CCOVI initiative to support next generation of Brock winemakers

What dictates the style of a wine, the winemaker or the terroir?

The Great Chardo Swap, spearheaded by Brock Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) Principal Scientist Belinda Kemp in 2017, sought to answer that very question.

The initiative saw six winemakers from east of the Welland Canal making wine from Chardonnay grapes grown on the west side of the canal, and six winemakers from the west side making wine from grapes grown on the east side.

Thanks to a partnership with WineAlign, wine lovers can now explore these exclusive bottles for themselves, all while supporting the next generation of winemakers studying grape and wine science at Brock University.

Wines are available via WineAlign by the case (12 bottles) for $299 plus shipping, with $150 from each case sale donated to the Karl J. Kaiser Memorial Fund to establish scholarships for students in Brock’s Oenology and Viticulture (OEVI) program. Customers will receive a charitable receipt of $150 from Brock University via mail.

Kaiser, who graduated from Brock’s Chemistry program in 1974, was an industry pioneer and the co-founder of Inniskillin Winery. The fund was established to honour his love of learning and sharing his knowledge.

Kaiser’s impact on the Niagara and Canadian wine industry is unmatched. In addition to his 1989 Vidal Icewine being awarded the Grand Prix d’Honneur at the 1991 Vinexpo, which helped to establish Canada as a world-class wine producing region, Kaiser encouraged other producers in the region to experiment with Vitis vinifera.

CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis said it was through Kaiser’s guidance and drive that Brock created CCOVI and the OEVI undergraduate program in the 1990s.

“It was Karl’s desire for wine research and knowledge that, together with other industry innovators, led to the development of CCOVI in 1996,” said Inglis. “He was part of the industry group that developed the concept for the Institute and the OEVI undergraduate program that followed in 1997. Karl also created the OEVI wine chemistry course and was its first instructor in 1998.”

Kaiser later became a CCOVI Professional Affiliate and returned on a regular basis to give lectures and seminars. He was also a researcher, working with Inglis to understand more about Icewine fermentation and production.

Reflecting on the project, Kaiser’s family said they are grateful for everyone’s contributions and efforts to support the fund that was created in memory of the iconic Canadian winemaker.

To purchase a case of the Great Chardo Swap wines, visit WineAlign’s website.

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