It’s not every day that an Open Water Swim race is sponsored by a winery. But then, the North Shore Challenge is not your average OWS. And Burning Kiln Winery isn’t your average Winery. Norfolk County, on the north shore of Lake Erie, has quietly become one of Canada’s fastest growing wine regions, so to us, the partnership seemed natural. Besides, wine is made from grapes, and grapes are a fruit, and fruit juice is packed with natural carbs and electrolytes, so wine is practically an energy drink, right?
It is in this spirit that NSC race director, Josh Reid, met with Burning Kiln managers, Ashley Verrall and Susan Judd, to imagine, what if the delicious, VQA-certified Burning Kiln wines, were paired not with food, but with swim workouts? Now, we do not actually advocate drinking and swimming – that would be irresponsible! – but swimming, THEN drinking wine? But with so many types of training, and so many varieties of wine, where does one start? Consider this your primer!
Warm-up: BKW Horse and Boat Riesling
You are standing on the beach, looking out at the water. There’s a slight chop. Occasional white caps crest here and there, and your #swimbuddies are whispering “should we swim? There’s no current at the coffee shop.” You dive in, embracing the slightly out-of-control nature of open water swimming, looking forward to what nature will throw at you. This is what Horse and Boat Riesling is all about. It undergoes partial wild fermentation, a process that allows the natural field yeasts to take the wine in it’s own direction. The 2016 vintage also has an electric finish, just like Canada’s own Penny O.’s electric finishes at the 2016 Olympics!
Tempo Set: BKW Broken Needle Rosé
No one wins a medal without putting in some high-intensity training. Likewise, the 2016 Broken Needle Rosé recently won an All-Canadian Wine Awards silver medal, due in large part to its high-energy, fruit forward nose. Notes of strawberry, watermelon, and banana make this wine a perfect pair to summer – and summer sports! And much like an open water swimmer setting aside the wetsuit as the water warms, this 100% merlot grape wine spends some time with “skins” to get its coloration.
Main Set: BKW Kiln Hanger Red
To become a champion, an open-water swimmer needs to put in their time in the water. Marathon kick sets, technique drills, speed drills – we become one with the process. The 2012 Kiln Hanger has put in its time as well. The 100% cab franc grapes spent 14 days drying in Burning Kiln’s converted tobacco kilns, before being crushed. Then, another 30 MONTHS aging in Eastern European, American, and French oak barrels (imagine sharing the water with Katinka Hosszú, Michael Phelps, and Aurelie Muller), before being bottled. At 16% ABV, this wine has a lot of leg – just like a torturous kick set!
Cool Down: Quitting Time Pinot Grigio
We all love swimming. But, we ALSO love reaching our cool-down! This wine is perfect for recovery after a long swim in Lake Erie (take note, 10km swimmers), because it is made from 100% Estate-grown Pinot Grigio grapes. Citrus, lemon and lime notes make this light summer wine easy to drink. It is a crowd favourite, a great summertime patio wine. Who doesn’t love Quitting Time?
So there you have it! Burning Kiln Winery and the North Shore Challenge are a perfect pairing! When you are in Norfolk County on July 16th weekend, be sure to stop by and visit Head Winemaker Lydia Tomek and the rest of the friendly staff at Burning Kiln, just minutes from the finish line at 1709 Front Road, St. Williams, ON, or check them out online.