Previously Unexplored Wineries – Kacaba Vineyards and Winery

14 Jun

nov7 093 (2)I say Ka-ka-ba, they say Ka-sa-ba. Before I visited the Kacaba Vineyards and Winery, I was ready for the story of the discovery, on the current vineyard site, of a native North American winery, as “kakaba” in the Oneida language means winemaker. Small challenge to that story is that ‘Kakaba’ wasn’t a famed Oneida winemaker – nor does it mean anything in Oneida parlance. What I did discover was the name of the founder of Kacaba Vineyards, Michael Kacaba. Apparently, the land was saved from a subdivision that: 1) would have surely increased the assessment base in Vineland; but, 2) would have destroyed this lovely small lot winery. So, if you are a Vineland resident and rue the taxes you pay, it’s Michael Kacaba’s fault. But, if you’re a wine lover celebrate the fact that there aren’t any backsplits ruining this vineyard. I’m going with number 2.

Kacaba sits west of Vineland just off King Street (County Road 81). It’s got tons of signage on the road but still might be missed as the winery itself is tucked up over a hill so not visible from the road. I arrived on a big sky, sunny day just before the long weekend – cool but sunny. My last two visits to wineries had the distinct disadvantage of poor weather. I mean potholes, mud, and cold. This was a big upgrade. Memo to Duffswines Management – visit wineries in the summer and fall. You approach the winery building over a simple bridge (a Bailey bridge?) and it has creaks and groans which is kind of endearing. The vineyard that lies adjacent to the winery building is mounded and it all seems like a little tucked away niche in the surrounding area. Not exactly La Tâche but still you feel somewhat surrounded, closed in, which I was told contributes to a bit of an ecosystem for the vines. I didn’t actually whistle, sing, or skip as I extricated myself from my vehicle (closed circuit cameras and youtube being what they are) but felt pretty upbeat and ready to swirl, sip, and spit (well, maybe no spitting).

The winery (picture above – courtesy of the winery) is a nifty little red and white building that’s sparkling and presents as simple and inviting. And, inviting it was – I was welcomed by Holly and Sasha. I’ve said it before but will risk saying it again, “the winery staff in Niagara are engaging and informed. Ready to talk your ear off about their wines or just let you quietly go about your business.” This is a real tribute to the industry’s growth and sophistication, and, in this case, to Holly and Sasha themselves.

So, what to taste? I tried a bunch on staff’s suggestion but want to focus on just three for this post. Given it might as well be summer already, the first is the 2011 Rebecca Rosé @$14.95. This has a sweeter profile than the Tavels and Provence wines that I have been pushing. I’m not sure there’s a whole lot more residual sugar but it’s heavier, rounder somehow. Now, that said, I loved it! It was like drinking a tart strawberry and rhubarb pie – the earthiness and fruit of the strawberries and the tartness on the finish of rhubarb. I brought a few back home for days on the dock – maybe late in the day particularly with food.

Moving on and stopping at their 2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay @22.95. In my home, chardonnay rules the white wine roost and oaky, buttery ones have ultimate status. If I even think of splurging on a wine pour moi (see Cab Franc below), I better include some consideration of one of these chardonnays for Arlene. Along those lines, this wine did not disappoint. It had all the requisite creaminess but still had some backbone – enough acid and fruit to carry this wine. I might even suggest that it could age a bit. And, that means more than one!

Several months ago I posted on a Kacaba pinot noir. and, the reds at Kacaba seem to be attracting much loftier attention as evidenced by their many awards, including, drum roll please………….a gold just this year, from Decanter – the 2010 Reserve Cabernet Franc. Well, I’m not talking about that vintage except to say that I thought it was really closed and inaccessible for an amateur like me – in the years ahead, I’m trusting that the medal was well earned – just too soon for me to tell what things might become. I did try the 2007 Reserve Cabernet Franc @$44.95 as well. This wine is no slouch in the accolades department winning at Cuvee in 2011. Now, the 2007 wine is accessible – still maybe benefiting some time in bottle, glass or decanter to get maximum enjoyment; but, I’m loving it now. Cabernet Franc does well in Niagara for a reason I’ll leave for another post (read: I have no idea why) and may be the best Bordeaux varietal to go solo from here. The 2007 had a ton of spiciness and dirty fruit that might put some people off but not me. I’m going to put this down below until at least 2015 to see what develops.

nov7 111 (2)“Why do we go to wineries, Bill?” Well, we go to wineries for the experience of seeing where our wines are from, talking to people involved in making them/dedicated to the task of crafting wine, and hearing the story of the place. Kacaba is a great experience on all those levels. Staff enthuisiastic and knowledgeable about their stuff. The tasting room is small but bright and you’d get the feeling that you’re not one of the hordes. I got that feeling because, well, I was the only one there, nary a single horde in sight! I’ll go out on a limb and say that they don’t have tour buses. They have a semi-covered patio (picture at left) where you can buy by the glass and enjoy with artisanal cheese trays. Sitting out among the vines, sipping the wines and nibbling cheeses procured from Upper Canada Cheese down the road. How cool is that? And, being up over the hill isolates the experience from any road noise or dust. I’m going to make a point of stopping in there again and suggest that, if you’re doing the Vineland area, you do the same. You might even see the legendary ghost of the eponymous Oneida winemaker.

3 Responses to “Previously Unexplored Wineries – Kacaba Vineyards and Winery”

  1. savorencyclopedia June 15, 2013 at 4:27 am #

    Sounds like a great experience! Thanks for sharing.



  1. Previously Unexplored Wineries – Pondview Estate Winery | Duff's Wines - January 8, 2014

    […] to places I’m interested in knowing more about.  The other visits are chronicled here: Colaneri, Kacaba, […]


  2. (Not Really) Previously Unexplored Wineries – Flat Rock Cellars | Duff's Wines - October 31, 2014

    […] Kacaba, Megalomaniac, Pondview, Colaneri, Sue-Ann Staff, Westcott […]


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