Wine Reviews

Some of the recent published reviews about our wines, vineyards and location.

Rockway Brut Cuvee

"Rockway’s first foray into traditional method bubbles is a winner from start to finish; it’s a blend of 67% Chardonnay and 33% Pinot Noir aged 32 months on lees, has a crisp entry and wonderful finish – but let’s start here: citrus and acidity in the form of lemon and green apple, there’s hints of a creamy texture on the mid-palate before the acidity sweeps in cleaning things up and giving way to a long finish that hits all the right notes. . ."

**** Four Stars, Michael Pinkus

2016 Small Lot Sauvignon Blanc (VQA)

"Occasionally a wine comes along that over-delivers for its price, and once again the folks at Rockway, and winemaker David Stasiuk, make that list. This Sauvignon Blanc offers up grapefruit, lime and hay notes along with tinges of tropical fruit that drop like bombs on the tongue, plus there’s a lovely long finish; and all at an affordable price. ."

**** Four Stars, Michael Pinkus

2012 Wild Fermet Red

"An equal blend of four grapes: Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wild fermented for character (that’s what wild ferment brings to wines). Aromas are very red fruit dominated, especially by raspberry and cherry with hints of blue and black fruit sitting in the background.  Palate is also quite fruit driven, both red and black with nice acidity and tannins on the finish.  Should age nicely for 7 years or enjoy it now in a nice big Bordeaux-style glass to get the full effect of all that red and black fruit."  

**** Four Stars, Michael Pinkus

2016 Staterra Red

"An equal blend of four grapes: Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wild fermented for character (that’s what wild ferment brings to wines). Aromas are very red fruit dominated, especially by raspberry and cherry with hints of blue and black fruit sitting in the background.  Palate is also quite fruit driven, both red and black with nice acidity and tannins on the finish.  Should age nicely for 7 years or enjoy it now in a nice big Bordeaux-style glass to get the full effect of all that red and black fruit."  

***1/2 Three and a half Stars, Michael Pinkus

2013 Small Lot Merlot

"A spicy/earthy red with cherry, cassis and leather notes on the palate. The red fruits are more evident on the palate to go with a range of savoury spices and balanced by firm acidity."

88 Points, Rick Vansickle

2013 Small Lot Cabernet Franc

"A nose of concentrated black cherry, licorice, raspberry, herbs, cedar and a range of savoury spice notes. It's lush and quite rich on the palate with structured tannins and penetrating red fruits, stylish oak spices and generous acidity."

91 Points, Rick Vansickle

2013 Small Lot Syrah

"Put this red in a carafe for a half hour and then experience a complex mix of coffee, pepper, earth, blackcurrant, plum, leather, game, vanilla. Mid-weight and ready to go with rosemary and garlic rack of lamb."

88 Points, Evan Saviolidis



2014 Wild Ferment Chardonnay

"This displays stunning purity of fruit, balance, structure and charm—huge kudos to Rockway winemaker, David Stasiuk. Hand-harvested fruit was whole-cluster pressed, racked off coarse lees into French oak barrel where fermentation and malolactic conversion were followed by 7-months oak aging with lees stirring before bottling. Aromas of baking spice and orchard fruit give way to a gorgeously textured and complex medium-bodied river of pineapple, lemon-lime and quince jelly. Pour alongside roast pork tenderloin."

***** Five Stars, Vic Harradine

"A medium body Chardonnay, which shows great poise. Peach, green apple, pear, citrus, honey and vanilla are built on a creamy texture and excellent length. Without a doubt, this is a wine that requires lobster or Alaskan king crab with drawn butter."

90 Points, Evan Saviolidis

2013 Vidal Icewine

"Huge peach, honey, sponge toffee, toast, candied pear, bergamot and candied lemon are present on a concentrated frame. Vibrant acidity tidies up any heaviness and the final carries long."

91 Points, Evan Saviolidis

2014 Small Lot Riesling

"Rockway continues to shine under winemaker David Stasiuk. Taught and racy, this wine serves up peach, lime, pink grapefruit, mineral and white flowers. There is some residual sugar, but the brisk acidity gives the impression of a dry wine. Excellent length and a match made in heaven with sushi."

90 Points, Evan Saviolidis

" A gorgeous nose of fresh-squeezed lime, grapefruit, wet-stone minerality and summer peach. This is loaded with juicy fruit on the palate and made in a less austere style than previous vintages and combines citrus, apple and pear with a touch of wild-flower honey all balanced by fairly healthy acidity. Great job here."

91 Points, Rick Vansickle

2013 Red Assemblage

"Supple and generous with attractive black plum notes. This wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. Very nice quality and taste for the price. Try it with grilled chicken or pork chops."

88 Points, Natalie Maclean

2013 David Hearn Limited Edition Red

"A nose of warm dark fruit, cherry pie and array of expressive oak barrel spices. Quite ripe on the palate with notes of black currants, cherries, cassis, a range of integrated spice and delivered on a bed of smooth, soft tannins."

89 Points, Rick Vansickle

2015 David Hearn White

"Taking its cue from both the Chardonnay and Riesling, this first effort from Hearn and the winemaking team at Rockway Vineyards is a nice, refreshing blend with a nose of citrus, apple, peach and just a touch of ginger. It's friendly on the palate with flavours of grapefruit, white peach and mineral with fresh and lively citrus on the finish."

88 Points, Rick Vansickle

Reviews from Susan Desjardins

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Reviews from Jason Solanki

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Latest Reviews from Gord Stimmell

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2012 Small Lot Cabernet Franc

"Subtle light floral notes merge with red and black berry, cocoa and classic pencil shaving aromas on this value-laden red. Dry, medium-full bodied, it showcases a beautiful velvety texture, supple yet powerful tannin paired with fresh acidity framing tasty raspberry and black berry fruit. Notes of cocoa, spice and an earthy quality add complexity through the dry, savoury finish. Serve with herbed leg of lamb."

4 1/2 Stars, Susan Desjardins

"This shows just how good a grape Cab Franc is for Niagara. Dense purple colour with a spicy nose of vanilla oak, blackberries and currants. Medium to full bodied, well balanced and firmly structured with cocoa powder-like tannins."

90 Points, Tony Aspler

2012 Wild Ferment Red

"An equal blend of four grapes: Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon wild fermented for character (that's what wild ferment brings to wines). Aromas are very red fruit dominated, especially by raspberry and cherry with hints of blue and black fruit sitting in the background. Palate is also quite fruit driven, both red and black with nice acidity and tannins on the finish. Should age nicely for 7 years or enjoy it now in a nice big Bordeaux-style glass to get the full effect of all that red and black fruit."

**** Four Stars, Michael Pinkus

2012 Meritage

"Dominated by Cabernet Franc (53%) with the addition of 27% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon. On the nose the red fruit just sings and dominates, but its backing vocalists are tobacco and vanilla, and they hum a very pretty tune. Palate starts off with a silky smooth entry delivering a plethora of fruit along with oak, spice and vanilla … all this is balanced by acidity and the tannins keep all that fruit at bay – plus there's an exceptionally good length on the finish."

**** Four Stars, Michael Pinkus

"Deep ruby red with a black core, this is a big wine that's meant for serious meals. Nose shows black fruit, raisin, plum, and tar. The palate is chewy and rich with big tannins. An impressively bold Canadian red...Decant two hours and enjoy with roast beef."

90+ points, Matt Steeves

"Deep ruby colour; cedar, red and blackcurrants with a sandalwood note on the nose; dry, medium-bodied, rich on the palate with lively currant flavours wrapped in supple tannins."

Score: 89/100, Tony Aspler

2013 Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay

"Straw coloured with a green tint; spicy apple nose with citrus notes; medium to full-bodied with sweet pear, pineapple and lemon flavours rounded with oak. Beautifully balanced with good length and well integrated oak."

Score: 91/100, Tony Aspler

"Rich and buttery with substantial but fine oak, this small lot Chardonnay is also vibrant and focused. Nicely poised and widely appealing with notes of lime, creamy lemon curd, almond, fresh bread and crunchy pear. Wild fermented which may be responsible for a touch of, rather pleasant volatility giving more buoyancy and energy to the wine. Lengthy and memorable."

Score: 89/100, Sara D'Amato

"The palate shows a nice weight and good cleansing acidity with butteryness that wraps around white fruit goodness: apples and peaches with a nice touch of buttered toffee on the finish."

****Four Stars, Michael Pinkus

2013 Block Blend Riesling

"Very pale colour; minerally, grapefruit nose; dry, medium-bodied, grapefruit and lime flavours with vibrant acidity."

Score: 88/100, Tony Aspler

2013 Small Lot Block 150-183 Riesling

"Almost water white; minerally, honeyed grapefruit; off-dry, elegant, lime and honey flavours; great tension between sweetness and acidity; lingering finish."

Score: 89/100, Tony Aspler

"A serious riesling offering from Rockway Vineyards opening with a fresh, clean, mineral nose showing classic varietal character with some Mosel-style influence. Dry and focused with very good balance and notes of key lime, brine and oyster shell with adds some appealing complexity. Tightly-knit acids with flint and pear leading the charge on the finish. Very good value."

Score: 89/100, Sara D'Amato

2013 Fergie Jenkins Series Riesling

"Very pale colour, almost water white; delicate nose of lime, honey, crushed stones with a floral top note; dances on the palate with lively acidity and flavours of grapefruit, lime and lemon."

Score: 90/100, Tony Aspler

2013 Small Lot Gewurztraminer

"Very pale straw colour; light varietal character on the nose – floral, melon; off-dry, good mouth-feel, tangerine and honey flavours with balancing acidity."

Score: 87/100, Tony Aspler

2013 Late Harvest Vidal

"Pale straw colour; a nose of honey and peach with a thread of minerality; medium-bodied, semi-sweet with balancing acidity and a touch of bitterness on the finish which works well to control the sweetness."

Score: 90/100, Tony Aspler

Driving for success at Rockway Vineyards in Niagara: Some vineyards being sold, portfolio trimmed to concentrate on what does best on Twenty Mile Bench

"I had no idea that Niagara's Rockway Vineyards has such a colourful history.

As the only fully functional winery and golf course (and wine museum!) in Canada, Rockway was a dream-come-true for the Strongman family who were able to combine two passions into one — golf and wine — on the Twenty Mile Bench of the Niagara Escarpment."

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Small Lot Wild Ferment Chardonnay 2012

"This impressive Chardonnay spent 10 months fermenting au naturel. This has produced an impressive bouquet of cream, pear, apple, spice, coconut, honey and cream. There is density on the palate, a slight sweetness, a creamy texture and a spice driven finale. I should also add that there is a slight high tone of VA, thanks to the natural ferment factor, which adds complexity. Drink over the next 3 years, preferably with lobster or Alaskan king crab with drawn butter."

Score: 90/100, Evan Saviolidis, Wine Savvy

"...straw coloured; apple nose with a woodsy, white blossom note; richly extracted fruit with green pineapple and sweet lemon notes. Rich and full on the palate. Lovely mouth feel."

Score: 91/100, Tony Aspler

Small Lot White Assemblage 2012

"Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer and Riesling make up the blend of this flavourful Niagara white blend. There is considerable weight here along with a bold aromatic profile. Just slightly off-dry with a lovely hint of fruit spice and lightly baked fruit. Try with roast pork or smoked chicken in a cream sauce."

Score: 88/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

"Really pale colour; stone fruit and honeydew melon aromas lead into a medium bodied, juicy and tasty wine in an off - dry manner; pleasant, pair with ethnic cuisine, light fair, or, just sip on its own."

Score: 88/100, Zoltan Szabo, Wine Align

"...light straw colour; spicy apple nose; mouth-filling, richly flavoured, melon, lychee and tropical fruit flavours, lovely mouth-feel. Somewhere between dry and off-dry. Very satisfying."

Score: 89/100, Tony Aspler

Fergie Jenkins Riesling 2012

"...perfect patio fare with its lime lollipop, peach blossom and jasmine notes."

Score 89/100, Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star

"An impressively concentrated Riesling with mouth watering acids balanced by lush, drippy, dewy fruit. Notes of lemongrass, guava, pineapple, lime and passion fruit make up the ripe, fruit-forward palate that is distinctive of a warmer vintage. A little tension and a touch of mineral make for a rather complex and enjoyable Riesling. Drinking beautifully now to 2018."

Score: 88/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

Small Lot Cabernet Franc 2011

"...mocha, plum, smoky vanilla and blackberry stylings, which is remarkably un-vegetal and herbaceous, unlike so many Ontario Cabernet Francs."

Score: 91/100, Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star

"A solid Cabernet Franc, ripe and pretty with enticing floral notes on the nose and a peppery palate. Clean, ripe and very distinctive. Oak makes a background appearance. Lovely pure expression of fruit. Faint notes of dried herb add to the overall complexity. Very good length."

Score: 87/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

Small Lot Syrah 2011

"...cassis, coconut, regal plum, vanilla bean, graphite, lilacs, black cherry and chocolate complexity."

Score: 93/100, Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star

"Deep ruby colour; peppery, blackberry with a toasted herb note on the nose; Northern Rhône style, medium-bodied, dry, with black raspberry and cherry flavours. Nicely balanced and lots of grip. A lot going on here."

Score: 90/100, Tony Aspler

"A lovely, peppery Syrah with cool climate flavours but certainly not under ripe. Vibrant, medium plus body with harmonious fruit flavours and slightly gritty tannins. Notes of red and black currants...and pepper along with a touch of earth. Nicely composed."

Score: 87/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

Small Lot Red Assemblage 2011

"This traditional Bordeaux blend offers a great deal of substance and charm for a very fair price. Tightly knit, focused with ripe but firm tannins and a great deal of fruit on the full-bodied palate. Long, juicy finish with lingering flavours of red plum, blackberry and vanilla bean."

Score: 87/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

"...deep ruby colour; warm cedary nose of red berry fruit; medium-bodied, dry, very much in petit château claret style, silky mouth feel with ripe tannins."

Score: 88/100, Tony Aspler

Small Lot Gewürztraminer 2012

"A beautifully concentrated Gewürztraminer, surely to do with the hot growing season and resulting low yields. Richly aromatic with reigned in alcohol at (12%) but still with impressive viscosity. Notes of honey, Asian pear, lychee and passion fruit with a touch of white pepper. A slight bitterness on the finish adds refreshment to this traditionally low-acid varietal. Very good length."

Score: 89/100, Sara d'Amato, Wine Align

“Intense aromas of rose water, lychee, smoke, cold cream, honey, mango cream and some hints of spice. On the palate, the wine turns decidedly spicy, with grapefruit peel and Turkish delight notes. There is very good length, a slight sweetness and pleasant acidity. Pair this with coconut curry chicken or a duck terrine topped with a fruit compote."

Score: 88/100, Evan Saviolidis, Wine Savvy

"...pale straw colour; green tobacco leaf, lychee and grapefruit zest on the nose; off-dry, rich and unctuous cardamom, rose petal and honey flavours. Not your usual Gewurz but delicious."

Score: 89/100, Tony Aspler

Small Lot Riesling 2012

"...gorgeous peaches, floral jasmine, lemon meringue and petrol bouquet and rich tangerine, peaches and lime sorbet flavours."

Score: 91/100, Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star

"A succulent Riesling with great character for a fair price. Some tension has been established here through a careful balance of acidity and sweetness. Just off-dry with notes of fresh squeezed lime, lemon drop, pear and mineral. A very competent and characteristic Niagara style Riesling. Very good length."

Score: 88/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

"...very pale with a lime tint; minerally, lime, grapefruit with a floral note and already developing petrol tones; off-dry, honeyed grapefruit flavour with a lime finish. Nicely balanced..."

Score: 88/100, Tony Aspler

Small Lot Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

"...dark ruby-purple colour; vanilla oak, cedar, plum on the nose; medium-bodied, dry, earthy, plum and blackcurrant flavours; sturdy and solid on the palate with a mocha note."

Score: 88/100, Tony Aspler

Small Lot Meritage 2011

"The 2011 Small Lot Meritage... wowed with velvet-textured big black cherry wood, licorice, chocolate, cola, and mocha elements."

Score: 91/100, Gordon Stimmell, Toronto Star

"...deep ruby colour; cedary, sweet tobacco and red berry nose; dry, medium-bodied, well balanced and firm, well-structured with good length and supple tannins."

Score: (88+), Tony Aspler

The Outcast 2011

"...a brash blend of 95-per-cent Syrah and 5-per-cent riesling, delivered rich blackberry, black cherry, spice and mocha in rich profusion."

Score: 90/100, Gordon Stimmell, Toronto Star

"A really lovely and somewhat unusual blend of Syrah and Riesling (5%). Syrah has an affinity for white varietals which tend too boost its aromatic profile and fruit. In fact, one of the parents of Syrah is a white varietal, known as Mondeuse Blanche - perhaps this is why it combines so naturally with white varietals. This version is medium bodied with a lovely opaque colour. Juicy, succulent but not tart or sour. A fine balance has been achieved between the fruit tannins and acidity. Very good length."

Score: 89/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

Wines in Niagara picks of the week: Golf and wine make for the perfect blend at Rockway Vineyards

"Rockway wasn't just a golf club; it was also a winery. How cool is that? Two of my favourite things — golf and wine — all in one location! We immediately signed up our son and couldn't wait to play our first round."

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Rockway Vineyards Patio Pink 2012

"Winemaker David Stasiuk has sculpted a playful vidal, gamay and cabernet blend, made it slightly fizzy at a low 9 per cent alcohol. Strawberry, elderberry and cherry aromas and flavours mingle in a naturally slightly sweet-edged spritely rosé. LCBO #323766 Food suggestion: Melon and prosciutto or serrano ham. Rating: 88."

Gord Stimmell, Toronto Star

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Rockway Vineyards Small Lot Reserve White Assemblage 2011

"With only a few hundred cases produced, this carefully crafted white blend of chardonnay, riesling and gewürztraminer strikes a terrific balance at an easy to swallow price. Effortlessly impressive, this bottle delivers great verve, sensual textural appeal and surprising elegance."

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Small Lot Reserve Cabernet Franc 2010

"Nose of tobacco with some cherry....The palate is much more expressive: tobacco, blackberry, black cherry, smoky and spicy with tannins that hang out along the sidelines adding depth without overpowering."

Rating: 4/5 stars, Micheal Pinkus, Ontario Wine Review

"…nicely balanced by solid freshness accompanied by dried red fruit and spice. Once it's aired out the herbaceous and pencil lead notes express themselves subtly. The oak contribution is well suited with the American oak grippyness and roundness coming from the French oak. Still drinking young, this killer Ontario vintage should see great improvement over the next 3 years. Bring on the thyme and coriander rubbed lamb for this rustic Franc."

Score: 4/5 stars, Rene J Wallis, Sommelier, Brookstreet Hotel Ottawa

Rockway Vineyards Cabernet Rosé 2011

"A simple but well crafted Rose from Rockway Vineyard's redesigned label. This Cabernet Sauvignon/Cabernet Franc blend exhibits inviting aromas of fresh strawberries, watermelon, and lavender. The palate is bright, ripe, juicy and balanced with further jammy berry notes along with pink grapefruit tartness and good weight. A hint of sweetness is notable on the finish of good length. Tidy, clean but also fresh and fun. Try on its own or with shrimp cocktail."

Score: 87/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

Small Lot Reserve Chardonnay 2011

"A very supple, concentrated Chardonnay with very well integrated oak and vibrant minerality. Quite weighty and viscous on the palate with fruit verging on tropical. Clean, sharp, and focused with terrific length. A great buy at under $20 with some short term aging potential."

Score: 89/100, Sara D'Amato, Wine Align

Small Lot Reserve Red Assemblage 2010

"Winemaker David Stasiuk has revolutionized the wines of this golf course and winery. Rich vanilla, blackberry, plum, cedar and mocha harmonize stylishly in this red blend."

Score: 90/100, Gord Stimmel, Toronto Star

Small Lot Reserve Red Assemblage 2010

“High toned aromas of ripe dark fruit, spiced rose and a touch of roasted red pepper lift from the glass of this blend of the Cabernets and Merlot. Dry, on the full side of medium bodied, it's round, smooth, balanced and flavorful. Quite lush dark berry and plum flavors wash across the palate supported by the subtle structure of well integrated tannins and fine acidity. Notes of sweet baking spice and toasty oak garnish the fresh, round, fruity finish. Deftly crafted and an excellent value."

Score: four stars, Susan Desjardins

Rockway Vineyards Patio 9 2011

“This is a spritz style beauty ;made from mostly Vidal and I simply loved this from the moment I unscrewed the cap. It's bright, lively, and bursting with tiny bubbles and citrus, peach and lemon-lime. It's light with only nine percent alcohol, but packs a lot of citrus flavour on the palate against a frame of fresh acidity."

Score: 88/100, Rick Vansickle, Wines in Niagara

Small Lot Reserve Syrah 2010

“Syrah is a tough grape to handle in Niagara. You have to know what you are doing in the vineyard to coax the best out of this Rhone staple. Stasiuk has crafted a tasty and personable Syrah with currants, blueberry, black pepper, cigar leaf and dried figs on the nose. It's a tightly wound red on the palate with blueberry pie, cocoa, espresso bean and some cherry-raspberry fruit through the finish. Try tucking it in the cellar for a few years to see how it will develop."

Score: 90/100, Rick Vansickle, Wines in Niagara

Tony Aspler Rates Rockway Vineyards New Wines: December 3, 2012

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