The world’s oldest, and simplest, rule of running a business has been reintroduced to the world of wine, thanks to Grapemasters. "We actually ask the client what they want before the wine is made", explains Charles Fajgenbaum, owner and consulting winemaker for Grapemasters.
Every year, we survey our clients, and ask them the types of wines they want in their cellar and on their tables. We combine this with our own insights, and search out the desired grapes from vineyards where Mother Nature has been kind. Because we don't own vineyards, we have the flexibility of buying different grape varieties every year depending on our clients’ preferences, and selecting growing areas where the grapes are thriving."
Many wineries do not have this option - if they own vineyards or have long term
contracts with growers, they are obliged to live every year with the same grapes and
put up with the vagaries of Mother Nature. As well, because of the many years it
takes to grow new vines, it is difficult, if not impossible, to alter production on a yearly
basis to take into account new trends and wine drinkers’ preferences.
“We are calling this year’s offerings “The Seven Virtues (and one little sin)”, as our
service, and the wines people can make with us represent what reinventing a winery
should be all about, striving for what is best in all of us, through transforming grapes
Offerings include Gewürztraminer (Purity of Soul, for its natural fruit character,
unadulterated with oak barrels), Monterrey Chardonnay (Giving rich complex flavours
across the entire palate), Viognier (Modesty for such an extraordinarily delicious
grape for winemaking that is not as well known as it should be), Old Vine Zinfandel
(Self Restraint as these 60 year old Amador County vines are not trellised for
support and must control themselves), Cabernet Sauvignon (Charity as it combines
layers of fruit, tannin and acids into flavours that keep on giving), Shiraz (Admiration
because of its ability to grow well and be a top tier grape of so many different
countries) and Tempranillo “Ripasso” (Initiative for the inventiveness of fermenting
Tempranillo, then having it do extended maceration on Cabernet Sauvignon skins).
One Little Sin is Organic Baco Noir. Sourced from the Niagara Escarpment, it
produces a deliciously dark, beguilingly fruity red.
"I am most excited about Viognier - I believe that it is poised to become the next cult
classic grape. That is one thing that we love to do - uncover and help popularize
exceptional grape varieties that are lesser known to the general public, but are stars
in their own right. Last April, we introduced Carmenere from Chile to our clients,
and it is getting rave reviews."
As for One Little Sin? Baco Noir – when grown to be at its best, is a spectacular
wine, and one that will be the grape that puts Niagara on many a wine-lovers map.
Grapemasters is the brainchild of Charles Fajgenbaum, a national medal winning
winemaker, well respected in the world of wine. The coming fall harvest grape
availabilities are the third major endeavor of Grapemasters this year. In the last 6
months, Grapemasters sponsored the Greater Toronto Open Wine Competition,
which pitted amateur wines against commercial entries averaging almost $20 per
bottle. The result - amateur wines won 7 of the 8 categories, with wines entered by
Charles scoring 4 silver and 3 bronze medals. Last April, Grapemasters trucked
Carmenere, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Shiraz and Chardonnay grapes up
from Chile. The coming ‘Seven Virtues” harvest in California and Niagara is the 3rd
major event for Grapemasters.
"We have grown every year and are able to accommodate new clients for Harvest
2007. We treat each client as an individual. We explain to them the various choices
they have in the winemaking process, and how these choices can help tailor a wine
to their tastes. We even have 'Wine School", where we do formal presentations
about wines and winemaking to corporations and groups. It is just amazing to see
people gain a greater understanding about wines, and why they like them."
Currently operating at 276 Danforth Avenue, a second, larger location is on the verge
of being finalized.
Clients are taken on a first come first serve basis, with reservations being taken
now. “We generally have grapes available till mid October, but the earlier people
make their reservations, the better. We only bring in certain quantities of each grape
and when they are sold out, they are gone.”