Our Story

Our name CALAMUS is the Latin word for arrow. When the land was being prepared for the planting of our vineyards, fragments of rock used by First Nation inhabitants were discovered. These fragments of the local rock "chert" were used to fashion stone tools, implements and arrowheads - the inspiration for our name and our logo. The Calamus archer is fondly called Calvin - "Cal" for Calamus and "vin" for wine. Or "Cupid" by our brides and grooms!

CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY started with Calamus Vineyards. A 14 acre property in 1999 near Beamsville and planted their first 10 acre vineyard in 2000. With the goal of supporting and 8500 case winery, a second farm and 19th century barn was purchased in 2001. The second property, located adjacent to Ball's Falls Conservation Area, is now the home of CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY. Our vineyards produce only the highest quality Niagara vinifera and hybrid grapes. We welcome you to experience the historic charm of our 1800's era heritage barns, the setting for the production area and retail outlet.

Beginning with its early vintages, CALAMUS wines have been very well received by customers, wine critics and restaurants. Each vintage has produced award winning wines. With a total of 32 acres of planted vineyards CALAMUS ESTATE WINERY grows Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Vidal, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Our 100% VQA wines are preserved with screw caps as we believe this to be a superior closure for preserving wine quality, freshness and longevity.photos

The 20-acre ravine behind the winery with 18 mile creek flowing though with 3 bridges, it is a scenic spot for hikes, photos. picnics and outdoor functions. We are a stone's throw from the magnificent Bruce Trail, and adjacent to Balls Falls.  With our 350 Barrel Cellar, 1800’s barn and NEW multi-level outdoor decks, we can host events in a spectacular setting overlooking our rolling vineyards. 

The Van Helsdingen family finally realized our dream of owning a boutique artisanal winery.  Bill and Fran Van Helsdingen first opened the hospitality business in Niagara in 1971.  A dedication to them both is our Waterfall overlooking the vineyard.  They taught us all the true meaning of hospitality.  Peter and Rosalee took over the company in 1991 and started to contract with wineries throughout Niagara, being on the opening hospitality team of several successful Niagara Wineries.  

          The Van Helsdingen Family vision is clear and simple,

Become Niagara’s Premier Artisanal Winery Experience.

MISSION STATEMENT

At Calamus Estate Winery, our mission as a family-owned business we’re crafting a passion for providing a unique one of a kind Customer experience; is to provide our customers with delicious, award-winning, quality wines and food that are all hand-crafted locally. We provide an unparalleled winery experience with something to satisfy every palate, from our unique barrel kissed chardonnay to our double barrel Cabernet Sauvignon.  Whether you are reflecting on your experiences in the Niagara Region or reside in this beautiful region, our goal is for our guests to regard Calamus Estate Winery as the most memorable winery they have experienced and leave feeling like family.  We will be judged by the smile on our customers when departing, not by the number of cases sold.

VALUE STATEMENT

We will accomplish our mission by adhering to the following values:

Customer Relationships:

We treat our customers as we would good friends, combining accurate, timely, dependable and exceptional customer service experience with a friendly rapport and welcoming atmosphere. 

Wine and Event Experience:

We invite our customers to join us in our journey through wine and producing WOW events enjoyment, providing a wine tasting experience that is relaxing, fun and educational. We take pride in selecting the best ingredients and using a traditional, hands-on approach to wine making that is guided by our talented winemaker every step along the process. It is our dedication to quality and process that results in our outstanding, award-winning wines and events that can be enjoyed by everyone! Each unique varietal and custom blend we produce is a result of meticulous planning, blending, tasting and calculating just the right amount of every ingredient we use to make our wines and produce our events.

Our Being is Local:

We aim to support our local Niagara.  By only producing wines from local grapes; by providing a wine experience that brings customers back to the Niagara region time and time again; and by donating to local charitable causes; Our Balls Falls Red and White Wines provide a percentage of sales for the Conservation at Balls Falls; Habitat for Humanity to help end homelessness and reduce the impact of poverty across the Niagara Region.  We also do our best to source locally made foods we are very proud to serve on our deck and our events like fresh local berries and pies from TIGCHELAAR BERRY FARMS, Cheeses from RAMAKERS, UPPER CANADA CHEESE STORE and specialty meats from NIAGARA SPECIALTY FOODS.

OUR VINEYARDS

The Falls Vineyard Site - Vinemount Ridge Appellation

This vineyard, located in the Vinemount Ridge Appellation is the site of the winery operation and 20 acres of premium vinifera grapes. This appellation is quickly gaining recognition as a highly coveted location for producing Riesling in particular. Our single vineyard Riesling comes from this site.

Purchased in August 2001, the 42 acre property was once a small dairy farm where feed crops were grown on the 22 arable acres of gently sloping fields. The original barns have been renovated to house the winery and retail facility. Bisecting the property and cutting through the site's 20 acre ravine, is 18 Mile Creek. In June 2002, the land was shaped, tile drainage installed, soil amended and 27,200 vines (20 acres) were planted. The final 1.5 acres were planted June 2004.
 

The Bartlett Creek Vineyard Site - Lincoln Lakeshore Appellation

In September 1999 a 14 acres farm on Greenlane Rd on the eastern edge of the town of Beamsville below the Niagara Escarpment was purchased. The property was an overgrown orchard and vineyard that required clearing, land shaping, tile drainage and soil nutrients prior to planting. By early summer 2000, the land was prepared and 14,280 vines (10.5 acres) of vinifera and hybrid varieties planted.
 

Vineyard Breakdown 

The Bartlett Creek, and Falls Vineyard sites have a total area of 56 acres with 32 acres of land in vines.

White Varietals:

  • 8 acres of Chardonnay
  • 7 acres of Riesling
  • 6.5 acres Pinot Gris
  • 0.5 acres Gewürztraminer
  • 0.5 acre Vidal

Red Varietals:

  • 5 acres Cabernet Franc,
  • 3 acres Cabernet Sauvignon and
  • 1.5 acres Merlot

 

Our Wine Maker- Kevin Panagapka

kevin

 

Kevin’s father – Don – is a well known amateur winemaker. Don is a member of the Kitchener Waterloo Winemakers Guild and was recognized with a lifetime achievement award from the Amateur Winemakers of Ontario. Kevin (in photo left) has great memories of working with his dad in the basement, or should I say ‘cellar’, in the family home. “My Dad never had enough hands when it came to bottling. It seems I’ve been around wine for most of my life!”, recalls Kevin. Early on in life, Kevin developed an interest in Burgundy, France and the wines from this famous region. “As winemakers, we tend to fall into one category – blends or not. 

 Wine that speaks from its roots

Kevin has a clear passion for wine that speaks to its roots.” I have always believed that great wines are grown, not made and that quality fruit produces quality wines. My interest is in varieties that showcase terroir and I enjoy investigating the differences between the various vineyards from which I source my fruit.” he comments. “It also ties into the ‘wild fermentation’ and ‘unfiltered’ wine style.   It’s what makes winemaking and viticulture interesting for me, keeps me engaged in the process from start to finish.”

Precise & specific

Kevin is very precise in the criteria he looks for in the vineyards and vines he sources. “. I manage the cropping levels, leaf removal and general care of all the vineyard blocks. This allows me to control the quality of the wines from the beginning of the season in the vineyard, through harvest and the winemaking process.” 

The Van Helsdingen Family is proud of each of the wines Kevin has produced and bottled and look forward to serving you in the 100 year old retail cobbled store barn, on the deck, overlooking the vineyard and waterfall, or while looking through our telescope at the stars......