Interview With The Winemaker At Lightning Rock Winery – Sébastien Hotte

8th April 2024

Interview With The Winemaker At Lightning Rock Winery Sébastien Hotte

Wine isn’t just made, it’s crafted by the unwavering expertise of a Winemaker, sometimes old traditions are passed down by generations and on other occasions, new people venture into the industry, introducing us to new creations, this series of Winemaker Interviews will help you uncover the vast world and skills of how the artists passionate about wine make the world a bubbly place.

In this feature we speak with Sébastien Hotte, the talented Winemaker at Lightning Rock Winery in Canada, let’s discover a little about his time as a Winemaker in the Canadian Wine Industry.

It’s Great To Speak With You, Sébastien, Can You Tell Us A Bit About Yourself & How You Became Involved In The Wine Industry?

“Good day Oliver, thank you for reaching out to us. It is not every day a small Canadian winery such as Lightning Rock is showcased on a platform like yours. We truly appreciate your journey into sparkling wine.

My journey into wine can be described as an adventure led by passion and curiosity. I initially started as a ‘ski-bum’ following my passion and love for winter while working in restaurants. As I progressed into the restaurant industry my curiosity for wine took over and brought me on a path to being a sommelier working in acclaimed establishments. With time I became even more curious and decided to dive into winemaking. After a few harvests, it became a fully-fledged passion and I haven’t looked back since.”

What Part Of The Wine Making Process Do You Enjoy The Most?

“Easy enough question to answer, Harvest! I often describe the joy and excitement of harvest as similar to Christmas time for a child. It only happens once a year and the anticipation in regards to it is just great. As we are a small winery, my focus is also in our vineyards. Working long hours to farm fruit that is of optimal quality is our goal and it feels incredible once we are finally able to get the fruit in the cellar and get working on crafting wines.”

As A Winemaker, What Has Been Your Hardest Obstacle To Overcome In Producing Wine?

“Unexpectedly the biggest obstacles I’ve had and still have to overcome are not related to the production of wine itself but more the human factors involved in the production. Let me explain; every vintage offers different and unique challenges but I find mitigating expectations can be at times difficult. As winemakers we can spend a whole season thinking about a style of wine we might want to make and in a matter of days or hours nature throws us a curve ball and our plans are needing to change. It can be heartbreaking but we have to adapt, move on and create a whole new vision that will be as enjoyable. Over time I’ve learnt to lessen my expectations and work on being positive regardless of the outcome.”

How Do You Determine When Your Wine Is Ready To Drink?

“For us at Lightning Rock Winery, we determine our disgorging dates based on tasting the wines throughout their élevages. We will normally start monthly tastings at 12 months of ageing.

Depending on the style or profile we are looking to achieve the wines will either be disgorged earlier, for a youthful and energetic wine, or with longer ageing time, for a more rich and round experience.”

When It Comes To Pairing Sparkling Wine With Food, Do You Have Any Favourite Combinations That You Would Personally Recommend?

“I am of the mindset that wine pairings are really up to individual preferences. Obviously, there are some classical pairings, but why not just enjoy your favourite bottle of wine with your favourite dish. And let’s be honest, there is a sparkling wine for every occasion and dish!”

Can You Share With Us One Of The Most Memorable Experiences You’ve Enjoyed With A Glass of Bubbly?

“I’ve been lucky enough to taste many great sparkling wines, but one experience that I will always cherish is my first taste of Krug. Up until that point, I hadn’t tasted a really rich full bodied experience of Champagne like Krug. It definitely changed my perspective of sparkling wine styles. Furthermore, this wine was appreciated with great friends enjoying views of the Pacific Ocean while eating taquitos. You can’t ask for anything better.”

Thank you Sébastien, for sharing your story and experiences with us and we at Glass of Bubbly wish you the very best for the future!

Images belong to Sébastien Hotte & Lightning Rock Winery. Glass of Bubbly was granted permission to use them.

Oliver Walkey

Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.