Organized Crime Winery – what’s in the name? Right away, one may automatically think of ‘mafia’ or ‘black market’, while more in-depth thinking may allude to a ‘stab’ at the LCBO monopoly. Nonetheless, whatever one thinks, the name draws attention and curiosity.
The origin of the name, in fact, is a combination between history and art. As it goes: In the 1900’s, in a nearby town named Jordan Station, there were two Mennonite congregations of which one brought a pipe organ into their church and played it during mass. The members of the other congregation thought that music in the church is unholy, so one night they broke into the church, took the pipe organ and dumped it onto an embankment of the nearby Four-Mile Creek; thus committing a crime of stealing an organ = Organized Crime. (Story was provided to the winery by Jordan Historical Museum)
The Crime Scene
Krystyna Tarasewicz, the winery’s co-owner once an art director, found this story so captivating that she turned it into the winery’s brand, with all of the story’s aspects visible everywhere: the name itself, a sleek website complete with drawings portraying the story and a background music of pipe organ, wine bottle labels each depicting part of the story (due to its artistic uniqueness, the Pinot Noir bottle is featured at San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art) and wine names like the ‘The Mischief’, ‘Pipe Down’ and ‘Download’ (though shall not steal music). As pointed out above, the Organized Crime Winery is truly an Artisanal winery on many depths, not just for the cozy boutique store.
The Boutique Store
In 2000, Jan and Krystyna Tarasewicz bought a piece of land with the intention to have a rural home with a great view and a cultivable parcel from which to sell grapes. The existing cherry and pear orchard was promptly converted into a vineyard, planted with 24 acres of Vitis vinifera including Viognier, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Fumé Blanc and Gewürztraminer – the white varieties; and Pinot Noir (clones 828, 115, 667 and 777 in respective ratios of 2, 2, 1 and 1 acres), Syrah (recently pulled out), Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon – the red varieties. Despite Pinot Gris not being grown on the property, it is a desired variety for the Tarasewicz’s and so is sourced from a different location in the Niagara Peninsula.
Jan, a former veterinarian, has always been passionate about gardening and so when the property was purchased, he scaled up his hobby by filling his days with hard work at the vineyard. Jan and Krystyna love intense wines, so when the decision to make wines was finally made, it was also decided that as a priority, the wines are to have intense fruit flavors. To achieve so, Jan prunes the vines in such a way that every plant has at most 6 shoots, each carrying only 1 bunch of grapes. To further concentrate the flavor, the grapes are harvested later than usual (sometimes well into November), to allow water from the grapes to evaporate – this translates into very low yields of 1 to 1.5 tons per acre.
“If I don’t like my wines, they are not here (in the store)” – Krystyna Tarasewicz.
Though grapes were picked since 2001, they were sold to nearby wineries untill 2006, when the Organized Crime officially became a winery with its first vintage. Though Jan and Krystyna do all the work around the vineyard and the boutique; they sought the help of consulting wine maker Andrzej Lipinski for his winemaking know-how. Andrzej, who has crafted great wines at Organized Crime Winery for 5 years, was not afraid to apply practices unusual for the Niagara Region and utilized the Appassimento process to further intensify the wine’s fruit flavors. In 2012, Ross Wise came on board as the winery’s new winemaker and his expertise focus on Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs – direction in which Jan and Krystyna want to move in.
To ensure quality, the grapes are carefully processed, starting with hand picking at the vineyard. After fermentation and before bottling, the wines are then aged in new or seasoned French or American Oak barrels to add more complexity and structure. On average, the winery produces between 1.5 and 3 thousand cases per year of ultra-premium wine.
Appassimento – a method to increase the flavour intensity of the grapes after they are already harvested. This is achieved by drying the grapes out for couple of weeks under controlled conditions. This method was originally utilized in the Italian region of Veneto for production of bold, full-bodied Amarone wines.
Hours and Tastings
– The boutique store is open from 10 am to 6 pm, Friday to Sunday.
– Tastings are $2/sample, waived if 2 or more bottles are purchased.
Click image to go to the next one
I would like to thank Krystyna for taking the time to tell me the fascinating stories about the winery, as well as for showing me around and letting me sample their products.
For recommended wines that can be purchased at the winery, see http://grapeselections.com/grapeselections/wines-from-wineries/
For other wineries in the Beamsville Bench Appellation
and the rest of Niagara Peninsula see
Location and growing characteristics:
Beamsville Bench sub-appellation has these characteristics important for wine growth: 217 days/year that are frost-free; 1420 growing degree days and precipitation of 544 mm/year. The soil is composed of clay loam and silty loam that contributes towards the wine’s minerality composition.
Note: Values represent yearly averages normal for the Niagara Peninsula; information mentioned here as well as the Appellations map was obtained from http://vqaontario.ca and is used with permission.
The Organized Crime Winery
4043 Mountainview Road,
1 905 563 9802