David Johnson and Louise Engel have poured their hearts into this 23-acre, eco-friendly estate tucked into the Niagara Escarpment. Riesling best captures the terroir, but winemaker David Johnson also crafts award-winning Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Cabernet Franc and Chardonnay. On weekends throughout the summer, guests can sit on the Farmhouse veranda and enjoy a glass of wine and a pizza from the wood-fired pizza oven.
3678 Victoria Avenue
April & May; September to December
Friday to Sunday 11 am – 5:30 pm
June, July & August
Daily 11 am – 5:30 pm
Closed January – March
David is the owner/operator/ tractor driver and most importantly, winemaker at Featherstone Winery, where he makes vin de terroir on the Twenty Mile Bench. Featherstone produced its first vintage – a “whopping” 300 cases – in 1999.
David started making wine in the early ’90s while living in Guelph, where he and his wife, Louise, ran a specialty food shop. A fascination with fermentation led David to the vineyards of Niagara, where he purchased juice and grapes from Donna Lailey and Don Eastman. From there, it was a natural next step to follow the path of gifted amateurs-turned-professionals like Jim Warren, Herb Jacobson and the originals at Thirty Bench Winemakers.
In 2007, David was invited to Sileni Estates in New Zealand to work the harvest. It was there that he saw sheep being used in the vineyards to feed on cover crops and do leaf removal. He brought the idea back to Canada, where Featherstone became the first vineyard in the country to “employ” lambs. From this innovation, Featherstone’s trademark wine, Black Sheep Riesling, was born.
Nine years later, Dave was harvesting in Stellenbosch, South Africa, but no zebras or giraffes have appeared in Featherstone’s vineyards or on its labels. Yet.
This year marks Featherstone’s 20th vintage and production now is about 9,000 cases annually. Most of the wines appear in Vintages releases throughout the year, and the Cabernet Franc and Riesling are always available in the Vintages Essentials Collection.
There is a lot of emphasis on “passion” in the wine industry. For David, it is as much about curiosity– an intense, unquenchable desire to learn, figure out how things work…and then have some fun doing it really well.
At its core, living in the vineyard, working with the fruits of your labour, is “old-world” winemaking. To this, David brings a revived passion and searching curiosity that distinguishes the best in new Niagara winemaking.