Karlo Estates is one of nearly 40 wineries in Prince Edward County, Ontario. This region is Canada’s newest viticultural area and the most northern appellation in the province. Only officially identified in 2007 by the VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance), the Prince Edward County wine area is steadily growing in popularity. Even in this relatively small wine country, Karlo Estates has a unique claim to fame. It is the world’s first vegan-certified winery.
WHAT MAKES A WINE VEGAN?
Despite wine being made from grapes, animal proteins are commonly used in the clarification process of winemaking. To reduce bitterness or tannin, winemakers often use egg whites, casein from milk, isinglass from fish bladders or gelatin. If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, you’ll want to choose a wine that doesn’t contain these ingredients.
HOW DOES KARLO ESTATES CLARIFY THEIR WINE?
It’s more difficult to make a vegan wine because there is less room for fixing mistakes with animal proteins. One of the top winemakers in Canada, Derek Barnett uses his highly-trained palate to craft outstanding wines for Karlo Estates. Owner and vintner Sherry Karlo has creative and innovative winemaking methods. Barnett and Karlo overcome these challenges by being precise from the start. While the wine requires fewer protein additions overall, pumpkin or potato protein further reduce tannin and bitterness. For clarification, they use bentonite clay.
HOW DOES A WINERY BECOME VEGAN-CERTIFIED?
Karlo Estates is officially certified by VegeCert, meaning that every process and ingredient is free of animal products. The Kosher Council carries out VegeCert’s rigorous inspections. To become vegan-certified, companies must meet the organization’s high standards. Karlo Estates passed the tests in every facet of production and manufacturing, from the vineyard to the bottle.
If You Go
Karlo Estates’ striking tasting rooms are inside a timber-frame barn dating back to 1805. The back patio tasting room offers a quiet and serene space to sip wine paired with tasty bites. The center barrel room allows guests to treat their palates while admiring Sherry Karlo’s artistic creations, original portrait oil paintings. The tranquility continues outdoors at tasting tables set beside a dreamy cobblestone bridge. Be sure to try their award-winning pinot noir, with captivating notes of sour red cherry, exotic spice, and cacao.
Karlo Estates is open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Day.
If you’re interested to see if your favorite wine is vegan or vegetarian-friendly, the Barnivore guide is an excellent resource. Not every winemaker or brewer will seek the meticulous testing of becoming officially vegan-certified. Barnivore lists whether or not there are animal ingredients in the wine, beer, or liquor. If your wine or beer of choice isn’t on the site, you can ask the winemaker directly if they use animal proteins in their processing or filtration techniques.