Inglis receives top grape-growing honour

Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the Ontario Grape and Wine Research Inc.; Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario

Debbie Inglis, centre, receives accolades from Matthias Oppenlaender, chair of the Ontario Grape and Wine Research Inc., and Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario.

One of Brock’s top scientists has been named Ontario’s 2010 Grape King.

Debbie Inglis, director of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), was named this year’s winner on Tuesday. The distinction is given to the grape grower deemed the best in Ontario for innovation and vineyard management.

It is no surprise that Inglis has been singled out for such distinction by her own peers, said President Jack Lightstone.

“Students and academic colleagues at Brock have long known that Debbie is an excellent teacher and researcher,” Lightstone said. “We are proud of how she has helped align Brock’s outreach efforts more closely to the grape and wine industry’s needs, and today we share in the celebration of this latest honour.”

Each year, grape growers in Ontario nominate peers who demonstrate excellence in vineyard management. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) and the University of Guelph judge candidates’ property and their innovative techniques. The winner is then appointed as the Grape King.

The honour means Inglis will become this year’s grape and wine ambassador, which includes promoting the industry at two major events — the 2010 Niagara Grape and Wine Festival and the 2011 Spring Okanagan Wine Festival.

Inglis said she is thrilled to be the new Grape King.

“I’ve been part of this industry from the time I was a young girl. It means the world to me and my family to accept this honour and act as an official ambassador to our world-class grape and wine industry.”

Inglis grew up in the Niagara Region in a family of grape growers. She and her husband Rob own a 20-acre vineyard planted with Chardonnay, Riesling and Cabernet Franc. One of her brothers, Steve Murdza, is co-owner of Coyote’s Run Estate Winery in St. Davids.

Inglis joined Brock’s Department of Biological Sciences in 1999. The associate professor teaches wine chemistry, wine microbiology and metabolic biochemistry in the oenology and viticulture program. Since 2008, Inglis has been the director of CCOVI while remaining one of the core researchers for the institute.

Her main research focuses on yeast stress responses during Icewine fermentation and factors affecting Icewine quality. Working in conjunction with Gary Pickering, she has initiated a research strategy to improve wine quality as part of CCOVI’s focus on premium wine production.

She and colleague Wendy McFadden-Smith are also working to understand the sour rot complex in Niagara vineyards to develop control strategies.


From left: Kimberly Hundertmark, executive director, Niagara Wine Festival; Doug Bugler, Regional Vice-President, Niagara Market, Royal Bank of Canada; Debbie Inglis; Rosemary Auld, Vice-President Agricultural and Commercial Banking, Niagara Market, Royal Bank of Canada

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