"If I've learned anything, it's that you have to work with the season," muses Riverview Cellars Winemaker Angela Kasimos.
"I always want to make great wine. Every winemaker wants to make great wine. But, each year is different. Focus your attention on the higher quality grapes and treat them like spoiled children. Then you're making excellent wine."
Wise words from the young vintner. Fresh from graduation at age 23, Angela jumped into the passenger's seat as Assistant Winemaker at Riverview to help Consulting Winemaker Jamie Evans with the 2006 crush. Today, the keys are hers.
Angela's path to Niagara has been anything but typical. Born in Montreal and raised in St. John’s, she received her BSc in Biochemistry from Memorial University Newfoundland in 2005. Through a senior Food Science class she was exposed to wine production, which prompted her to seek out Brock University's much-acclaimed Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI). Angela would then graduate within 1 year, holding a Certificate in Grape & Wine Technology. She truthfully jokes, "I actually harvested Riesling the same day as Convocation!"
In the past few years, Angela has worked with a variety of challenging harvests: the gift and curse of working in such an unpredictable area. Beyond her practical experience, Angela continued theoretical work with Brock's top viticulturalist Dr. Andy Reynolds through 2007, and stays current by attending specialty CCOVI lectures annually.
Angela’s duties lead her through every aspect of wine production. Her boots are scruffy from hours spent trudging down vine rows, directing leaf-pulling and cluster thinning. Her t-shirts are stained with red wine, a common result of barrel filling, racking, fining, filtering, tank-cleaning, or many of her other oenological responsibilities.
She does, however, clean up to serve customers in the tasting room and lead tours almost daily. Angela feels that getting to know patrons directly is the best way to learn how to improve her wines. "Not everyone's fussy about the same wines. I see lots of people here in Niagara wanting premium, high-end wines, but they aren't the only ones who drink. Some people enjoy lighter wines, and I want to respect their preferences too."
The combination of attention to detail, willingness to experiment, and respect to variety gives Angela’s wines a unique aspect of quality. We at the winery aren’t the only ones to think so. In her first four years, Angela’s hand helped guide 22 wines to medals in Canadian and International competitions. Customers constantly praise her wines’ strong aromatic profiles and delicate structures. As critics begin to turn their heads to the quality of Angela’s bottlings too, she’s fulfilling the promise found in the vineyard.