Appassimento Cabernet Franc – Big Head Wines

Big Head Winery best Niagara Cabernet Franc
Big Head Winery

Appassimento Cabernet Franc in Niagara is simply outstanding

Imagine silky red cherries flowing down your throat with no tannins, just warmth. You’ve touched the roots of something enormously satisfying in an appassimento Cabernet Franc in Niagara, and then you’ve come back up for air. What just happened? You remember a rich, dark cherry smoothness that keeps going.

That is how Big Head’s 2016 Cabernet Franc feels when you first taste it. The spicy aftertaste is bright with remnants of sweetness lingering. There’s definitely a fruity sensation that’s reminiscent of cherry liqueur, making Big Head’s Cabernet Franc very satisfying.

Big Head Wines
A vineyard in Niagara-on-the-lake

Big Head Wines now offers curbside pickup and is open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. every day of the week. You can also order online and get free shipping when you order a large amount. But this article focuses on what it felt like to discover the winery in person and learn more about its Cabernet Sauvignon.

The magic of the dehydrated grape

Making Niagara’s best Cabernet Franc is all about the perfection of the dehydrated grape in action. Call it a distillation of superb taste. Big Head Wines’ proprietor and Head of Winemaking, Andrzej Lipinski, has been “a poster boy for appassimento winemaking in Ontario for many years,” says

Appassimento is a vintage air-drying technique for grapes that’s both time-intensive and fastidious in its monitoring requirements. The process makes ripe grapes’ favours much more concentrated, dense and complex.

Dehydrated grapes’ chemical composition is different from the non-dehydrated variety, according to They have higher phenolic composition, higher antioxidant activity, and more mineral content as well. But it is the technique of winemaking that affects the extraction of minerals, antioxidants and the phenolic profile.

Big Head Wines winery
Big Head Wines winery

How does appassimento make one of Niagara’s best Cabernet Franc?

I learned about appassimento-style wine from the Grimsby Lincoln News. A 2017 article described how a smaller grape drying device created by the Vineland Research and Innovation Centre and Beamsville’s Central Fabricating has made appassimento more accessible to Niagara wineries.

The article explained that the system may be able to mitigate Canada’s short growing season.

“The appassimento process partially dries grapes before they’re crushed. This allows winemakers to develop new and different flavours and more complex aromas.”

Luke Edwards, Grimsby Lincoln News

Big Head Wines has been a prominent user of the facilities for a while, putting over 100 tons of grapes through the appassimento process. Lipinski stated that the process enables them to handle the grapes less, reducing the incidence of spoilage.

I can’t really say enough about Big Head Wines and what I’ve discovered about the secret behind Niagara’s best Cabernet Franc. There are definitely other great Cab Francs made in Niagara, but this one really stands out.

The aroma suggests something woodsy, smelling like pine and high-quality wood. The first taste surprises you with a burst of sweet, dark cherries and strawberries, thick and rich in taste but of course like regular wine in actual texture.

It’s a bit like having climbed inside of a tree to access its rare, fruity sap, then borrowing under the grass to follow the roots of the unique cherry taste you just discovered. Then suddenly landing on a plateau back above the trees and fruits again, with your palate cleansed. You feel renewed, ready for the next sip.

Big Head Wines location

Big Head Wines is located in central Niagara-on-the-lake at 304 Hunter Road. It is a cozy place that also has an industrial feel. There’s a commitment to art that comes from perfect work, that you can feel the minute you walk into their space.

This commitment is reflected in the winery’s visual brand, where things fit together in a perfect machine. Except the winery isn’t a machine at all – Big Head’s wines are art made from knowing what to do with fruit grown from the earth.

Every time my friends and I go there, people are working. There’s nowhere to loll about, no corner to unobtrusively hide in to observe what the operation is all about. As if deliberately, there is an absence of chairs placed under nearby trees to slumber in and people-watch. We could feel friendliness, serious dedication, and great energy. Big Head Wines’ website greets you with its mission statement:

Where passion, hard work, and Big Heads unite.

Big Head Wines

Big Head Wines is a place where the art form is in the work. Certainly, the product that results from their work is perfection in my books.

Big Head Wines, 304 Hunter Rd., Niagara-on-the-lake, ON L0S 1J0 1-905-468-4321, [email protected]