What Opimian has Meant to Me
By Jane Masters
As Opimian’s Consultant Master of Wine, over the last twelve years I have tasted my way through tens of thousands of wines and selected the best. Since my first Cellar Offering in 2010, Cellar 198, my aim has consistently been to source the best wines possible in terms of quality and value for money for Members. Wines that are of good quality, reflect their provenance and style and which are distinctive, whatever the price level, from simple everyday drinking wines to complex wines for cellaring and special occasions.
Wine producers are an important part of Opimian, with good wines made by producers who are passionate and knowledgeable about their land and environment and who have a questioning attitude to driving wine quality. I am fortunate that in my professional life, I have visited all major wine-producing regions around the world. Over the years, the Opimian supply base evolved quite substantially, as quality producers making interesting new wines were introduced to complement longstanding relationships. I have visited most Opimian producers, many of which are small independent family affairs, gaining insight into their wines and focus as well as what is happening in their regions. I know many Members enjoy travelling and visiting wine regions for similar reasons. While nothing can substitute a first-hand visit, my aim has been to share my experiences with Members in describing wines and sharing the stories and passion of the producers.
As a Membership organization, you the Members are the raison d’être for Opimian’s existence. My responsibilities for sourcing wines on behalf of Members meant that most of my time was spent with producers and doing tastings; however, I have shared memorable moments with Members on visits far and wide within Canada and internationally, and discovered many wonderful places. I have seen icebergs in Newfoundland, enjoyed live bands along George Street in St. John’s, experienced torrential rain in Fort McMurray (where I was guaranteed it never rained), visited wineries in Okanagan and Niagara, eaten lobster on Prince Edward Island, indeed, eaten wonderful meals throughout! It was a pleasure to meet Members in Calgary, Charlottetown, Edmonton, Fredericton, Fort McMurray, Gatineau, Halifax, Kitchener, Moncton, Montreal, Niagara, Ottawa, Quebec City, Regina, Saskatoon, St. John’s, Toronto, Vancouver, Victoria, Winnipeg (apologies if I have missed any). These trips were hard work but fun, and everyone was always so generous. Thanks to all of the people that organized these trips and hosted me over the years. Wine is made to be enjoyed: it creates community and I have indeed made many friends.
Today, high-quality wines are made in many places around the world. However, the global wine trade faces some serious challenges not least that of climate change. This is of particular concern to wine, as the best quality wines are so intimately linked to their terroir and climate. Wine regions around the world are experiencing climate change in terms not only of warmer growing seasons leading to earlier ripening but more frequent extreme weather events—extended periods of drought, increased wildfires, severe spring frosts, and floods. Wine producers are having to adapt to and mitigate these. Wine has been made and enjoyed for millennia and has seen periods of crisis in the past. This decade is crucial for action. As a Master of Wine, I sincerely hope that as a trade we will rise to the challenges before us and I am working towards that. I hope that you, as wine consumers, will continue to enjoy and discover new wines and share experiences in a vibrant wine community. I raise a glass and toast you all the best. Cheers!