Announcing the Winery of the Year

Malivoire of Beamsville is Canada’s 2021 Winery of the Year

by David Lawrason

The Malivoire Wine Company, nestled among prime, maturing, sustainably farmed vineyards on Niagara’s Beamsville Bench, has been awarded “Winery of the Year” at the 2021 National Wine Awards of Canada (the 20th Anniversary of these awards). 


Malivoire Tasting Room

It is such a great outcome for a winery long beloved by Ontario wine enthusiasts as a go-to for bright, elegant and energetic wines that capture Niagara’s spirit. And among the winemaking community, few are as well-liked and respected as winemaker Shiraz Mottiar (and no, Shiraz is not a stage name). 

The victory is well earned. The incredible haul of 17 medals at the Nationals spans their repertoire, with Platinum medals for Le Coeur Gamay 2020, Bisous Rosé Sparkling and a new red blend of cabernet franc and gamay called Analog Demo Series 2020 clinching the victory. 

It is the first time in NWAC history that a single winery has won three Platinum Medals at the Nationals. And I am delighted to emphasize that the medals were won over three different styles of wines. The whole idea of this exercise of ranking wineries is to highlight and reward consistency and inspire consumer confidence. 


Martin Malivoire and Shiraz Mottiar

Malivoire was founded in 1996 by Martin Malivoire and Moira Saganski, focusing on pinot noir and chardonnay, plus some pinot gris and gewurztraminer farmed organically. Canadian organics pioneer Ann Sperling was the first winemaker. While Martin was still a mechanical film special effects producer for Hollywood studios, he was also a wine student of mine in the early 90s, so I was not surprised when he opened his cleverly constructed, gravity-flow winery within a former Quonset hut. 

Here is Martin’s reaction to the big win:

“For me, an honour of this stature speaks not only to our commitment to winemaking and viticulture – two elements that I am incredibly proud to see recognized, but to the dedication of our winery staff. I would like to think this award reflects the culture and DNA of our winery, where each person has a vital role in contributing to our identity and the recognition we receive. Congratulations to my whole team — this is your award.” 

Malivoire winery

Malivoire Winery

And the team has been instrumental in elevating and innovating. For example, with the 2005 promotion of Shiraz Mottiar from assistant to head winemaker, things began to morph beyond the original Burgundy/Alsace model. First, he added the delicious and hugely popular Ladybug Rosé to the repertoire, then gamay which has led the way in Canada ever since, then sparkling wines, and finally “bigger” reds and blends based on Bordeaux varieties, mostly sourced from the Stouck Vineyard. As a result, there is a sense of purity and charm throughout the range that people love, but is always backed by fine-boned structure. 

Here is Shiraz Mottiar’s reaction to the Winery of the Year Award: 

“Wow, I am beside myself. I am so proud of this accomplishment and the team that made it happen – my fellow winemakers Elisa Mazzi, Dan Stouck, vineyard manager Tristan Bondett and our entire farm and production crew. Our focus on finding how to express best what grows in our vineyards has been our ultimate goal. It has been Martin Malivoire’s vision that we have been fortunate to fulfil, without the worry of zigging when fashions and tastes may zag. The handful of talented growers we have long worked with also make integral contributions to ensure we can be at the same time consistent and creative in our winemaking.” 

Malivoire Estate pinot_berm_02 (1)

Creative is the key word in Shiraz’s comments. He has been able to try various new things while being somewhat free of the pressures of convention and styles. It is not to suggest that Malivoire is off on experimental winemaking tangents, but there has always been the confidence to move in a new direction, like rosé or gamay, when the market had not yet embraced either. For example, the latest project involved swapping fruit with Dan Sullivan of Rosehall Run in Prince Edward County, with each winery making pinot noir with the other winery’s fruit. 

In closing, Martin was appreciative of the National Wine Awards of Canada. “Celebrations like the NWACs and the accolades they bring for all Canadian wines are instrumental in ensuring the longevity, sustainability and consistency of our industry – they give us all something to aspire to.”  

Twenty years ago, our goal was almost identical — to create a one-day snapshot of Canadian wine that would inspire producers across the country to enter and benchmark their wines against the best.

Congratulations to everyone at Malivoire!

Have a look at the Top 25 Wineries in Canada, the Top 10 Wineries in B.C. and the Top 10 Wineries in Ontario.

See you all in Niagara in 2022.  

Malivoire’s Winning Wines:


Malivoire Gamay Le Coeur 2020

Malivoire Gamay Le Coeur 2020

Malivoire Bisous Rosé

Malivoire Analog Demo Series 2020
Malivoire Small Lot Chardonnay 2020
Malivoire Mottiar Pinot Noir 2019
Malivoire Rosé Moira 2020
Malivoire Mottiar Chardonnay 2019
Malivoire Bisous Brut
Malivoire Small Lot Gamay 2020






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