The atmosphere was dizzy with good music, good drink and good company the night I had a chance to sit down with Tom O’Brien of Cooper’s Hawk Vineyard. Less that 10 years ago Tom- a partner at PriceWaterhouseCoopers - was planning his retirement. He and his wife started looking at properties in Ontario’s beautiful Southwest region. Tom fell under the spell of the region’s local food and wine scene and decided to trade his desk chair for a tractor and began cultivating his own vines in the Essex Pelee Island Coast (EPIC) Wine Country.
After three years working his land, Tom retired to take on his passion full time, and saw the vines flourish and the business grow. Tom and his partners now have 20 varieties of wine, including the 2013 Cabernet Merlot Reserve - a delicious French Oak aged blend of Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot I was fortunate enough to try. Cooper's Hawk wines are affordable - they a priced between $14 and $34 - and delicious. At the 2016 All Canadian Wine Championships, the winery took home Double Gold for their 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon and Gold for their 2013 Cabernet Franc Reserve.
Cooper's Hawk is now a 67 acre estate winery just east of Harrow, Ontario. The name of the winery is a tribute to the many birds of prey that roam the skies about the vineyard, green spaces and wetlands. Cooper's Hawk is committed to the protecting the landscape of Ontario's Southwest region and has partnered with Ducks Unlimited to restore a wetland on the property. As part of the Ontario by Bike Network, Cooper's Hawk welcomes wine lovers on two wheels by providing a 40 space bike rack.
They haven't forgotten the foodies either! Their newly opened restaurant Vines, brings the bounty of the region to your plate. Chef Michael Boucher's menu features Lake Erie Perch, Fernwood Farms Organic chicken, and Butcher of Kingsville beef burgers. Drool over the menu here and make a reservation to head down to wine country and visit. Still not enough wine and food for you? Follow Cooper's Hawk on Facebook to be the first to know about their summer event series. They have a summer full of fun food and wine events planned, including a Southern style BBQ every weekend!