I recently interviewed Lighthall Vineyards’ winemaker, Glenn Symons. He had a great story about the history of his Progression sparkling wine–a personal favourite–which was too long to include in the original post. I thought it would make a great story all on its own so you can find it below in Glenn’s own words:
I had planted a large number of Vidal vines in 2009, with the intention of developing a late harvest and Icewine line of products from Vidal juice, primarily as an export product. I had an acquaintance that had been importing large volumes of these products into China, and had assured me he would find a home for as much as I could produce. As things go, he fell out of the market in 2010, and my sales channel dried up prior to getting the first harvest off the vines, so I was left with one of the largest plantings of Vidal in PEC without a home for the product.
Around the same time, Hinterland Wine Company was setting up to offer Charmat-method production for other wineries. As it turns out, Vidal carries a marked acidity through late periods in the growing season, which makes it ideal as a base for late harvest and Icewine production (where the acidity helps balance the sweetness of these types of wines). Higher acidity levels also make Vidal juice ideal as a base for sparkling wines! Through fortuitous timing, Hinterland had a spot in their busy production schedule just in time for my first Vidal harvest, so the 2011 Vidal wine (after initial fermentation at LHV) went to Hinterland for Charmat processing, yielding the first vintage of Progression.
It has become one of my most popular products for a number of reasons. First, since Vidal is a very hardy varietal, we often get higher yields when compared to the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir that we grow, and so the cost of production tends to be lower, which allows us to keep the final price of the wine lower than the other more premium products. Second, there is a higher demand for
sparkling wines in the marketplace, with very few producers. Third, Charmat-produced Vidal sparkling allows for the delicate floral and mineral flavors typical to PEC-grown Vidal to shine through, without being lost to bottle-aging with yeast such as with traditional method production. Overall, the Progression is a unique, fun, refreshing, easily quaffable wine, that is available at a very reasonable price, all made from estate-grown fruit. And it is now made from start to finish at LHV.