In Niagara, Canada (13) Two Sisters Vineyards

I caught up with winemaker Adam Pearce to try through the range of Two Sisters, a Niagara winery based in Niagara River. It’s a quite new venture, debuting in 2007.

The sisters in question are Melissa and Angela, daughters of the founder Benny Marotta, who is a Italian-Canadian real estate developer in the greater Toronto area.

As befits a real estate developer, the winery building is quite grand and imposing, and home to an impressive hospitality operation. They have 130 acres of vines, with 70 of them around the winery. In 2022 they would have been fully estate in terms of vineyard sourcing, but they lost their Sauvignon Blanc to the previous winter – it’s not a cold-hardy variety – so they had to buy some in.

Adam has now done nine vintages here. ‘We are extreme climate winemaking,’ he says. ‘One year you can have Napa growing degree days, then Austria growing degree days. If you can make wine in Ontario, you can make it anywhere.’

He gave a quick run down of some of the recent years: 2016 was really warm; 2017 was an incredible vintage if you picked late – it was a wild year and very wet, but they got an Indian summer and the result was dark, opaque red wines for those who waited; 2018 was a big crop, with an unremarkable summer – a nice Ontario vintage.

Two Sisters also have a label called Stone Eagle, which is an extension of the icon label and will in time be a separate winery.

And Adam’s three favourites? Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling.


Two Sisters Blanc de Francs 2019 Niagara River, Canada
This is zero dosage, and Two Sisters were the first to make a sparkling Cabernet Franc in Ontario back in 2016. Fresh and lively with lovely lemon and cherry notes, with a touch of mandarin. Very bright with some green apple notes and fine spiciness on the finish. Very fine with taut lemony fruit the main focus. 92/100

Two Sisters Eagle Eye 2019 Niagara, Canada
13.8% alcohol. This is part of the Stone Eagle super-premium portfolio. 62% Semillon and 38% Sauvignon. Barrel-fermented and aged 11 months in light toast used oak. This is powerful and lively with good acidity backing up the pear, citrus and mint notes. There’s also some smoky grapefruit. You can’t really spot any oak here, and it finishes slightly saline. This could age beautifully. 93/100

Two Sisters Chardonnay 2019 Beamsville Bench, Niagara, Canada
This is from the famous Lenko Vineyard, planted in 1959. They take all the fruit now. Each year Adam adds a new puncheon to the program. 75% puncheon (500 litres), 30% new oak, the malolactic decision is made by the barrel. Complex and layered, this is delicate and textural with nice bright acidity. Has a citrus fruit core with notes of pear and apple. Has the potential for development with its keen acidity. 93/100

Two Sisters Domenica’s Block Chardonnay 2019 Niagara, Canada
100% new oak, all puncheons. Bottled with lees, and all from estate fruit. This is ripe, toasty and layered with nice bready, mealy depth. Has nuts and minerals with a slight salinity. This is rich with nice woody complexity. Showy but layered. 94/100

Two Sisters Eleventh Post 2018 Niagara, Canada
They make this from the three red varieties grown on site: it’s 44% Merlot, 32% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Cabernet Franc. ‘We are trying to make ageworthy, collectable wines,’ says Adam. ‘This is meant to be our easy drinker!’ A large portion is added in 3000 and 5000 litre casks. This is bright and sweetly fruited with raspberry, black cherry and blackberry. There’s a slight green hint with nice supple fruit and a hint of sweetness. Ripe and floral with a bit of grip. 91/100

Two Sisters Cabernet Franc 2017 Niagara, Canada
14.9% alcohol. This is estate fruit from clone 214 which brings more weight. Made from very ripe fruit (picked into November), aged in mainly neutral oak. Concentrated, ripe and textured with lush, sweet blackberry and black cherry fruit. Floral, ripe and salty with a slight Christmas cake edge. This is a big wine but it’s still balanced. 94/100

Two Sisters Senza 2019 Niagara, Canada
Senza is Italian for without, and this 50/50 blend of Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon has no added sulfites and the barrels aren’t topped up. This is dense, powerful and spicy with some nice structure to the ripe blackberry fruit. There’s nice acidity here with a bit of lift. Warm, spicy and detailed with a nice dry finish, and some tannic grip. 93/100

Two Sisters Stone Eagle 2017 Niagara River, Canada
14.7% alcohol. 57% Merlot, 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Cabernet Franc. Concentrated and rich with lovely texture. Smooth and Sleek with lovely depth and weight. Powerful, bold, rich and textured, showing lush fruit and real intensity. Still so balanced. 94/100