know about the Jackson Triggs concert series.

Running June through September, this concert series takes place at the winery’s 500 seat open-air amphitheatre, pairing wine and local food with Canadian music in the vineyard. Local food vendors will be featured at each performance. Guests have the option of attending a four-course candlelit dinner in the Jackson-Triggs barrel cellar. Musicians include Sam Roberts Band, Chantal Kreviazuk, Jann Arden, Spirit of the West, Arkells, Steven Page and more.

I’ve seen Jann Arden in concert and in speaking engagements. Before seeing her in concert my then-roommate, who’d seen her in concert multiple times, informed me that regardless of the size of the venue, Jann has a way of making the space seem intimate, like she’s singing to each person individually. She was right. Jann is amazing in concert and is an engaging speaker. She’s wickedly funny.

Jackson-Triggs events

Jackson-Triggs barrel room

Barrel Cellar

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate
2145 Niagara Stone Road
Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0

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