The Cuvée 2020 Online Experience has received $11,000 in funding support from the provincial government’s Celebrate Ontario program.
Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the online experience was developed to allow the annual showcase of high-quality Ontario VQA wines and local cuisine to safely take place in the wake of COVID-19. As they were unable to host the in-person gala earlier this year, organizers quickly worked to launch an online platform featuring unique video content from local winemakers, an online musical performance and the opportunity to purchase VQA wines and takeaway dishes to enjoy at home.
In 2020, the Celebrate Ontario grant supported festival and event organizers with events that had to be rescheduled, postponed or reprogrammed in light of the pandemic. Cuvée gained its support due to its ability to quickly pivot and provide both a unique experience for its guests, as well as a platform to showcase and support the grape and wine industry.
“Celebrate Ontario is one way this government is helping sustain festivals and events so they can continue to contribute to vibrant communities,” says Hon. Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries. “Festivals and events are important parts of Ontario’s double bottom line, contributing to our cultural fabric and pride of place while supporting economic growth.”
Cuvée Manager Barb Tatarnic says organizers are grateful for this support from the Ontario Government, as it solidifies the important role that events like Cuvée play in supporting students, the grape and wine industry, and the provincial economy.
“This funding supported us in the development of a fun and innovative platform to safely celebrate excellence in VQA winemaking in the face of the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19,” she says. “Every year, Cuvée highlights the talents of our amazing grape and wine community. In 2020, it also showcased that industry’s extraordinary capacity for passion, resilience and fortitude, while giving us the ability to connect with one another — even if only virtually — which is so important right now.”
Forty-eight wineries, 12 culinary partners and headline band Jonesy came together to participate in the Online Experience. More than 1,300 online visitors tuned in to the programming, and the “Winemakers’ Favourites” videos featured on the platform gathered more than 900 views on YouTube.
Debbie Inglis, Director of CCOVI, says the funding support allowed Cuvée organizers to continue the long-standing tradition of both celebrating and supporting the $4.4-billion Ontario grape and wine industry.
“We are grateful that we could develop an innovate way to still host Cuvée in 2020 as it has become a highly anticipated staple for wine lovers’ calendars for the past 32 years,” she says. “This funding support is a testament to the hard work done by our event organizers, the value our guests place in Cuvée and its contribution to supporting the province’s thriving grape and wine industry.”