When the Wine Marketing Association of Ontario (WMAO) brought a group of influential sommeliers to Niagara to showcase the local wine industry, a stop at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute was a must.
Visiting from the U.K. and Sweden, the four wine experts were brought to campus in January by Magdalena Kaiser, Director of Public Relations — Marketing & Tourism at WMAO, in order to highlight the institute’s role in helping to raise the profile of Canadian wine. With its rich history and deep ties to the local industry, CCOVI serves as a great introduction to the industry as a whole, she said.
“I have found that organizing a visit to CCOVI at the start of a trip to visiting international sommeliers is a great way to showcase Ontario’s wine region,” Kaiser said. “It provides insight on the commitment by our industry to quality wine and also shows the collaborative nature of our industry.”
CCOVI plays an important role in promoting and supporting the province’s $4.4-billion grape and wine industry. A 2015 economic impact report showed that the institute’s outreach, research and continuing education programs and services generated an economic impact of more than $58 million for Ontario’s wine industry directly and more than $91 million to the provincial economy overall.
“CCOVI is dedicated to offering programs, services and research solutions that will help our grape and wine industry make better wine, and ultimately, raise the profile of those wines in the global marketplace,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “We work closely with our wine marketing partners to showcase the work we do at the institute with international guests so they can share what they’ve learned with their colleagues back home.”
Janet Dorozynski, who is the Trade Commissioner for Canadian wine, beer and spirits and tourism at Global Affairs Canada, works to promote the Canadian wine industry internationally.
In her role as a CCOVI Professional Affiliate, she recently gave a lecture on promoting Canada through wine tourism as part of the annual CCOVI Lecture Series at Brock. Dozens of wine industry personnel attended in person and watched online to gain insight on leveraging distinctly Canadian wine experiences to drive cellar-door sales and create life-long international ambassadors for their products. And with Ontario alone seeing more than three million visitors annually with a focus on wine country tourism, it’s something the local industry works to capitalize on.
“People travel for wine. They want an experience to taste wine and eat, so it’s about using our food and wine to create an awareness of our country that people might not otherwise have,” she explained in the lecture. “We’re known for the great outdoors and nature and all of these amazing things, so we have to capitalize on how to integrate what is known about Canada with what is less well-known about Canada.
“Along with the Niagara Icewine Festival, which has been successful in promoting Canada and our wine industry through winter activities, local wineries are also using our winter wonderland to bring people into the vineyard beyond the harvest season.”
Brock graduate Emma Garner (BSc ’04), who is the winemaker at Thirty Bench Wine Makers in Beamsville, helps co-ordinate tastings during the winery’s popular Snowshoeing in the Vineyard events, for example.
“Niagara has lots to offer during the winter months and this event has been one example that’s been very successful,” she said. “If we do not have enough snow to snowshoe, then we hike through the vineyards. Guests love either experience.”
At the end of the event, they are left with an appreciation not only for traditional Canadian winter activities, but for the diverse and world-class wines that are served all year long, she added.
CCOVI will also help put Canada and Niagara’s wine industry on the map when Brock hosts the upcoming International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS) in July 2020. Hundreds of grape and wine researchers, trade professionals and media from wine regions around the world will attend the event, which pairs rigorous scientific content with excursions to highlight the region and country.
“The ICCWS is a fantastic opportunity to showcase the cutting-edge work we are doing in Canada to combat ever-changing climatic conditions, global economics and consumer preferences,” Inglis said. “We will be able to show the world how adversity drives our industry to success through innovation and further raise the profile of our country’s grape and wine industry to our international colleagues during the conference.”