Niagara, ON Wine and Design Tour 1/4: MEGALOMANIAC (John Howard Cellars of Distinction)


Just came back from yet another wine tour to Niagara, this one focused on the design and architecture of wineries. As such, the presenters spoke about the decisions they made in designing and building their wineries, all of which were unique and quite varied. Our first stop was the unique Megalomanic (John Howard Cellars of Distinction).

Megalomaniac was founded by former Vineland Estates founder and owner John Howard who decided to hold onto his favorite vineyard property in the Beamsville Bench which sits on a rolling limestone hill that is strikingly visually reminiscent of similar properties I’ve seen photos of from Chile, Portugal, Argentina and California. You can see beautiful pictures of this on the Megalomaniac wine website.

John built the winery into the side of the hill which uniquely allowed him to have a ground level winery with underground cellar conditions. As such, his winery is quite literally one very large rectangle where the tasting bar sits right beside the fermenting tanks which sit right beside the barrel area with no divisions in between. Only the guest washrooms and store boutique are separated off to the immediately left of the entrance.

John’s initial plan was simply to keep the beautiful vineyard and farm the grapes but then he put together a charity project to buy new Toshiba laptops for children recovering from cancer and did what he believed was a one-off production of Megalomaniac wine to fund the charity. It was so successful he kept the “one-off” going and $1 of every bottle still goes to the charity. He told us the touching story of how he met a recent recipient who used her laptop to compare wigs with another young girl suffering from cancer… in France.

John came off as a dedicated, well-spoken and extremely articulate man with years of wisdom and carefully chosen words. A very gracious and informative host.

MEGALOMANIC 2009 NARCISSIST RIESLING RESERVE (No Vintage) – Their trademark Riesling, this is a single vineyard off-dry Riesling that is the closest Niagara Riesling I’ve ever had to a German Spatlese. RECOMMENDED

MEGALOMANIAC 2010 HOMEGROWN RED – A blend of Cabernets and Merlot that was excellently crafted with rich berry flavor and soft tannins. Very tasty red which a lot of the tourgoers quite enjoyed.

MEGALOMANIAC 2007 COLDHEARTED RIESLING ICEWINE – A delicious and classic low alcohol (8% ABV) Riesling icewine. Tangy lemon-lime and pineapple flavors. RECOMMENDED

Nice Notes! You need to come out west and check the OK valley out Tran. Besides that, stop in Edmonton and I will open some good shit!

Thanks for the offer, Benjamin. Sadly, I was out in BC in 2006 but was (GASP!) not a wine drinker then ad missed my opportunity to see the Okanagan [head-bang.gif]

But perhaps I will head out there one day again. Or you could stop by here in TO and Mike Grammer could arrange an OL. [drinkers.gif]