The Cave Spring Vineyard is located along a gently sloping terrace of the Niagara
Escarpment overlooking Lake Ontario, in an area known as the Beamsville Bench.
Named for the escarpment’s many caves and mineral springs, Cave Spring Vineyard
benefits from stony clay till soils derived from fragments of limestone, shale and
sandstone, which along with the escarpment’s slope, encourage excellent drainage.
Above the vineyard, a forest on the escarpment brow slowly releases moisture through
layers of limestone into the benchlands below. This groundwater nourishes the vines
from beneath in dryer weather, while contributing to the signature minerality of our
Located in the heart of the world’s wine belt at 43° latitude, our vineyard enjoys a unique microclimate distinguished by moderating lake breezes that collide with the escarpment cliffs. This constant lake-effect air circulation provides optimal conditions year round. In summer, the flow of cool air discourages harmful mildews, while in spring and autumn, warm breezes draw cooler air down the hillside, lengthening the growing season and preventing frost. The same effect protects the vines from the cold of winter.
The 2003 Vintage:
The 2003 vintage began with one of the coldest winters on record, with the cool weather continuing well into May. The wet, cool spring delayed budbreak and flowering. While berries sized early with good moisture in the ground, verasion was later than normal. As a result of late winter and early spring frost, crop yields were greatly reduced. The season finished well with a dry fall and numerous sunny days, adding length to the ripening.
Harvest occurred from October to November —an average of two weeks later
than during previous vintages, with no frost returning to the vineyards until mid-
November. Overall yields for 2003 were down almost a tonne per acre (18 hectolitres/
hectare) for all varietals, creating great concentration and character in the fruit.
Once again, cool climate varietals like riesling, chardonnay, pinot noir and gamay have proven to be naturally suited to the occasionally demanding nature of Niagara grape growing. This, coupled with the unique microclimate of our escarpment location helped us to produce some excellent wines, in what for many was a difficult vintage.
A naturally late ripener, our riesling excelled with the long, dry fall. The 2003 vintage
came in with the lowest pH and the highest, most bracing acidity we have seen. Like the great Mosel wines this vintage has balanced residual sweetness, density, extraction and the potential for excellent longevity.
From the lively, fresh-apple minerality of our Reserve Chardonnay to the spicy, muscatlike character of our Chardonnay Musqué, our estate chardonnays excelled in 2003. With low yields, our estate fruit contributed to wines with excellent weight, good natural acidity and great purity of fruit flavors and varietal character.
Our 2003 pinot noir fruit came in with average yields of less than two tonnes per acre. To ensure optimal quality, all of our estate pinot noir was declassified for use in our Niagara Peninsula tier of pinot noir. This vintage is showing good weight with a smooth and supple texture. A classic cool climate pinot noir, 2003 offers bright aromatics, beautiful red berry flavors and light acidity.
As with all the reds in 2003, we declassified our estate gamay fruit in order to maintain strict standards of quality. As an early ripening grape, our gamay benefited from the warm, dry weather in September and October. The 2003 gamay displays great northern berry, red fruit flavors and enticing varietal spiciness. Despite an overall cooler growing season, the resulting wine shows supple texture and an inviting brightness.
Because 2003 was a particularly challenging year for Bordeaux varietals we made the
decision to declassify all of our estate Bordeaux fruit. With the goal of maintaining the
highest standards of quality, this declassified estate fruit was used to produce our
cabernet franc dominated Niagara Peninsula Cabernet/Merlot blend, as well as our rosé.