What’s in a Name?

June 30, 2014

[Que Syrah, Shiraz] If you've recently picked up a bottle of our famouse Shiraz in the LCBO or at the winery you may be puzzled: "This says Syrah, I usually get the Shiraz?...' Allow us to explain:

At Creekside, we have had a long history with the Shiraz/Syrah grape variety, [‘long’ being relative to the age of the Canadian wine industry]. We first began extensively planting Syrah in Niagara in the late 1990’s. With each vintage, we have witnessed first-hand this grape’s huge potential. Fifteen years later, it is the grape we are best known for, and we continue to see its popularity surge as a versatile, consistently pleasing and delightfully unique red wine.
When we first launched this wine commercially in 2002, we debated which variety name to use: “Syrah”, in homage to the original French versions from the Rhone region; or the more modern and ubiquitous “Shiraz”, an Australian twist on the name. At the time, Shiraz was what the Canadian marketplace knew, as big Australian brands such as Wolf Blass and Yellow Tail were dominant. We thought it best to go with something familiar, so we decided on “Shiraz” to launch our flagship wine.

Over time, an internal winery debate was brewing about our original Shiraz name choice. While our ‘Shiraz’ is distinctively Niagara in style, the cooler growing climate here lends more similarity to wines hailing from classic Syrah vineyards in France than Australian versions. And we began to hear a common refrain from wine media, sommeliers and aficionados: “This is an amazing wine, but no way is it Shiraz – call it Syrah!” We reflected and agreed, who are we to blow against the wind? We would become producers of Niagara Syrah!

And so, with the 2012 vintage, the change was made: From this day forward, our flagship red variety will be known as Syrah! Yet at the end of the day, it is what’s inside the bottle that really counts: you can’t drink a name, and we have changed nothing that we do to make this wine except the label. We think you’ll agree that Syrah is a great grape for Niagara. Bright fruit, fresh cracked black pepper, & elegant structure. Reliably delicious and uniquely Canadian. Cheers!

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