Albrecht Seeger’s vineyard is meticulously managed right down to the finest detail. Those characteristics were observed by judges throughout the 2017 growing season, according to Jim Willwerth, CCOVI’s senior scientist.
That’s high praise for Albrecht Seeger, eighth-generation grape grower in Niagara-on-the-Lake and a sitting member on the Ontario Grape and Wine Research Technical Committee. He won the coveted Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence Award at the 30th anniversary of the Cuvée Grand Tasting on March 23.
Alongside his wife Anja Bertelmann, Seeger maintains a sprawling 150-acre vineyard of premium Vitis vinifera grape varieties and has made viticulture his life’s work. He is dedicated to being a grape grower in Ontario, which he calls “one of the best regions in the world to grow grapes.”
Sponsored by BASF Canada Inc., the award recognizes a grape grower who promotes excellence in vineyard practices.
“BASF believes that we achieve excellence not just by using current practices to their fullest potential, but by looking for new innovations to continuously improve and evolve,” said Scott Hodgins, crop manager, horticulture for BASF Canada Inc. “The Vineyard of Excellence Award provides the opportunity to celebrate others in the industry who do the same.”
The Grand Tasting also honours the talented people who work in the wine industry.
The inaugural Winemaker of Excellence Award winner was Angelo Pavan, chosen for his major contributions to the industry, his commitment to excellence and his mentorship to winemakers across Canada.
Pavan, vice-president, winemaker and founding partner at Cave Spring Cellars, is known for his encyclopedic understanding of viticulture in Niagara. He was among the first in the province to work with numerous grape varieties and was a pioneer in the quest to improve wine quality and sustainability in vinifera varieties.
Pavan is also a founding member and chair of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Standards Development Committee and has played a key role in determining the most suitable winemaking practices applicable in Ontario. As the founding chair of the International Riesling Experience, held in conjunction with CCOVI, Pavan has also been instrumental in solidifying Niagara’s place as one of the world’s pre-eminent Riesling producing regions.
The Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence, presented to the individual or institution that best furthers the aims and aspirations of Ontario’s wine industry, was awarded to Sue-Ann Staff. She is a fifth-generation Niagara grape grower and internationally recognized winemaker who has won some of the most respected wine competitions in the world. Staff worked for several Niagara wineries before creating her own eponymous facility, and Tony Aspler said she has since become an “articulate ambassador for the Ontario wine region on the international stage.”
Thanks to the organizational skills of Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the celebration event attracted a record crowd of 800.