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INDUSTRY: Ann Sperling named Winemaker of the Year, recipient of Riedel Award

November 22, 2021
Celebrated Canadian winemaker in Ontario and BC recognized for fine wine production on global stage by the Cambridge Food & Wine Society

Southbrook Vineyards – Canada’s first certified organic and biodynamic winery – is proud to announce that Ann Sperling, director of winemaking and viticulture, has been named Winemaker of the Year 2021 by the prestigious Cambridge Food & Wine Society and is the recipient of the coveted RIEDEL Award.

The Society recognizes achievements made in the global wine industry and the creation of fine wines around the world and has in the past recognized such luminaries as Robert Mondavi, Miguel Torres, Lamberto Marchesi de Frescobaldi, Eduardo Chadwick and Sandro Bottega, among others.

Read Also: Ann Sperling: A winemaker with a clear vision of the future

Ann Sperling’s wines, including Southbrook Vineyards’ Poetica and Estate series, and those of Sperling Vineyards in the Okanagan and her iconic Versado wines in Mendoza, Argentina are considered by international wine writers to be among the finest in their respective regions and are widely acknowledged on the world stage. Ms. Sperling has consistently been one of the most enthusiastic promoters of Canada’s wine industry, is a pioneer of organic and biodynamic wine production and has helped achieve international recognition for the country around the world.

Ann Sperling

Ann Sperling is the 2021 recipient of the Riedel Award.

The Cambridge Food and Wine Society of Canada is an organization co-founded in 1998 by Professors Leo Chan and Gian Paolo Michelini. This year’s award was formally announced and accompanied by comments from Laetizia Riedel of the illustrious Austrian wine glass manufacturer recognizing Ann for her commitment and passion, honouring “nature and soil surrounding the vines.” Impressively, and acknowledging Ann’s love of animals and horses, RIEDEL honoured the winemaker with an intricate decanter featuring a hand-blown horse head and the inscription “Riedel Award 2021”.

“It’s an honour to receive this important award,” said Ann Sperling. “In our relentless pursuit of great winemaking, we have learned the high value and relevance of organic and biodynamic viticulture, and this has instilled in us a deep respect for the soil, water and ecosystems upon which great wine, and our planet, relies. I am delighted to be recognized for these efforts.”

“Ann’s passion, knowledge and skill set are evident across every aspect of her work, and more important, in every glass of her wine. We are proud to have her lead our team at Southbrook,” said Bill Redelmeier, founder & proprietor, Southbrook Vineyards. “This award acknowledges her many unparalleled achievements in winemaking.”

A woman rooted in the land

Considered a leading force in the Canadian movement to organic and biodynamic fine winemaking, Ann has over three decades of experience in winegrowing, winemaking and consulting for successful winery start-ups. She prefers to think of herself as a “winegrower” instead of a winemaker. Her vineyard-centric ideology is passionately applied to every facet of Southbrook’s winemaking philosophy, including its organic and biodynamic grape-growing practices, and gentle handling in the winery. Ann’s roots are deeply embedded in the terroir of winegrowing. Raised on a family vineyard in Kelowna, BC, Ann began early on recognizing, developing and appreciating the fine balance within the characteristics of the fruit and its effects on wine.

Better grapes, better wine, better world

Southbrook Vineyards grows wine grapes on a 150-acre diversified farm — including Linc Farm meat and wool products — in the heart of the Niagara Peninsula, producing wines that express the taste of their place. For Ann, winemaking is a constant sensory create-and-evaluate process. It is borne out of respect for each batch and for what the wine is yearning to express.

Southbrook Vineyards

Southbrook Vineyards.

Southbrook strives to produce the best quality wines possible, 100% hands-on, in small batches and barrel lots while allowing a long development time for each wine before its release. This furnishes a truly flexible palette for artisanal winemaking and guarantees customers an unparalleled bottle each time. Southbrook has built a solid reputation for its strict adherence to biodynamic and organic winemaking, with certifications including those by Demeter, Ecocert Canada, LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), Sustainable Winemaking Ontario, and VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance). The winery gained additional recognition for cutting its electricity consumption by 80 percent with the installation of a photovoltaic field as part of its larger commitment to sustainability with a widely recognized, ongoing energy reduction program.

Founded in 1991, Southbrook Vineyards is the epitome and evolution of co-owners Marilyn and Bill Redelmeier’s love story with wine, the land, and all things local. The winery produces a range of red and white organic and biodynamic wines that continues to earn recognition from critics and consumers alike, including the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wine. They produce a wide variety of wines – Poetica, Estate, Triomphe, Connect Organic, and dessert wines — all possessing their own unique character, offered in a range of prices to suit any situation.

Southbrook has taken the responsibility to engage fully in a sustainability program. Third-party endorsements such as LEED® Gold for architecture and Intervin Winery of the Year for wine quality, along with those certifying biodynamic and organic practices, affirm the Redelmeiers’ goal to lead by example and serve to inspire others to make a commitment to sustainability, pursuing their passions and creating fine wines. For more information visit www.southbrook.com, and @SouthbrookWine.