Ann Sperling

If you’ve ever had the chance to experience Niagara-on-the-lake, you’ll know it as a picturesque paradise where less is more and where the lush green landscape and rolling hills are enough to enchant you on their own, even before you try the wine born out of this renowned grape-friendly microclimate. With that, a visit to one Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyard is a must—a winery that gets right down to basics and fully embraces the less is more philosophy that is so inherently Niagara. Meet Southbrook Vineyards, a local winery taking every effort to live in harmony with the beautiful land and soil that is uniquely Niagara. This winery proves that when you give back to the land that gives you so much to work with, there can be delicious rewards.

Organic Canadian Wine

Known as the first winery in Canada to earn an organic and biodynamic certification for their vineyard and winery, Southbrook Vineyards show us that creating award-winning wines doesn’t have to come at a price to the environment.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Southbrook Organic Vineyards (@southbrookvineyards) on

When asked why a green approach to winemaking is important to her, Director of Winemaking and Viticulture Ann Sperling responds with “thoughtfulness.” Why? Because their commitment to biodynamic and organic farming at Southbrook Vineyards relies on careful attention to detail—something that doesn’t come easily, but is worth it for all involved—the earth, animals and of course, the best quality wine for us wine drinkers to enjoy too.

“We farm each vine individually and our primary goal is to hand-harvest our crop to make special wines. We use regenerative farming practices that remove CO2 from the atmosphere and sequester carbon in the soil thus contributing positively to the planet. We do not use synthetic chemicals or fossil fuel-derived fertilizers or herbicides, so our soils and environment are alive with soil microbes, insects, birds, and other wildlife. We also have a forested reserve of 10% of our property to provide habitat for wild species from frogs to wild turkeys and geese to foxes, deer, and many other critters,” explains Ann.

Setting itself apart from the rest, being biodynamic is a step above organic as it an approach to agriculture that is self-sufficient and addresses the interrelationship between soil, plants, and animals, just as Southbrook Winery has done.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Southbrook Organic Vineyards (@southbrookvineyards) on


Vineyard Life

Perhaps Ann’s deep commitment to Niagara’s land comes from knowing what it’s like to call wine country, home. No stranger to vineyard life at a young age, Ann grew up on a family vineyard in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley. Drawn to a career that would involve the use of all senses, winemaking was something she was always drawn to.

Today Ann is known as a leader in organic and biodynamic fine winemaking in Canada. Recognized highly for her work in the industry, she’s been awarded with Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards as well as having taken home the Lieutenant Governor Award.

Initially brought on as a winemaking consultant at Southbrook Winery in 2005, Ann played a key role in the winery’s transition from winemaker to winegrower. She is credited for introducing winery owner Bill Redelmeier and his wife Marilyn to the winery’s now home on the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation on Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Bill and Ann connected immediately as both are passionate about living in harmony with the land and making every effort to do so. Bill a third-generation farmer, is driven by his love for celebrating local products that are a true testament to the land they’re from—just as his grandfather taught him.

While Bill may have come to the region for love of supporting local, and to continue his family’s long agricultural history in the province, Ann came out to Niagara for a different reason.

“I first came to Niagara because I fell in love,”

“My husband who is also a winemaker is from the Niagara region.”

After 25 years in her adopted home, Ann shares “Niagara has grown on me and working in vineyards has given me a chance to love the outdoor beauty of every season.”

Cutting Edge Winemaking Techniques

To this day, even at the leading edge of viticulture in the world, she still finds interacting with real people “who literally have their hands in every part of the Niagara region,” as one of the most rewarding parts of her role at Southbrook Winery.

“There’s a term: ‘honest wines’ that reflects my goals in winemaking: these should truly reflect the terroir of Niagara and the subtle differences of each growing season; they should be vibrant and lively as well as have the ability to age and reflect this place for many years to come,” shares Ann.

Through her honest work with Southbrook Winery, Ann has proven that biodynamics can be successful in the region’s cool climate. Their small-batch, barrel lot wines and are full of flavor and can be aged for years to come thanks to the clay-rich soils of the Four Mile Creek sub-appellation.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Southbrook Organic Vineyards (@southbrookvineyards) on

“Southbrook is located in the warmest sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula, so it’s a great spot for red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot,”

Having helped Bill establish the vineyards starting in 2006, she shares that she knows each plating in a detailed and special way.

If you’re going to try the best of the best, their top-notch vintages include their Estate Vineyard Small Lots and Poetica. In a 2007 Ontario vs Bordeaux tasting, the $49.95 little-known Niagara red (Poetica), beat world-renowned trophy labels worth hundreds of dollars.

A trip to Southbrook wouldn’t be complete without a sip (or two) in their sleek and striking “hospitality pavilion.” Commissioned by architect Jack Diamond (Toronto’s Four Seasons for the Performing Arts, La Maison Symphonique de Montréal) the building is eco-friendly, using fifty per cent less energy than an average building of the same size and LEED Gold Certification, the first winery to ever achieve this.

Clearly Southbrook believes in being lean and green, from the inside out—and it’s paid off. Truly unlike any other winery in Canada, their approach to getting all parts of a winery’s living system working in harmony makes for better vines and better wines you simply have to sip and see to believe.


• • • • •


Southbrook Organic Vineyards
581 Niagara Stone Rd, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1J0

Myniagara Instagram#myniagara