Here is the truth: there are some wineries that you hope you’ll like the wine just because you love the owner. And then you have to morally decide if you speak the utter truth, or you disguise your dislike so as not to devastate someone so proud of their creation.
In this case, I can confirm that not only do I adore Jim Baker (owner and winemaker at Chateau Niagara Winery in Newfane) and his passion for wine, but the wine is unique and equally enjoyable. However, what your get at Chateau Niagara Winery is not just a tasting, but a lesson in history, geography, and stories that will make each sip special.
Red wine on the Niagara Wine Trail is tricky. While this area is not known for big red wines and the sweeter varietals are still preferred by much of the region, there are a few wineries going out on a limb in an attempt to give big, red wine lovers (like ourselves) a bottle to really sink their teeth into. Fortunately, Jim has spent a decade researching exotic red varietals (such as Saperavi, Turan, Blaufrankisch and Feteasca Neagra) and perfecting a Cabernet Franc which stands tall among NY Cabs, recently earning Gold in the 50 Best NY Cabernet competition.
While Cab is King at Chateau Niagara Winery, the Hungarian blend Bull’s Blood is what will catch your attention. An entirely different profile, we snagged a bottle of that and can’t wait to pull it out against our other domestic blends. We can also recommend that everyone try the Kagor, a rich and sweet dessert wine that will immediately earn a place on your shelf, as it did ours.
What we thought would be a quick trip to Chateau Niagara Winery turned into an hour and a half of lovely conversation, delightful wine, and an excitement for this area that only served to fuel our own desire to see everyone grow and succeed. Jim and Kathy Baker are the quintessential example of turning passion into reality on this trail, and we are thrilled to have had the pleasure of a lengthy visit, which will certainly not be the last.
For hours, a wine list, and a bit of their story, make sure to check their website. And then let us know when you are headed there so we can join you! Thanks Jim for a fabulous visit- cheers!