Wine Picks

Shari’s Picks® for June!

Luckily, I have been exploring the Niagara Wine area over the past few weeks and have a few discoveries I want to share!

May began with wine judging at the Ontario Wine Awards. I was on team B at the George Brown Campus in Toronto over two days.

Ontario Wine Awards – Team B

It was a pleasure to participate in this annual event! According to the organizers, well over 400 wines, valued at over $22,000, were judged. The Ontario Wine Awards will be announced June 10.

Ontario Wine Awards Judges

The following week, I met Jeff Moote, the founder and winemaker behind DIVERGENCE Wines. His wines received many positive comments from my fellow wine judges, so I decided to visit him. I tasted a selection of his wines and have to agree.

Jeff Moote and a collection of his DIVERGENCE wines.

Jeff is up-and-coming! Jeff is an engineer who chose to change careers and enrolled in wine courses. He learned as much as he could while he interned at local wineries. In 2020, Jeff decided to go it alone and began DIVERGENCE Wines. During my visit, I tasted many wines. His 2021 Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Viognier stood out (luscious, $35), and his 2022 Twenty Mile Bench VQA Gamay Noir (juicy and rich, $28) was another highlight. DIVERGENCE is a small virtual winery with a small production of about 1000 cases. He wants to double production in the future but is committed to being “hands-on from start to finish.” His wines are available at select restaurants, Marynissen Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake and online at I found the price-to-value ratio excellent and recommend his wines. His back labels stand out. They concisely provide a lot of detail about the wine in the bottle.

DIVERGENCE Wines consumer friendly and detailed back label of
2021 Viognier, Mazz Vineyard. $35.00

I was introduced to the Dobbin Estate Winery on Twenty Mile Bench during another visit. Dobbin Estate is a winery project led by the transformative team of Ann Sperling and Peter Gamble. The unique setting of the winery is spectacular, one of the nicest I have visited, and the wines are premium.

The gorgeous tasting tower at Dobbin Estate Winery.

I tasted with five other wine lovers, and we all agreed that each wine was delicious. The 2019 Twenty Mile Bench VQA Dry Riesling, with its rich, forward aromatics and a soft lingering finish, was outstanding, so I bought a magnum! The 2019 Twenty Mile Bench VQA Chardonnay also stood out with its rich (not overpowering), silky and integrated flavours. Tastings are by appointment only and paired with delicious snacks. To purchase wines or to plan a visit, go to

Tasting in the Tower at Dobbin Estate Winery.
In order: 2019 Chardonnay ($75); 2020 Cabernet Blend ($80);
2019 Dry Riesling ($60); 2019 Riesling ($65)

I discovered Black Bank Hill wines on another visit as a few friends decided to celebrate Chardonnay Day. Established in 2017, Black Bank Hill is a small craft winery in Beamsville, Ontario. I recommend the 2021 Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Chardonnay (medium-bodied, fresh, balanced with toasty aromas, $40) and the 2021 Lincoln Lakeshore VQA Syrah (full-bodied, balanced with blackberry flavours, $50). The wines are available at

Black Bank Hill 2021 Chardonnay Lincoln Lakeshore VQA. $40.00

I also tasted a delicious Chardonnay from Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery. Named after her great-great-grandfather, Elisha’s Chardonnay, Niagara Penninsula VQA 2019 is luscious, well-balanced and complex with melon, apple and nutty flavours. Sue-Ann made 100 cases. It is available at for $24.95.

If you want a versatile, smooth and dry red wine to pair with your BBQ meats, try Chateau Puyfromage 2021. It is widely available at LCBO and comes from the classic red wine region of Bordeaux. It has a deep colour, a nose of black cherry, earthy flavours, soft tannins, and balanced acidity. Serve Chateau Puyfromage 2021 with BBQ beef, lamb, duck, grilled mushrooms, and Comte cheese.

Chateau Puyfromage 2021| Bordeaux, France | Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc | 750 mL | alc  13.0% | sugar 3 g/L | cork finish | LCBO +33605 | $18.95

Since June is typically a month of weddings and graduation celebrations, a crowd pleasing and affordable rosé sparkling wine is Cono Sur Sparkling Rosé, which costs $16.05. It is popular with many of my friends, and my daughter selected it for her wedding. Her guests enjoyed it so much that we almost ran out! I like it, especially for its low sugar content. Serve Cono Sur Sparkling Rosé as an aperitif or with various appetizers, sushi, salads, spicy foods, and goat cheeses.

Cono Sur Sparkling Rosé | Pinot Noir | BÃo BÃo Valley, Chile | 750 mL | alc  12.5% | sugar 7 g/L | cork finish | LCBO +365205 | $16.05

I hope you have an exciting June!


Shari 🥂

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