NC’s Gastronomy Chardonnay earns 2019 Lt. Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines

Gavin Robertson, winemaker at the Niagara College Teaching Winery is pictured with a bottle of the award-winning wine, 2017 Gastronomy Chardonnay. Niagara College photo

Niagara College press release – The awards keep pouring in. The Niagara College Teaching Winery shone at the 2019 Lieutenant Governor’s Awards for Excellence in Ontario Wines, with NC’s 2017 Gastronomy Chardonnay making the shortlist of just 11 winning wines.

This is the second award for the student-crafted, barrel-fermented chardonnay from the College’s on-campus estate vineyard (St. David’s Bench), which won gold at the 25th annual Ontario Wine Awards this June for the Oaked Chardonnay Award Under $20 category.

The Hon. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, presented the awards at a ceremony on June 24 during the 4th Annual Winetario event at George Brown College. The NC Teaching Winery 2017 Gastronomy Chardonnay was a standout win among big names in wine for overall excellence, regardless of vintage or varietal, including Peller Estates, Jackson-Triggs, and Trius. The winning wines were chosen from 542 wines submitted by 78 wineries. The variety was created for Les Marmitons Niagara, a gastronomic and social club of men who share a common interest in food, wine, and the culinary arts.

“All of you have made remarkable wines, and each is richly deserving of these awards,” said Dowdeswell in her opening remarks. “And how wonderful it is to see the Niagara College Teaching Winery in the winners’ circle this year! Not only are you pioneers of education in the field of winemaking in Ontario, but your students are already making good on their promise. Your achievement bodes well for the whole industry.”

Steve Gill, general manager, Niagara College Learning Enterprises, attended the award ceremony. “The Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines is a testament to applied learning at Niagara College,” said Gill. “Not only did our students play a key role in producing this award-winning wine from our Teaching Winery, we are tremendously proud of the winemakers behind many of the other award-winning wines who are graduates of Niagara College’s wine programs – including our own Niagara College Teaching Winery winemaker Gavin Robertson.”

‘It’s always great to see our Teaching Winery products do well in competitions because it demonstrates to our students – who are very much a part of our everyday winemaking operations – that the lessons that we deliver in lecture and labs hold true when scaled-up in commercial application,” said Gavin Robertson, winemaker, and instructor at NC’s Teaching Winery. “Our hope as instructors is that this marriage of science and practice provides a sound foundation for our students to enter the workforce and become leaders, producing their own award-winning wines and also contributing to the growth and development of the Canadian wine industry in other significant ways.”

In addition to Robertson, who graduated from the College’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program in 2011, many of the award-winning wineries are staffed by winemakers who are graduates of NC’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program. They include Chris Frey, winemaker at Megalomaniac (2009 graduate), Yvonne Irvine, assistant winemaker at Creekside Estates (2008 graduate), Paul Pender, winemaker at Tawse Estates (2006 graduate), and Allison Findlay, assistant winemaker at Flat Rock Cellars (2014 graduate).

The award-winning wine is available at Niagara College’s Wine Visitor + Education Centre, located at the Niagara-on-the-Lake Campus (135 Taylor Rd., Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON). Proceeds from sales support student learning. Visit