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Airdrie Winemaker Nets National Award

Airdrie Echo Wednesday Sept 14, 2011,  Scott Mitchell, Editor

Kellie Babin was excited when she found out she won a Silver medal at the Amateur Winemakers of Canada Competition ( AWC).  Her friends were even more excited to drink the wine.  “I had a lot of fun sampling wine this summer with my neighbours at the lake,” Babin laughed.  “I said, “Let’s try some award winning wines now.” They all loved it.”

Babin, who has lived in Airdrie for 14 yrs, entered four bottles of her home made wine into The Home Vintner Wine Guild’s in-house competition. Eventually, three of her bottles were chosen for the Provincial Competition. After winning a Silver & Bronze provincially, her Italian Amarone went on to take another Silver at the National competition in Nova Scotia.   A South African Shiraz won the Provincial Bronze.

“I’m just waiting for (the national medal ) in the mail — I’m pretty excited,” Babin beamed last week at The Home Vintner store on Main Street in Airdrie.  “The cool thing is that I’ve only been entering into competition for a year, but I’ve been a customer for four or five years, so I’m not a huge winemaker,” she added.”When they had their in-house guild competition I said, ” Let’s just see.”   “I had three bottles that went forward to the Alberta level, which was pretty cool because I only entered four bottles!”

Paul Sass, owner of the Main Street store, said the Provincial awards are fairly common for The Home Vintner brand, but National awards, like Babin’s are significant. “You don’t get to the top of hundreds and hundreds of wines and not have something that has excellent nose, bouquet, and background,” Sass says. “That’s a lot of wine to get to the top of.”

The Home Vintner took home 1 Gold, 11 Silver, and 5 Bronze medals at the Provincial competition.

Babin’s winemaking has progressed.  We started off with heavy Italian reds because that’s what I love”, she said.  “I didn’t know that my husband would like it, but apparently he does! Now that I have more experience….I’ve tried so many different things, so it’s a lot of variety now. I’ve started branching off into beer and I make my own recipes of beer”.

It’s exactly what Sass wants to see people do when they take on the challenge of making their own wine.  “There is a calibre of wine nowadays that can reach and achieve any comparisons with commercial wines,” he said. “A lot of people  have a wrong impression of the home wine industry because they bump into the lesser qualities.   It’s frustrating for us when people don’t set their standards high enough because it is there.  It’s totally achievable!”

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