J-L (Jean-Laurent) Groux is a native of France’s Loire Valley who learned his craft in the vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux. And while he venerates the traditions of winemaking, he won’t be bound by them.
J-L is the head winemaker at The Stratus vineyard located in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Stratus is a mature
fifty-three acre estate moderated by the effects of two bodies of water:
the Niagara River and Lake Ontario. Benefiting from a unique mesoclimate,
the vineyard ranks among the warmest sites in Niagara
Their vineyard is planted partially with Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
The vineyard's main varieties will be clones of Bordeaux and Rhone
Canada's Stratus Vineyards is the world's first winery
to be given the coveted LEED green certification. To qualify for the
LEED, Stratus set up features and practices such as composting all
plant waste materials, herbicide-free vineyards, energy-efficient electrical
and plumbing systems, and toxin-free waste-management systems. Stratus
also uses a hybrid, gas-electric vehicle for winery deliveries. The
winery was also designed for making wine using the gravity-flow method.
The winery's main building is heated using a geothermal source more than 200 feet below ground. This added considerably to building costs but it is expected to produce significant savings over the coming years .
Niagara Local wrote : "Stratus’ stately presence leaves you breathless. Intimidating and enticing in the same fleeting moment, Stratus draws you in like a magnet, as you simultaneously wonder if you’re dressed well-enough ."
Back in 1981 Jt
was touring the world a university friend was working at the then Hillebrand Estates (now Trius) Groux dropped in to help at harvest time. “It was fairly distressing,” he recalls. “Everyone was into wines and varietals I had never heard of. It was bizarre.” But Groux found the country and the people interesting enough that he returned to work for a few months in 1985, then again in 1988. It was during the last visit that his friend admitted he could no longer stand the absence of decent cheese in Ontario and was heading back to France. So Groux took over as the estate’s head winemaker.
“What I like about Canada is that there’s an open-mindedness. You can try anything here,” says the impressively bearded 55-year-old. “Not like in Bordeaux where, if you were to try and grow pinot noir, people would think it was a crime against humanity.”
Jt joined Stratus in 2004, known as one of Niagara’s winemaking pioneers, he brought his vision of creating premium New World wines through the Old World art of assemblage to Stratus. Assemblage is the art of creating a unique blend of wine, selected from the best barrels, to deliver the elusive character of the vintage and the vineyards.
J-L lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake with his wife Béatrice and their two children, Gaëlle and Corwan.
“The minds behind Stratus think a little differently. It shows in their sense of style. It shows in their demanding techniques.
And it shows in the wines.”
J-L (Jean-Laurent) Groux
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