Explore The Delaine Vineyard by Jackson-Triggs.
Within the rich wine region of the Niagara Peninsula sits the Delaine Vineyards by Jackson-Triggs. It has close to 100 acres of prized fruit land and within the heart of Jackson-Triggs is winemaker, Marco Piccoli.
Piccoli hails from Northeastern Italy, one of the world’s most established wine regions. Focusing his talents on agriculture in high school, he cultivated his skills at local wineries, working up the ranks from cellar hand to cellar management, then assistant winemaker. His technical and experimental knowledge comes into play through the joint Masters Degree in Grape Growing and Winemaking from the University of Udine in Italy and the University of Applied Science in Wiesbaden-Geisenheim, Germany.
Delaine Vineyard is dedicated to providing premium quality vinifera grapes for the Jackson-Triggs’ Niagara Estate winery. This one-time apple orchard now takes a visionary approach to viticulture, producing high-end red varietals, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Syrah. Not without their moment in the sun, it also produces white varietals of Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Semillon.
Since he started in the winemaking industry, one major change involves consumers more than anything. “Generally speaking, people are more aware of quality. They know what they like and what they don’t like,” he says. Coming from a country where wine is a huge part of the country with such a huge history steeped in wine, Piccoli recalls people would simply order a “bottle of white or red” with their expensive dinner. “The transition now is on Chardonnays, Shiraz, Merlot, etc. The more (that’s available) on the shelves, people start asking about the country,” says Piccoli. “I think the biggest change in winemaking is focusing mostly about the quality. It might sound cliché, but it’s a value that’s extremely important because now you’re dealing with an audience that’s way more educated.”
More educated consumers equals more demanding wine drinkers. Piccoli is driven by the knowledge of consumers but also innovation. How wine is made cannot be entirely left behind because of its legacy, but how do you interpret traditions and explain it in the style of the winemaker or as a brand? “ I always try to see things as a consumer first before a maker or producer. What do I like to see when I go to buy something?”
It would be hard for any winemaker to abandon tradition or, rather, impossible. “I’m very linked to tradition. I think that tradition is the key to everything we do in life,” he explains. “That’s what sets the foundation of what we know and what we do today in everything. You cannot ignore it because otherwise it would just be lost. When I go back to Italy and taste wines that are 20 to 40 years old, they’re great wines, but when you think about the quality potential you think they might have been better if they’d known what we learned today.”
Piccoli feels modern and traditional winemaking can easily go together by leaving the backbone based on the traditional method itself but modernize it with your approach. When it comes to crafting more modern looking wines, such as vintages from the Delaine Vineyard, he strives to inspire and motivate the consumer, one that’s always wanting to know what’s new, asking about the vintages, what’s coming next. “That’s why you need to come out with interpretations,” he says. Take a piece of music, for example like Beethoven or Mozart. “None of us have ever heard them play it, we’ve always heard a musician interpreting those songs. It’s interpreted in such a way that one person might like it more than the other,” says Piccoli, adding that it’s the same with wines. “It’s an interpretation of the style. The idea of crafting more modern looking wines is to inspire people to approach tradition in a modern way – to get them interested.”
Delaine wines are, for Piccoli, a perfect interpretation of what the Niagara wine region is. “We have a colder climate, so wines have a higher acidity and they’re also a little bit richer, so you can definitely produce wines that are more inclined for longer aging,” he states, adding that the Delaine Vineyard has always been a good representative of the climate, the area and the soil. “Delaine is the one I’m most proud of,” admits Piccoli. “There’s a lot of flexibility in the vineyard because there are some varietals that have been doing exceptionally well: Shiraz, Vino Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Pinot noir and Riesling to me are one of the best varietals that come from there. The sparkling wine that we make specifically for Jackson-Triggs is very compelling. We have the terroir, the land – everything it takes to produce world-class sparkling wines. I think Jackson-Triggs has done a very good job when it comes to vineyard management and production of the wines.”
For the spring and summer one of Piccoli’s Delaine Vineyards go-to glasses of wine is a sparkling Sauvignon Blanc. “To me it’s great for going to the cottage and you want to start your evening; it’s a good fit. After dinner if I want to sit down and just spend some time with my thoughts, I would probably open a Delaine Cabernet Merlot or Shiraz because those are a little more aged (from 2010). They’re a little bit richer. You sip them slowly.”
Another exceptional offering by Jackson-Triggs is the open-air amphitheatre. Each Summer Concert Series showcases well-known musical acts and pairs excellent wines with great music. Piccoli says the perfect paring isn’t just food and wine; it’s food, wine and a moment. You can have the best wine, but if the moment isn’t good “you’ll enjoy nothing,” he says. “The amphitheatre is not the approach of making wine but how to enjoy wine. I think it’s genius because you engage a different audience as well.”
Although winemaking itself is steeped in tradition, Piccoli maintains that because the Niagara winemaking industry is still quite young, it’s the people now who are creating what will eventually be the traditions here. “It’s nothing compared to the legacy of many other wine regions. So we are the creators. We’re the ones as producers that are setting up the milestones for what traditional winemaking in Niagara will be.”