Brock’s Cuvée launches new online experience to celebrate the VQA wine industry

Put on your party attire, fire up the laptop and get ready to celebrate the Ontario VQA wine industry as Brock University moves its annual Cuvée event online.

The Cuvée 2020 Online Experience launches on Friday, May 22 at The virtual experience will feature the 48 wineries, 12 restaurants and seven breweries/cideries that were originally slated to take part in the physical Grand Tasting experience last month. The free online experience does not require tickets and will be accessible until the next Cuvée.

In videos created exclusively for the experience, participating winemakers virtually pour and reveal what they chose as their favourite wines for Cuvée, give pairing tips and share unique product signature styles that make their choices truly special.

A link to each participating winery, brewery/cidery and culinary partners’ online store will also be featured, so guests can bring the complete Cuvée Grand Tasting experience into their living rooms by placing online orders at any time.

Niagara band Jonesy also contributed a special performance video for the online experience so guests can dance the night away in an at-home version of Après Cuvée.

Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Cuvée was originally scheduled to take place on April 25 but was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Barb Tatarnic, Manager of Cuvée, says organizers worked hard to develop a fun, virtual experience so wine-lovers could still celebrate an experience they look forward to all year.

“What makes Cuvée special is its ability to bring the industry together in celebration of excellence in the Ontario VQA wine industry and, in 2020, our guests can still do that virtually, whenever they want,” she says. “Get dressed up in your best gala attire — or stay in your sweats, go to, and get ready to meet our industry partners, listen to their stories, and learn more about the labour of love that drives their craft.”

Tatarnic also says the experience helps support the wineries, breweries and restaurants that are being directly impacted by the pandemic, financially and otherwise.

“Although no one could have imagined the challenges brought about by COVID-19, it is important to now stand together, while apart, and support local industry,” she says.

Thomas Bachelder, Winemaker and Co-owner at Bachelder Niagara and Winemaker, at Le Clos Jordanne, is thrilled the opportunity to gather virtually with colleagues and friends can still take place.

“Cuvée is a moment in time — a brief shining moment, once a year — where all come together as one collegial community,” he says. “We have learned how to reach out and hug our fellow human beings virtually, and to all of you who have dreamt your ‘Cuvées’ into being but are not able to physically be together to pour them, to all of us, we say ‘Santé.’”

Cuvée also serves to honour and acknowledge successes and breakthroughs in the industry and advance vital grape and wine research — something CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis says is important now more than ever.

“Bringing Cuvée online showcases Brock’s ability to still support and celebrate our VQA wine industry while it navigates unprecedented challenges,” she says. “Being able to raise a glass together, even if only virtually, will unite us and help us emerge stronger.”

The Cuvée Online Experience also coincides with the #30DaysofVQA, an initiative created by Wine Country Ontario to promote the province’s VQA wine industry.

Proceeds from Cuvée support the Cuvée Legacy Fund, established to fund industry-driven research initiatives and scholarships for students. This year’s Cuvée Hosting Award for Academic Excellence recipient is Brock Oenology and Viticulture student Jessica Oppenlaender. All of the 2020 industry-related Cuvée awards will be presented at the next Cuvée.

Watch and follow @cuveegrandtasting and @winecountryont on social media for further information on the Cuvée 2020 Online Experience.

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