Black Prince Winery & Canadian Vinegar Cellars win Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence

November 29th, 2015 | Posted in event


Ontario Celebrates Regional Agri-Food Innovators

Recipients Recognized at Award Ceremony in Baltimore

Ontario is recognizing and celebrating local agri-food innovators whose ideas and projects are strengthening the province’s agri-food sector.

The regional recipients of the 2015 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence were honoured during a ceremony in Baltimore today for their contributions to the creation of new products, adding value to existing products, supporting a sustainable environment, helping support job creation, and boosting economic growth in Ontario.

Black Prince Winery – Picton

For most winemakers, vinegar is their worst nightmare. Not for Black Prince Winery. In partnership with Canadian Vinegar Cellars, Black Prince’s Geoff Webb is using his grapes for two different purposes. Some go towards making wine, of course, but others are destined for a line of super-premium barrel-aged vinegars. His secret weapon? Reverse osmosis. Several years ago, Webb began experimenting with this process in order to reduce the acidity of his wine. When he teamed up with Canadian Vinegar Cellars’ Pete Bradford, he discovered reverse osmosis could speed up vinegar production, oxidizing and dealcoholizing the wine much faster than conventional methods. The technology allowed them to remove water from the vinegar, concentrating the sugars and creating a beautifully balanced product that has chefs and foodies raving.

IMG_3495Premier's AwardJeffLeal

“Ontario is known for its leading-edge agri-food sector that continues to grow and foster new innovation and ideas. The 2015 Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence recipients demonstrate creative and ingenious ideas and business concepts. By investing in the success of people and a dynamic and innovative business climate, our government is helping drive the sector’s growth and position Ontario for economic success both at home and abroad.”

Jeff Leal

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Black Prince Releases Solera’s Cask – The County’s First “Apera” Aged In 80 Year Old Spanish Sherry Barrels

July 12th, 2015 | Posted in event

Joe Hache – Picton Gazette July 9, 2015

Back in May I led a bus group through Wine County stopping at 5 – 6 wineries. At Black Prince our group had a special sneak peek tasting of a secret nectar – released this Father’s Day!

This 10 year old masterpiece has been aging in giant 80 year old oak Sherry casks straight from Gonzalez Byass in Spain !  Even after a century of use they are as sweet and aromatic as new, thanks to master Cooper Pete Bradford.

“We were very fortunate to find these casks !”, exclaims Pete, “they had been long forgotten, and when I showed them to Geoff (Webb, Black Prince’s Winemaker) he nearly fell-over – but he had the old gold we needed to try to give them a second life.”

It is worth noting that this Sherry is a natural wine that does not need alcohol fortification to achieve its character. Geoff  points to the significant Spanish proportion of the BPW shareholding where he was able to source original recipes, allowing the production of these wines which stand a close quality scrutiny to Amontillado and Oloroso (cream) sherrys.

“It is all about the Barrels”, says Geoff, “that wood had seen so many vintages and was so saturated that when we warmed them up as part of the re-coopering process they literally started to ooze a caramel like substance extracted from their decades of  making Sherry in Spain – that is when we knew we had something very special”.

Once Spain became part of the European Common Market the use of the word Sherry was banned outside of Spain. Australia introduced the word Apera replacing “Sherry” and this word was also adopted by many Canadian producers.

Black Prince ran a contest on FaceBook to help name this wine. From the hundreds of suggestions that poured in SOLERA’S CASK was chosen which represents the traditional method of making Sherry known as Solera – a multi-level stack of Casks which always draw down from the very top Barrel to bottling from the ground level barrels – replenishing from the barrels above.

Solera’s Cask is a County first and available directly from Black Prince – it makes a very fine Aperitif.

A mellow nose with lots of fig. Supple flavors of smokey Sultana raisins lead to a medium off-dry finish of apricot, nut and orange peel. Old Gold, this velvety 10 year old classic is County grapes aged in real Spanish Casks from Gonzalez Byass.Black Prince Winery - Solera's Cask Label Proof copy

Roll Out the Barrel

March 26th, 2015 | Posted in Veronica Leonard
barrel group 2

Roll Out the Barrel

Veronica Leonard

Canadian Oak and other wine barrels have been rolling across Prince Edward County, Ontario, this past year as Pete Bradford moved from his previous location next 66 Gilead Distillery near Bloomfield toBlack Prince Winery  in Picton.

I first met Pete at Taste the County in 2010 when he was giving demonstrations on barrel making. At the time, he was still going through his apprenticeship with a well known Missouri barrel maker Dale Kirby. I interviewed him and his partner Marla at his incredibly cold Carriage House Cooperage workshop in Wellington in December for a story for HornTrip magazine. It was so cold my digital recorder lost the entire interview (or maybe my hands were shaking so much that I pressed the wrong buttons.)

Pete and Marla Bradford at their first workshop in Wellington 2011

Pete is a barrel of man, massively built, strong as an ox, with a mind that is constantly fermenting great taste ideas. He was celebrating that day because he had met with local woodlot owners who had agreed to put aside their oak and other specific hardwoods for him instead of chunking them up for firewood. He’d also got an agreement with an Amish wood mill to stockpile stave wood for him.

He talked about how the wood had to carefully aged, dried and regularly turned over for  three to four years to make it ready to use for barrel staves. He told me about his belief that Canadian wood would make a great oak for Canadian wines, with the concept of Total Terroir: local grapes, aged in local wood, by local winemakers. He also told me about his experiment to make mixed wood,  CHOA barrels, of cherry, hickory, oak and ash. County Cider had purchased two of these barrels already to make their barrel aged iced cider. He sent me off to Black Prince winery to try their Terroir Elite Chardonnay aged in Canadian Oak that had won bronze at the Chardonnay du Monde in France.

Over the intervening years, I have made a point to taste wines at wineries across the County that have been aged in Canadian Oak and the mixed wood barrels now renamed COACH barrels for Canadian oak, ash, cherry, and hickory. I’m a huge fan, as they tend to augment the flavour of the wine rather than overwhelm it.

Carriage House Cooperage at 66 Gilead  Distillery

I am told by winemakers, that because they are a new product they interact differently with the wine than conventional French or American barrels, and the wines have to be closely tested and tasted to find their perfect peak or they can taste a little “planky” if left in too long. However when the winemakers took the right care, they responded well. Black Prince with their Terroir Elite wines, Karlo Estates with its CHOA Chardonnay and County Cider’s Barrel aged Ice Cider have really profited from the unique products they’ve made with these barrels.

Two years ago, I ran into Pete again, he’d relocated with 66 Gilead Distillery and converted the old piggery on the property into a workshop. He was also developing a line of wine and balsamic vinegars in his COACH barrels that would be his own product. Sadly a wet spring had made most of his stored wood unusable until they had properly dried and then a period of drought made it difficult for him to get a permit to toast his barrels over his outside oven for fear of setting fire to surrounding fields. On the positive side, thanks to the connection with the distillery, he was also making contacts with other craft distilleries who were interested in his barrels and his ability to recouper old wine barrels which they wanted to use to age spirits.

I was back in contact with Pete this month for a blog for Bay of Quinte Tourism on a Quest for Canadian Oak designing a wine tour around the wineries, distillery and cidery who sold products aged in Pete’s barrels  only to discover he’d moved and reinvented his business again.

Geoff Webb and Pete Bradford toasting a barrel

A year of family deaths and a serious work accident had made it impossible for him to keep up his barrel making to the regimen he’d set for himself without the help of an apprentice. In the meantime, requests for recoupering barrels were increasing and the gourmet vinegars were really taking off. In addition, the furnishings and gift items he was making out of dismembered barrels were also increasing in demand.

In the summer of 2014, his old friend Geoff Webb at Black Prince Winery suggested he move his business into an abandoned barn on their property in Picton and share their retail space to sell his vinegars and barrel products. The Barrel House and Canadian Vinegar Cellars was born. The weekly toasting of recoupered barrels right on the edge of town brought in residents and tourists alike and increased sales of both their products last summer and fall. Both businesses are looking to a promising tourist season to come in 2015.

No one gets rich quick in the wine industry, and as one of only two wine barrel makers in Canada, Pete and Marla Bradford are blazing new trails. Despite setbacks that would have brought a lesser man to his knees, the ideas fermenting in Pete’s mind just keep getting better and his incredible energy and engaging personality make him one of Prince Edward County’s leading tourist attractions in his own right. Stop in at Black Prince Winery and the Barrel House at 13370 Loyalist Parkway in Picton this summer and be barreled over by the excitement.banner barrel tools 2


Scenes of Sandbanks…and Beyond 2014 – WATER – Original art show and sale

October 6th, 2014 | Posted in art show, event



OPENING on November 1st from 2-5pm

The show will continue November 2 to November 23, 2014 (Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 11am to 5pm)

Black Prince Winery

13370 Loyalist Parkway, Picton

Proceeds from the show will be directed to the Friends of Sandbanks Provincial Park – towards future projects.


Water is the driving force in natureLeonardo da Vinci

The County is surrounded by water, has several lakes, rivers and streams and yet is one of the driest Counties in Ontario.

There can be many themes on Water. It falls in many guises from a gentle Irish mist, to golf ball size hailstones, to drifts of pristine snow. We drink it as is, infused with coffee or Scotch, tea or lemons. We play on it, skating on frozen ponds, swim lengths in a pool, and who hasn’t lobbed water balloons at passing canoes. Water supports and gives life to everything on earth, from water lilies on a tranquil pond to massive hydro electric plants near James Bay.

To that end we are honouring Water in all its shapes and forms. Works of art that celebrate Water and all its incarnations will be presented. Over forty County artists are featured in the show in a variety of media. Acrylic to Watercolour, Embroidery and Quilting, Jewellery and Glass, Ceramic, Stone and Metal.

Enjoy a glass of wine in Black Prince’s Tasting Room and feast your eyes on ‘Water’ in the Art Cellar.

Turning Wine into Vinegar – Not Water into Wine

August 15th, 2014 | Posted in event

Back in June, I had a chance to visit Black Prince Winery to toast the opening of the new Barrel House and local Oak Barrel Works in the renovated Barn.

While we were there Pete and Geoff let me know that the Barn was also being prepped for a unique new venture to be Opening soon…well soon is NOW !

The Grand Opening is this weekend – Saturday, August 16 at Black Prince Winery, but I got the “cooks” tour early – a sneak peek that was a real eye-opener !

Canadian Vinegar Cellars offers local barrel-aged wine vinegars crafted right here in The County by Pete and Marla Bradford and Geoff Webb.

Pete and Marla have already established a cult following for this exciting wine by-product  – quietly making wine vinegars for the last five years on a small scale and aging them in the local oak barrels that Pete makes or re-coopers.

Marla explained that it was time to expand, “ We have worked with Geoff Webb and Black Prince Winery on a number of projects over the years and have a great respect for what they are doing with local wine so it was a natural for us to expand our production right here on the Loyalist Parkway in Picton”

Highly sought after by Chefs and Foodies alike these special vinegars are ideal for marinating and cooking meats and make great salad dressings and even dips !

Vinegar Logo

We tasted some of the vinegars being made from these wines while admiring the oak casks they are resting in. Pete let me in on a secret – the key to making great wine vinegar actually starts with good wine (many people believe that only bad wine is turne

d into vinegar, but not so – if the wine is bad then the vinegar will be bad) so start with a good wine that you want to conv

ert into vinegar and add the very crucial secret ingredient to the process – a good “mother”.

Pete explains that vinegar “mother” is like a sour-dough bread starter and must be cultured and lovingly nurtured over time (and will last for years and get better with age if treated right) – his mother is carefully locked away in a safe room at Black Prince.

Once a wine is chosen to be made into vinegar it is inoculated with the “mother” and placed in a suitable oak barrel leaving a lot a head space (not full). The wine/vinegar is then “bubbled” in the barrel – using air forced through the liquid to evaporate the residual alcohol. This process can take weeks or even months depending on the level of alcohol in the wine that must be eliminated before bottling (by law wine vinegars must contain less that 1.2 % alc/vol. to be sold legally). Pete strives for zero percent ~

While alcohol is being eliminated the natural volatile acidity (VA) in the wine  increases and takes over from the fruit while it turning it to vinegar – all in oak barrels which are at the same time imparting wood flavours and letting the wine vinegar breath and develop over be made into vinegar it is inoculated with the “mother” and placed in a suitable oak barrel leaving a lot a head space (not full). The wine/vinegar is then “bubbled” in the barrel – using air forced through the liquid to evaporate the residual alcohol. This process can take weeks or even months depending on the level of alcohol in the wine that must be eliminated before bottling (by law wine vinegars must contain less that 1.2 % alc/vol. to be sold legally). Pete strives for Zero percent alcohol.

In many ways it is the opposite to making wine, Geoff grins, “We are embracing ideas and practices that keep most winemakers up all night worrying – adding  oxygen and raising the acidity in the wine as much as possible in a half empty wooden barrel would scare the crap out of any normal winemaker”.

The results are stunning ! Canadian Vinegar Cellars at Black Prince Winery has 10 different wine varieties in production including Chardonnay, Gamay, Melon, Pinot Noir and Foch – Pete remembers the first wine vinegar they ever made, “Geoff had 1000 litres of Marachel Foch wine from the Black Prince Estate vineyard back in 2008. It was good wine but a little high in acidity so they were not going to bottle it that year. I knew it would make the perfect base for our first vinegar so we took the plunge. We sold it all out a year later – over 2,500 bottles !”

Pete’s enthusiasm is catching. Since then they have been experimenting with many other grape varieties and other types of wood for the barrels – Cherry, Hickory, Oak and Ash to name a few. In fact Pete invented the first C H O A barrels originally for wine (Black Prince and County Cider both won medals) but has also found that that combination of woods also produces screamingly good vinegars – and the CHOA now accounts for a full line of different vinegars, particularly Chardonnay.

“The barrel-aging of these wine vinegars makes them truly unique – all local, all Canadian products”, says Marla, “We do not know of ANY other production like it anywhere else in Canada, and it is right here in The County !”

This local team has the vision and talent to go far. Already well-known for quality wine aged in local oak barrels it seems a natural progression for them to produce wine by-products like local wine vinegars right at Black Prince. “We may be the first Canadian Vignerons to promote local vinegars. Most people think we are crazy to be developing vinegars on the same premises as a winery”, laughs Geoff, “but if you are careful and sanitary and keep the two productions apart, it actually makes a lot of sense. We are just closing the circle, working with the same basic ingredients – grapes – just in two different ways”.

The results are impressive and I certainly recommend a visit to Black Prince Winery and Canadian Vinegar Cellars – not just for their love of local wine, but now also for the first local County wine vinegars. With names like “Holy Shit”,

“C H O A” and “Gone Fishin” there is something for everyone…with a baguette, some blue cheese and sear-fried mushrooms you are in for a real treat ~ and afterwards you can also enjoy a nice glass of wine !

Check them out this weekend at Black Prince Winery on the Loyalist Parkway right in Picton.

Cooper, Winemaker team together to make some fiery new creations

June 22nd, 2014 | Posted in event

On Father’s Day I dropped by Black Prince Winery to toast the Opening of the new Cooperage and Oak Barrel Works in the renovated Barn. Black Prince General Manager and Winemaker Geoff Webb and Cooper Pete Bradford have worked together and experimented with wood and wine since 2006 on a project by project basis, and have now teamed-up to craft and recondition barrels to age wine in casks of all shapes and sizes made only at this winery in Picton. “It was a natural progression”, smiles Pete, “Geoff and I have had a terrific arm’s length work relationship for years so it was time to team-up and see what we can do together locally at Black Prince”.
This team has already produced exciting results and the winery was busy all day on Sunday with tours and demonstrations of the new cooperage led by Pete and his apprentice Ian Hutchinson.
Sampling the wines aged in these local barrels now made right on the property was a treat indeed and we enjoyed traditional Chardonnay (comparing the same wine oaked and unoaked !), Merlot and of course the Black Prince Cabernet Franc. Geoff and Pete have also experimented with different and unique wooden wine barrels over the years including Pete’s original design C.H.O.A. barrels (Cherry, Hickory, Oak and Ash) that won them a silver medal for their C.H.O.A. Chardonnay (and also won County Cider Gold for Ice cider) at The Royal Winter Fair.
While we were there another secret came out – the Barn was also renovated for a unique new venture Opening in late July at the Black Prince…Caverns Vinegar Company will offer local barrel-aged wine vinegars crafted right here in The County by Pete Bradford and Geoff Webb.
Highly sought after by Chefs and Foodies these special vinegars are ideal for marinating and cooking meats and make great salad dressings. We had a “sneak peek” at the new space already housing many of these vinegar barrels including giant 600 litre Brandy Casks directly from Spain that will be used to barrel-age “brandy” vinegars . We also feasted on a meal of some fresh pulled-pork sliders made using these local barrel-aged vinegar and a super local vinegar BBQ sauce !
This afternoon’s visit was a real eye-opener and shows some of the new and exciting wine trends created by local talent and happening right here in The County. When it was time to leave, with a wink Geoff revealed another “secret project” that will be launched by this new team using some of those magnificent large Sherry Casks later this Fall – so we will have to check back with them soon…
Until then the enthusiasm and energy of Pete Bradford and Geoff Webb burns brightly at Black Prince Winery. Visit them this summer on selected weekends for live barrel making demonstrations, knowledgeable conversation and terrific local wines (and now vinegars !).


June 13th, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized


 We’re SUPER excited for this new adventure with Pete Bradford ~ Come see why ! experience something new


June 13th, 2014 | Posted in event


 We’re SUPER excited for this new adventure with Pete Bradford ~ Come see why ! 

experience something new



Maple-Licious In The County

March 23rd, 2014 | Posted in Uncategorized

In honour of Spring and Maple-Licious in The County Black Prince Winery has released it annual MAPLE FUZION – a white wine infused with local Maple Syrup from Nyman Farms and aged in local oak barrels from Carriage House Cooperage.

AWESOME Untitled-1 WITH MapleCheddar[1]WHAT A PAIR !

Limited Time Only – Available now until its gone….

VISIT the Winery TODAY ~Black Prince Winery, Maple Wine Sign.indd

Here and Now – Inked by Joe Hache in The Picton Gazette

December 19th, 2013 | Posted in Uncategorized

Black Prince was founded by a group of members of The Opimian Society, the non-profit national wine society of Canada whose members co-operatively purchase wines from around the world.

In the early eighties, the group invested in vineyards in California, when real estate was reasonable in Napa Valley, and wineries were springing up and communities were growing.

In 2000, their attention came back to Canada along with the proceeds of the sale of some of those vineyard estates – which would be taxed at 50 % unless re-invested.

Geoff Webb was involved in purchasing and selling bulk wines from all over the world, and was in a position to convince the group to invest in Prince Edward County, not yet well-known for it`s wines but an up and coming grape-growing region, and a beautiful place to live and work.

Pioneering of spirit the group agreed and Webb and some Opimian colleagues invested in a property and planted 10 acres on a 50 acre parcel on the Loyalist Parkway – in the western gateway to Picton.


“Immediately establishing a working winery while planting a vineyard and developing the property was the plan and we had no shortage of talent on the wine-side ,” says Webb.

Californian Winemaker Michael Fallow was recruited by John Sambrook (a founding partner and GM of the Opimian Society whom had known Michael from twenty-five years of winemaking in California – Sambrook retired from his position at the Opimian Society to focus on building Black Prince) in order to help hone Geoff Webb’s skills as Black Prince`s Director of Winemaking.

2002 was the first vintage made at Black Prince, and, although all the grapes were from Niagara, Michael was able to cut his teeth on cold–climate winemaking. In 2003 the local grape crop was declared `short` by the Ontario government,  and all wineries were permitted to import grapes, which suited Michael fine and he made Californian Chardonnay, while Webb experimented with Cabernet Franc, Baco Noir, Chardonnay and Vidal from local County vineyards through 2004 and 2005.

In Spring 2006 Michael fled the Canadian cold for sunny Mendoza (Argentina) leaving Webb with the wine-making duties – a flurry of awards and national attention followed as Black Prince produced some good whites and some really stunning local red wines in 2006 and 2007.


During this time the team at Black Prince also helped a number of other County grape growers aspire to fulfill their dreams, produce wine and establish themselves, including Sandbanks, Hillier Pinot Noir, Del-Gatto Bella Vigne and Harwood, and some of these labels are still available at Black Prince today.


In 2008 Webb turned to Terence Van Rooyen (Head of Niagara College Teaching Winery) for advice with the challenging vintages of 2008 and Terence continued consulting with Webb as winemaker through 2009 and the exceptional and multi-award winning vintage of 2010 – all the time imparting his knowledge and skills while guiding Webb to the next levels of cold-climate viticulture and winemaking.


Webb was very thankful to have had mentors like Fallow and Van Rooyen – two extremely talented winemakers at the top of their game.


“Prince Edward County is still very very young as a wine area”`, he says, “we have made tremendous strides in only 12 years – but I still worry ! ”

“I think there’s going to be a time of reckoning in the near future when we all have to get more cooperative – just like 10 years ago when there were only 5 or 6 of us here working hard together. With over 40 wineries now, the fallout is catching-up to the area which is not large enough or draws nearly enough tourists to support us all year around”, says Webb.


Looking around the Black Prince tasting centre, there are lots of indications of pride and a sense of place in this community. Black Prince is a fierce supporter of local community groups, teams and events.  Locally coopered County oak barrel-aged wines and many single vineyard efforts are in evidence, as well as some blended wines – something for everyone, and the largest selection of wines in Prince Edward County.


“We’re intent on growing, not only the wine production but the entire concept of working and living in a vineyard setting – a sustainable, green community built around a working vineyard was in our plans from the start.  Situating the vineyard in the middle of the property to be accessible from designated walking paths and constructing the pond to be attractive and maintain wildlife for the residents seemed entirely reasonable – perhaps one day even a clubhouse – who wouldn`t want to live in such a natural setting, even help look after the vines – a true community cooperative is what we now want to build”, explains Webb.


Webb continues as General Manager and Director of Winemaking and recently added a medal winning Merlot to the stable of interesting fine wines available at Black Prince Winery or through the LCBO.


And what does the future hold for Black Prince Estates ?

“it`s not a secret”, says Webb, “just wait and see”.


If you’d like to visit Black Prince Winery, they are located at 13370 Loyalist Parkway, Picton, or call 613-476-4888 for more information.