Southbrook Vineyards rewarded for greening the wine industry

A green wine grape.

A green wine grape. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Niagara-on-the-Lake – The environmentally conscious Southbrook Vineyards in Ontario’s Niagara wine-growing region just received two awards for its ongoing commitment to produce organic and biodynamic wines.

On June 25, Southbrook received the Environment Commitment Award for its Connect family of wines at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) annual Elsie Awards for agents and suppliers. This award recognizes a supplier or trade member who raises awareness of environmental issues, promotes positive environmental action and makes the Earth a better place to live.

Southbrook’s Connect white and red wines are the first general list Ontario VQA organic wines sold in LCBO stores. The wines, which debuted in the summer of 2011, are made from organically-grown Niagara grapes, and the red wine is also certified biodynamic. The lightweight bottles used for the Connect line are sourced from an Ontario bottle maker using recycled glass collected in the Ontario Bag-it-Back program. Weighing less than 400 grams, the bottles leave a smaller carbon foot print when shipped.

Earlier this year, Southbrook received the Innovation Award presented at the Ontario Organic Council’s 2012 annual Organic Awards celebrating the achievement and dedication of growers and producers to provide consumers with the best quality food or wine while protecting Ontario’s ecological heritage.

“Receiving the awards validates our enduring commitment to produce great wines with a sense of place, and our belief in organic and biodynamic grape-growing is essential to that goal,” says Bill Redelmeier co-owner of Southbrook Vineyards along with his wife Marilyn. “Our commitment to the earth and to sustainable business practices govern all our decision making,” he adds. “We strive to sit lightly on the land.”

For Southbrook, the opportunity to offer Ontario consumers a local organic wine choice at a popular price point in LCBO stores brought about a new challenge for the winery. “Based on the success of our Connect wines, we soon realized to build the local organic category in LCBO stores, we would need to set a new goal of increasing the number of organically farmed vineyard acres in Ontario,” says Redelmeier.

To accomplish this, Southbrook Vineyards is helping local grape growers gain their organic certification with a promise to purchase the growers’ grapes for its Connect wines.

Another green innovation was Southbrook’s launch of Bioflavia™, a unique natural health product made of organic red wine grape skin powder that has very high levels of powerful antioxidants. After grapes are crushed for wine production, grape skins and seeds, or the pomace, are left over and usually discarded. The pomace is first put through a complete drying process before the skins and seeds are separated. The grape skins are further dried to a specified moisture level and milled to a fine powder.

In addition to their own pomace, Southbrook purchases pomace from all of the other organic wineries in Ontario to meet the growing demand for the certified organic Bioflavia™ in the Canadian and international markets. The product’s grape skin powder was launched in 2011, while the grape seed oil, the first organic grape seed oil produced in Canada, will be launched this fall. It even caught the interest of Arlene Dickinson, one of the business entrepreneurs on the CBC series, The Dragons’ Den. A segment with Bill and Marilyn Redelmeier pitching Bioflavia™ to The Dragons aired earlier in the spring.