The Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock broke out the long-stemmed glasses for Wine Wednesday, during an organized wine tasting hosted by Eugene Mlynczyk, a Master of Wine candidate and strategic accounts manager of Vintages and Constellation Brands, on Feb. 4.
Wines were featured from across the Niagara region, as well as Okanagan Valley in British Columbia and others from California within the 2010 to 2014 period. The selection also featured a variety of grapes, attracting both students and connoisseurs from all around southern Ontario.
Attendees were treated to a dozen different wines, as well as the insight and knowledge that comes with being an industry professional guest speaker, such as Mlynczyk. Guests were invited to explore and taste the subtle flavours of the different wines, carefully sniffing and tasting to experience the full body of the drinks.
“Being in the heart of the Niagara region sets us apart from other universities,” said Paul Van Der Merwe, third- year Oenology and Viticulture student and organizer of the wine tasting.
“We get to use the geography to our advantage since Brock is the only school in the country that offers a full Oenology and Viticulture degree for students.”
All proceeds from the event were donated to the Red Roof Retreat, a foundation that dedicates itself to providing temporary relief and recreational opportunities for children and youth.
This is the second wine tasting that Van Der Merwe and the Oenology and Viticulture department has hosted, with last year’s event raising approximately $1000 for the Red Roof Retreat.
“I like setting up tastings, and I wanted to support the charity that my family and I have been apart of throughout my entire life,” said Van Der Merwe.
With a relatively small student population in the program (around 50 students), their dedication and knowledge of wine distinguishes them.
Throughout the event, it became clear that a comprehensive understanding of wine and its production is a highly complex and multidisciplinary art, and much less concerned with its assumed pretension. It’s far more than just swirling wine around in a glass, as one must have knowledge on local geography, meteorology, chemistry and biology to fully grasp the culture and discourse of the wine industry.
Geography plays a major role in the success of the program at Brock. Due to the close proximity of major international wine producers such as Magnotta Winery and Inniskillin Wines, students are able to participate in cooperative experiences with local vineyards to better understand the everyday procedures that go into producing top quality products.
For Van Der Merwe, his love of wine is sentimental, as it was inspired by his father’s career in the wine industry.
“My dad actually works for Jackson Triggs and Inniskillin, so that’s how I got into it. I was in another program but I didn’t like the direction I was going, so now I am here and I love it.”