On a clay limestone hill in Prince Edward County, Norman Hardie's passion for fine wine is put to the ultimate test. He has chosen select sites in Prince Edward County and Niagara with a magical combination of clay and limestone. These mineral driven sites are ideal and allow him to craft Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and other cool climate varieties of exceptional quality and elegance. His wines tell a story of place developed from passion and experience.
Norman Hardie earned his sommelier certification in his early twenties from the esteemed wine program at the University of Dijon in Burgundy. He then put his skills to work as a sommelier for Four Seasons Hotels for seven years. In 1996, he traded in his Hugo Boss and Armani suits for farm clothes, work boots and a backpack. His insatiable thirst to master the art of winemaking led him on a six year journey apprenticing for the very best producers/winemakers of cool climate varieties in Burgundy, South Africa, Oregon, New Zealand and California. In 2003, he put roots down in Prince Edward County by planting 12,000 Pinot Noir vines and in 2004 planted an additional 3,000 Chardonnay and 2,000 Pinot Gris vines.
The sites chosen have enormous potential. It’s up to the Norman Hardie team to look after and care for the land and vines to see that these sights realize their potential. They spend an inordinate amount of money and time on their vineyards to ensure perfect fruit. The vineyard crew are fastidious, understand and embrace the concept that great wine can only be made in the vineyard. Once the fruit is ripe, they hand pick and hand sort every cluster. This is to ensure only perfect fruit make it into the fermentations.
In the cellar, Norman Hardie takes a hands-off approach to gently guide their wines through fermentation and ageing. No temptation to use an arsenal of quick-fixes for easy non-distinctive ferments available through numerous laboratories. Instead, their approach is to use very few modern techniques in the cellar. This "old world" approach entails using absolute minimal amounts of sulphur, natural yeast from the vineyard, extended fermentation on the skins for the reds, lots of lees contact for the whites, and natural malolactic fermentation in the spring. It takes tremendous experience and guts to take this natural approach; they do it because of their dedication and desire to create wines that taste of a sense of place or Vins de Terroir.