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Winegarden Estate wins gold, silver in Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition

Elke Muessle displays some of the many wine and distilled products available at the Winegarden Estate retail outlet in Baie Verte. Some of the recipes used in their more than 80 types of wines, brandy and liqueurs date back several family generations to the production of wine in the Black Forest in Germany.
Elke Muessle displays some of the many wine and distilled products available at the Winegarden Estate retail outlet in Baie Verte. Some of the recipes used in their more than 80 types of wines, brandy and liqueurs date back several family generations to the production of wine in the Black Forest in Germany. - Joan LeBlanc

It’s been a very good year for Winegarden Estate. The winery/distillery located in Baie Verte, NB has garnered one gold and two silver medals in a country-wide spirit competition.

Winegarden Estate picked up a gold medal for its Anis, Eau de Vie, as well as silver medals for Brother Herble liqueur and the very popular Johnny Ziegler brandy in the Canadian Artisan Spirit Competition held recently.

“We had submitted three of our products to the competition and we got a gold and two silvers, so we’re very happy with that,” company president Elke Muessle said recently.

The winning medals will be proudly displayed on the labels of their products this year, she noted.

“It’s always good to know where you stand within the industry. We, of course, think our products are the best but, realistically, when you go into a competition, you get a true reading of the quality. The judges are industry professionals and part of the judging is letting us know the more intricate properties of our products. We get good feedback from them,” Muessle explained.

It was 35 years ago that the Rosswog family brought their wine-making and distilling skills to this country from the Black Forest in Germany, continuing the family heritage in the establishment of Winegarden Estate. Today they continue to use their own grapes and locally accessed fruits to produce a vast array of wines and distilled products.

When Werner and Roswitha Rosswog first established their winery on the site of their family farm in Baie Verte in 1982, small wine-making businesses were just starting to come into existence. Werner worked hard in the early years to promote cottage wineries in this province and soon became a catalyst in forging a new industry. A provincial winery program was created in 1999 and the Rosswogs were instrumental in forming a cooperative, with members helping members by buying each others’ produce for use in making value-added products.

The family launched the first fruit-wine distillery in Atlantic Canada and Roswitha became renowned as this countries’ first woman distiller. Their ‘Johnny Ziegler’ brand was named in honour of Werner’s great-grandfather Johann Ziegler, a vine grower and master carpenter who, many years ago, had obtained the right to distill fruit in the Black Forest.

In 2002 the family built a large warehouse and opened a retail outlet at the winery and in 2008 the senior Rosswogs retired, passing the business on to their children. Son Steffen is now general manager and distiller/winemaker; daughter Elke Muessle is company president and granddaughter Tanja Muessle has joined in as well.

Each year Winegarden Estate produces more than 80 different products including several varieties of white, red, rosé and sparkling grape wine as well as dessert wines, port wine, aperitifs, brandies and liqueurs.

“New Brunswick's first commercial grape wine was created at Winegarden Estate. Our Eau-de-vie is a favourite too; it’s a pure, high-alcohol clear spirit, fermented from fruit and grapes and we make it in many varieties including Raspberry, Aquavit (caraway/cumin), Slibowitz (plum), Kirsch (cherry), Bartlett Pear, Elderberry, Cassis (currant) and that’s just a few of them,” she added.

The gold-medal winning Anis Eau-de-Vie has a licorice flavour and persons purchasing the herbal liqueur often find it a nice finishing touch to a heavy or spicy meal.

“Of course you can enjoy it anytime, but it does help to aid digestion after meals, like many of the herbal liqueurs,” Muessle said.

The tasty Winegarden Estate liqueurs are alcoholic beverages flavoured with fruit, herbs or spices and because they are bottled with added sugar, are quite sweet. Their products are available at their farm outlet, NB Liquor Commissions locations and their wines are now also available at Sobeys and Atlantic Superstores across the New Brunswick.

Each summer Winegarden Estate holds weekly music nights at the winery, with proceeds going to local charities; and on the second Sunday in August they hold the Winegarden Open Air Wine Festival, which draws hundreds of people from all over the Maritimes. They have also added a multi-purpose room at the winery which can accommodates about 75 and is used for various events including receptions, parties and reunions.

With bottling of this year’s products set to begin shortly, Muessle said they are gearing up for a busy year ahead.

“Just having some of our products win nation-wide recognition makes it a good year to start with,” she said.

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