Media releases

  • Top VQA wine promoters honoured at Experts Tasting

    Media Release: 3 May 2018, R00095

    More than 125 wine writers, educators and industry professionals gathered at Brock Wednesday, May 2 for the 29th annual Experts Tasting.

    Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the tasting promotes Ontario VQA wine and celebrates individuals who have made contributions to growing and promoting the grape and wine industry.

    The 2018 tasting focused on Cabernet Franc and examined the 2013 to 2016 vintages. Five flights showcased a total of 33 wines with industry experts guiding the attendees through the tasting.

    “The Experts Tasting has become a pivotal educational opportunity for guests to taste and learn alongside their peers in the industry,” said Barb Tatarnic, organizer of the event and Manager of Outreach and Continuing Education at CCOVI. “Cabernet Franc is considered one of the core varietals for this region and having the tasting showcase multiple vintages clearly showed what this variety can bring to the Ontario industry year after year.”

    The event also honours individuals who help raise the profile of Ontario wine with VQA Promoter Awards, which acknowledge individuals who celebrate, through promotion and/or education, the Ontario VQA wine industry with unselfish enthusiasm, constructive input and unsolicited promotion.

    The lifetime achievement award was presented posthumously to Ontario wine industry pioneer and winemaker Karl Kaiser by CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis.

    “There would be few in this room who would not recognize the pivotal contributions that Karl made to our VQA wine industry,” Inglis said. “From putting Canada on the map as a wine-producing nation to changing the landscape of agriculture in Niagara, he showed us what could be crafted with the grapes that we grow here. He helped drive this industry forward to be what it is today.”

    Kaiser’s daughters Andrea and Magdalena accepted the award on behalf of his family. Magdalena was also recognized for her own contributions to promoting and raising the profile of VQA wines in the promoter-at-large category, marking the first time a father and daughter have been recognized in the same year.

    When Brock grad Ivone de Marchi (BSc ’72) learned of the passing of his former lab partner Kaiser (BSc ’74) last fall, it struck a chord with him. He wanted to honour Kaiser with a portrait, and on Wednesday the painting was unveiled and then gifted to Brock to hang in Inniskillin Hall.

    CCOVI Viticulturist Jim Willwerth was recognized in the education category for the opportunities he provides grape growers and winemakers in support of Ontario VQA wines through his outreach and research work.

    The 2018 VQA Promoter Award winners in each category are:

    • Education: Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Scientist, Brock University
    • Hospitality: Sarah Scott, Manager of Dining Operations, Benchmark Restaurant
    • LCBO: Brittany Gregory, Product Consultant, LCBO Store #381, Kitchener
    • Media: André Proulx, Radio Producer and Wine Writer, Two Guys Talking Wine
    • Out-of-Ontario: Ian D’Agata, Wine Writer and Director of the International Wine Academy
    • Promoter-at-Large: Magdalena Kaiser, Director of Public Relations – Tourism and Marketing, Wine Marketing Association of Ontario
    • Retail: Tim Coons, Estate Manager, Trius Winery and Restaurant and Wayne Gretzky Estates
    • Lifetime Achievement: Awarded posthumously to Karl Kaiser, winemaker and wine industry pioneer

    2018 VQA Promoters award winners (from left): Tim Coons, retail; Andrea Kaiser on behalf of Karl Kaiser’s family, lifetime achievement; Jim Willwerth, education; Magdalena Kaiser, promoter-at-large; Brittany Gregory, LCBO; Sarah Scott, hospitality. Absent from the photo are André Proulx, media, and Ian D’Agata, out-of-Ontario promoter.

    Brock alumnus Ivone De Marchi presents CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis with the portrait he created to honour his former classmate Karl Kaiser, which will hang in Inniskillin Hall.

    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • Inaugural Winemaker of Excellence awarded at packed Cuvée Grand Tasting

    Media Release: 26 March 2018, R00061

    The Cuvée Grand Tasting rang in a milestone 30th anniversary by bringing more than 800 guests together to celebrate excellence in the thriving Ontario wine industry.

    Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), a record crowd came to the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls on Friday, March 23 to sample from the largest selection of Ontario wines under one roof and taste unique culinary dishes from local chefs.

    “The strong turnout of guests from across Southern Ontario year-after-year truly showcases the importance of our grape and wine industry and the strong level of support it garners from our community,” said Cuvée manager Barb Tatarnic.

    The Grand Tasting also honors the talented people who work in the $4.4 billion Ontario grape and wine industry.

    The inaugural Winemaker of Excellence Award winner was Angelo Pavan, chosen in a unanimous decision for his major contributions to the industry, his commitment to excellence and his mentorship to winemakers across Canada.

    Pavan, Vice-President, Winemaker and Founding Partner at Cave Spring Cellars, is known for his encyclopedic understanding of viticulture in Niagara. He was among the first in the province to work with numerous grape varieties and was a pioneer in the quest to improve wine quality and sustainability in vinifera varieties.

    “It is humbling to be the first recipient of this great award,” said Pavan. “It validates the passion, time, effort and commitment of over 30 years dedicated to this great wine growing region and having participated in its evolution to international recognition.”

    Pavan is also a founding member and Chair of the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) Standards Development Committee and has played a key role in determining the most suitable winemaking practices applicable in Ontario. As the founding Chair of the International Riesling Experience, held in conjunction with CCOVI, Pavan has also been instrumental in solidifying Niagara’s place as one of the world’s pre-eminent Riesling producing regions.

    Teamwork and collaboration is also key to success, he stressed, adding “to be successful and to be acknowledged for your work, one needs to contribute to the industry at large and not just your own operation.”

    This year’s Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence Award went to Albrecht Seeger, an eighth-generation grape grower in Niagara-on-the-Lake and sitting member on the Ontario Grape and Wine Research Technical Committee. Sponsored by BASF Canada Inc., the award recognizes a grape grower who promotes excellence in vineyard practices.

    “BASF believes that we achieve excellence not just by using current practices to their fullest potential, but by looking for new innovations to continuously improve and evolve,” said Scott Hodgins, Crop Manager, Horticulture for BASF Canada Inc. “The Vineyard of Excellence Award provides the opportunity to celebrate others in the industry who do the same.”

    Alongside his wife Anja Bertelmann, Albrecht maintains a sprawling 150-acre vineyard of premium Vitis vinifera grape varieties and has made viticulture his life’s work. He is dedicated to being a grape grower in Ontario, which he calls “one of the best regions in the world to grow grapes.”

    CCOVI Senior Scientist Jim Willwerth said Seegar is “truly deserving of the Vineyard of Excellence Award.”

    “His vineyard is meticulously managed right down to the finest detail,” Willwerth said. “Albrecht strives to produce grapes of the highest quality destined for world class wine and this was demonstrated in every way throughout the evaluation process.”

    The Tony Aspler Cuvée Award of Excellence, presented to the individual or institution that best furthers the aims and aspirations of Ontario’s wine industry, was awarded to Sue-Ann Staff. She is a fifth-generation Niagara grape grower and internationally recognized winemaker who has won some of the most respected wine competitions in the world. Staff worked for several Niagara wineries before creating her own eponymous facility, and Tony Aspler said she has since become an “articulate ambassador for the Ontario wine region on the international stage.”

    Cuvée also celebrates the next generation of winemakers and grape growers by providing scholarships to Brock University Oenology and Viticulture students through the Cuvée Legacy Fund.

    The Cuvée Scholarship winners are:

    • Cuvée Hosting Award for Academic Excellence: Grant McKinnon
    • Cuvée Award for Academic Excellence: Nick Pappas
    • Cuvée Award for Academic Excellence in OEVC: Carol McLennan
    • Cuvée Graduate Scholarship: Andréanne HébertHaché

    “We are pleased to provide these funding opportunities and industry recognition for the very deserving students of Brock’s Oenology and Viticulture program,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “The Cuvée Grand Tasting is a full-circle celebration of excellence in our industry, honoring the best and brightest in the business today, and looking forward to those who will shape the industry in the future.”

    Donald Ziraldo, right, presents Angelo Pavan, Vice-President, Winemaker and Founding Partner at Cave Spring Cellars, with the inaugural Cuvée Winemaker of Excellence Award Friday, March 23 in Niagara Falls.

    More than 800 guests took part in the 30th anniversary edition of the Cuvée Grand Tasting Friday, March 23 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Tickets selling fast for Ontario’s biggest VQA celebration

    MEDIA RELEASE: 19 march 2018 –R00057

    The wines have been chosen and Ontario’s top winemakers are ready to pour their favourites this Friday, March 23 at the 30th annual Cuvée Grand Tasting.

    Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the Cuvée Grand Tasting takes place at Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls and is expected to be another sold-out affair. The event is the largest celebration of VQA wine of its kind, and highlights the $4.4-billion Ontario wine industry.

    “We’ll have 48 of Ontario’s best and brightest VQA wineries on hand this year pouring two of their winemakers’ favourite wines for our guests to enjoy,” said Cuvée manager Barb Tatarnic. “Local chefs will also be serving our guests a variety of tantalizing culinary options that are sure to excite every palate as we celebrate this 30-year milestone.”

    As well as providing the opportunity to showcase VQA wines to consumers, Cuvée also provides future grape growers and winemakers the chance to interact directly with key industry players.

    The event generated

    more than $37,000 for the fund in 2017 alone.

    “Winning the Graduate Scholarship last year was a tremendous honour and the recognition amongst elite contributors to the wine industry was quite surreal,” said Brock PhD candidate Jennifer Kelly, a beneficiary of the Cuvée Legacy Fund. “It’s such a fun event and offers a unique opportunity for students to access people they may otherwise never have a chance to meet. It also allows everyone to connect with industry friends who are rarely all in one place.”

    Champions in the province’s wine industry will also be showcased at the event, including the first-ever Winemaker of Excellence award. The winner will be announced live before the evening’s popular Après Cuvée begins. Guests are then invited to dance the rest of the

    Proceeds from the event support the Cuvée Legacy Fund, which was established to fund

    industry-driven research initiatives and scholarships for students.

    evening away to live music from local band The Associates, as well as sample Icewine, sparkling wine, cider and local craft beer selections.

    The Cuvée en Route passport program will extend the wine celebration all weekend long running from March 23 to 25 at participating wineries across Niagara. A complete list of participating wineries at the Grand Tasting and en Route can be found at

    Tickets, which include both the Friday night Grand Tasting and the en Route passport are available online at for $200 per person. Tickets for the en Route passport only are $30.

    For those attending the Grand Tasting, a free shuttle service will be available to bring guests from the Scotiabank Convention Centre parking lot right to the front doors.

    NOTE: Media interested in attending Cuvée Friday are asked to RSVP as soon as possible to Media Relations Officer Dan Dakin below.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

    Brock oenology and viticulture student, Genevieve Dublow, is among the numerous student volunteers who participate in Cuvée by working directly with the industry’s top winemakers during the Grand Tasting. This year’s Cuvée event is taking place Friday, March 23 at Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock set to share cutting-edge wine research with return of CCOVI Lecture Series

    MEDIA RELEASE: 10 JANUARY 2018 –R00006

    Wine aficionados from around the world can soak up Brock University’s leading grape and wine research as the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) Lecture Series returns for its 11th year.

    Ten speakers from across CCOVI’s network of researchers, scientists, fellows and professional affiliates are participating in this year’s series. Topics will span a wide range from the debate over screw cap versus cork closures on wine bottles, to why we buy certain sparkling wines and the latest research on cold hardiness, leaf removal impacts and extracting polyphenolics during ice syrup production.

    The series has become a highly anticipated event both locally and for those accessing the lecture remotely through livestreaming capabilities. In 2017, the CCOVI Lecture Series garnered more than 1,200 views from 51 countries around the world.

    “We are pleased to once again bring the latest in grape and wine research from the lab to the classroom,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “Sharing knowledge and providing outreach opportunities like the lecture series is an important part of CCOVI’s mandate and is of tremendous benefit to our industry and our students.”

    The series will begin Monday, Jan. 15 with a special presentation of the late Karl Kaiser’s popular talk, “Pinot Noir: The savage yet seductive grape,” by Flat Rock Cellars winemaker David Sheppard.

    Having worked predominantly on Pinot Noir production alongside Kaiser at Inniskillin makes Sheppard uniquely qualified to pay tribute to the industry icon though sharing his still-relevant lecture with a new audience.

    “Being able to once again share Karl Kaiser’s lecture and record it for future generations to access is so exciting,” said Inglis. “He was a gifted educator and there is no better way to pay tribute to his life’s work than beginning our lecture series by educating a new generation.”

    The free lectures start at 2 p.m. every Monday and will take place in room H313 of the Mackenzie Chown complex at Brock University. Paid parking is available in the nearby Lot E. The lectures will also be available to watch online by visiting

    For more information and to see archived lecture videos, visit the CCOVI Lecture Series website.

    2018 CCOVI Lecture Series:

    Jan. 15:  David Sheppard, Winemaker, Flat Rock Cellars
    “Pinot Noir: The savage yet seductive grape.”

    Jan. 22: Janet Dorozynski, Trade Commissioner, Canadian Wine, Beer, Spirits and Tourism at Global Affairs Canada
    “Promoting Canada internationally through wine and food.”

    Jan. 29: Belinda Kemp, CCOVI Senior Oenologist, Brock University
    How method, timing and severity of leaf removal impacts Cabernet franc wine flavour.”

    Feb. 5: Ronald Jackson, Wine Writer, Author
    “Get corked (the intricacies of cork closures and their alternatives).”

    Feb. 12: Annette Nassuth, Associate Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology, College of Biological Sciences, University of Guelph
    “Do grapes SCREAM for frost tolerance?”

    Feb. 26: Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Senior Viticulturist, Brock University
    “Effects of abscisic acid form, concentration and application timing on grapevine cold hardiness.”

    Mar. 5: George Soleas, President and CEO at LCBO

    Mar. 12: Tek Thongpapanl, Professor of Marketing and Product Innovation,
    Marketing, International Business & Strategy, Goodman School of Business, Brock University
    “Why we buy the sparkling wine that we buy.”

    Mar. 19: Baozhong Meng, Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph
    “Grapevine viruses, their impact and their distribution in Ontario.”

    Mar. 26: Jeff Stuart, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Mathematics and Science, Brock University
    “Sweet, sticky, and healthy — using metabolomics to develop a ‘green’ protocol for extracting resveratrol and other polyphenolics from the waste pomace of ice syrup production.”


    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

     Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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    Flat Rock Cellars Winemaker David Sheppard, left, with the late Karl Kaiser. Sheppard will kick off the 2018 CCOVI Lecture Series Monday, Jan. 15 by giving a talk originally presented by Kaiser titled “Pinot Noir: The savage yet seductive grape.”

    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • Ontario grant helps Brock create first-of-its-kind wine sensory lab

    MEDIA RELEASE: 8 january 2018 –R00004

    The Ontario Government has announced $960,000 in funding to help Brock University create the world’s first augmented reality, virtual reality and sensory reality consumer laboratory.

    The new money from the Ontario Research Fund matches a recent federal grant, and combines with support from the grape and wine industry that will enable Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) to launch the landmark facility, to be known as the R3CL.

    The Ontario grant was announced Monday, Jan. 8 by Reza Moridi, the Minister of Research, Innovation and Science. The $1-million R3CL lab is part of a $2.4-million project that will greatly enhance CCOVI’s research and studies into fermentation, wine flavor and consumer behavior.

    Moridi said Monday the Brock lab is one of 53 projects at 17 post-secondary institutions the province is investing nearly $137 million in through the Ontario Research Fund.

    “We are pleased that the Ontario government recognizes the important role Brock University’s research plays in helping Ontario’s grape and wine industry be more strategic and successful in a competitive global marketplace,” said Brock University President Gervan Fearon.

    After making the announcement Monday, Moridi was invited to test out the virtual reality technology that will be included in the $1-million R3CL (Physical, Augmented and Virtual Reality Consumer Lab), which will be used to create a variety of environments in which people purchase and consume wines. Researchers will study how a range of factors such as sights, sounds and smells impact choice and impression of wine.

    “Supporting Ontario’s researchers as they make breakthrough discoveries will help advance technology and drive economic growth across the province,” said Moridi. “Making sure they are working in state-of-the-art facilities with the most up-to-date technology will help researchers do their best work and lay the groundwork for new products and services, and economic opportunity for people in Ontario.”

    The $2.4-million project also includes expanding the capacity of CCOVI’s research winery to include a state-of-the-art fermentation facility, as well as the purchase of several advanced analytical instruments required for grape and wine flavour and aroma analysis.

    “We’re thrilled to see that addressing the research priorities of the grape and wine industry is in direct alignment with the provincial priorities of supporting world-class research, commercialization and innovation,” said Brock University Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon.

    CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis said the research at Brock has a direct impact on Ontario’s $4.4-billion wine industry.

    “CCOVI’s research tackles priority areas of the grape and wine industry. By working together between the government, academia and industry, we’re able to put forward solutions that help drive our economy forward,” said Inglis, pointing out that a recent economic impact study found CCOVI contributed more than $91 million and the equivalent of 307 jobs to Ontario’s economy.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

     * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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    Categories: Media releases

  • Funding announcement scheduled for Monday at Brock

    THURSDAY, JANUARY 04, 2018

    Ontario Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, Reza Moridi will join Brock University President Gervan Fearon and others Monday for a significant provincewide funding announcement that will include Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute.

    The announcement will take place Monday at 10:30 a.m. in Brock’s Mackenzie Chown Complex, H Block Room 313.

    What: Brock University research funding announcement

    Who: Minister of Research, Innovation and Science, Reza Moridi and Brock University President Gervan Fearon

    Where: Brock University, Mackenzie Chown Complex, H Block Room 313

    When: Monday, Jan. 8, 10:30 a.m.

    Read more

    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • As cider booms, Brock’s CCOVI continues to be a key industry partner

    MEDIA RELEASE: 14 December 2017 – R00236

    Grocery stores across the province are vying to be one of 95 new retailers authorized to sell cider to Ontario consumers next year.

    With Ontario’s thirst for cider far from quenched, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) continues to be at the forefront of advancing the booming industry.

     CCOVI is the only institution in Canada to offer a certification in cider production through the Cider Institute of North America, and it also provides analytical testing services to help cider makers deliver the best product possible.

    CCOVI’s Continuing Education Manager Barb Tatarnic says that pairing the foundational educational program with testing services brings a holistic approach to the learning process.

    “CCOVI has been able to branch out into an industry that is important here in Niagara and all across Canada,” Tatarnic says. “By delivering the foundational learning elements and then providing the opportunity to test the finished product, we are ensuring cider makers are delivering the quality of product their communities are looking for.”

    Maintaining quality from the orchard through to the consumer’s glass is especially crucial when dealing with cider because the product is less established with consumers, adds CCOVI’s Steven Trussler.

    “If a consumer tries a faulted product they may simply decide they don’t like cider and that’s a lost customer,” says Trussler, who is the CINA certified instructor in the institute’s cider program. “Having that baseline of knowledge across the country helps producers make a higher-quality product and increases the number of cider consumers, which benefits everyone.”

    Cole Ford, lead cider maker at Shiny Apple Cider in Niagara-on-the-Lake, uses a range of services provided by CCOVI as a quality control measure for his products.

     “The services provided by CCOVI allow us access to fast, reliable and consistent results, which, for a small-to-medium-sized business like Shiny Apple, is key in providing our consumer the kind of cider they have come to expect from us,” he says. 

     Ford also says the industry is changing as fast as it is expanding. This forces producers like him to constantly learn new things in order to provide cider products that satisfy changing consumer demands.

     “Education is key to improving any industry, and having more courses and more diversity in those courses can only help improve Ontario’s cider industry,” he adds. 

     With that in mind, CCOVI will be expanding its cider offerings to include more advanced courses in the near future. This would add to the growing number of continuing education courses now offered by the institute, which has more than tripled over the past year. The number of people accessing those courses has also increased significantly, rising from 77 in 2016 to 247 in 2017.

     “You can’t stand still when it comes to the direction the industry is evolving,” says Tatarnic. “They always want to learn more, and we want to be at the forefront for those next offerings and learning opportunities.”

     After attending a masterclass in advanced cider production last month, taught by renowned cider expert Peter Mitchell at Cornell University, Tatarnic says the seeds were sown for CCOVI to take that next step in further educating the industry.

     Mitchell says he’s glad to see such significant growth in the Canadian cider industry and that Brock is in the perfect position to further drive that industry forward.

     “As part of the Cider Institute of North America, Brock is uniquely placed and appropriately resourced to take a leading role in Canada in the provision of training, skills and technology development and transfer to new and aspiring cider and perry production enterprises,” he says. 

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

     * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

     – 30 –




    Categories: Media releases

  • CCOVI’s Fizz Club goes national as it toasts five years at Brock

    media release: 13 December 2017 – R00235

    As wine consumers begin pondering which bottle of bubbly to serve this holiday season, 40 winemakers from across Canada gathered at Brock University to swap secrets for making the best sparkling wine.

    The fifth anniversary of the annual Fizz Club, organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), took place Thursday, Dec. 7 in Inniskillin Hall.

    Restricted to sparkling winemakers only, the sold-out event allowed those in the industry to discuss triumphs and challenges and to learn about new research projects taking place at CCOVI and around the world.

    The theme this year was From Field to Fizz, which took a vine-to-glass approach for the first time by including research and discussions on both viticulture practices and winemaking, including CCOVI research on leaf removal, clones and soil type trials and their impact on sparkling wine quality.

    CCOVI senior oenologist Belinda Kemp, who has been organizing the event since its inception in 2013, said she is excited by how much it has grown.

    “When we started this, there were fewer than 40 wineries making sparkling in the province and most of the winemakers who attended Fizz Club were based in Niagara,” she said. “Five years later, the event continues to sell out and we have winemakers coming from all across Canada, which is fantastic.”

    The growth in popularity of Fizz Club is reflective of the massive growth in the sparkling wine industry. As Kemp pointed out, the number of wineries with a sparkling wine program in Ontario has ballooned to 90 and is constantly increasing. This year’s Fizz Club drew in attendees from across Ontario as well as B.C. and Nova Scotia.

    According to the Canadian Vintner’s Association, the highest VQA wine growth category over the past year was sparkling rosé and sparkling white wine, with 12.5 per cent and 5.2 per cent growth, respectively.

    Norm Cole, owner of Artus Bottling in Penticton, B.C., said he made the trip to Fizz Club after hearing buzz about it from the west coast wine industry.

    “Like Ontario, there’s a huge thirst for sparkling wine knowledge in B.C.,” said Cole, whose company produces sparkling wine for wineries across the province. “It’s not easy to keep winemakers sitting in a room for a full day, but Fizz Club kept their attention that whole time. That tells you something.”

    Brock grad Emilie Aubie (OEVC ’13), who is currently a winemaker at Andrew Peller Limited, said it was great to come back to Brock and learn about CCOVI’s new research, which was shared by Kemp and CCOVI senior viticulturist Jim Willwerth.

    “You really see such a difference in those research wines that we tasted and it’s really exciting to know that what you do out in the vineyard really impacts the final product,” she said. “We all know that it does, but you can’t do the kinds of research trials that CCOVI does in the winery, so it’s exciting to see the viticulture differences play out in the wines.”

    Thomas Bachelder, who attended Fizz Club for the first time this year, agreed that having access to the latest research is extremely beneficial to the winemaking process.

    “It’s special because we don’t have this, that I know of, for any other wines and it’s great that Brock is giving us this platform,” he said. “Even the long-term winemakers with a lot of experience are here because they are in awe of what’s being done. We can’t do this on our own — we’re producers not researchers — so it’s great to see the research on this broader scale from CCOVI.”

    Bachelder, who has worked both in the local wine industry as well as internationally in Chile and France, said he is excited about the explosion of the sparkling wine market in Canada.

    He explained that Canada’s cool climate and unique terroir makes it well-suited for creating world class sparkling wines.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

     * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

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    Categories: Media releases

  • University research saving Ontario vineyards one grape bud at a time

    Media Release: 29 November 2017 – R00226

    With erratic temperatures and extreme weather events on the rise, researchers at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) are working to make vineyards across the region more resilient to climate change.

    After experiencing an unusually mild October, southern Ontario was blasted with a mass of frigid air that caused a record-breaking cold snap in early November — putting grapevines at risk for early frost injury.

    When the mercury plummeted, CCOVI researchers were already out in the vineyards collecting bud hardiness data for the VineAlert program. By also collecting data on grape bud survival rates after cold weather events, the Institute is able to give growers direction on how to manage any damage vines may have sustained.

    “Thankfully, we had some data available and it didn’t get cold enough to damage the vines based on our preliminary bud survival data,” said Jim Willwerth, CCOVI’s senior viticulturist, “but the extreme variances in temperature are especially problematic when the grapevines are early in their cold acclimation process.”

    Now in its ninth year, the VineAlert program tracks a grape bud’s ability to survive cold temperatures over the dormant season, from October to April, across Ontario’s key grape producing regions.

    During that period, alerts indicating which grape varieties may see damage during a cold weather event are sent out to growers and researchers. This allows them to determine when they should utilize their wind machines or other freeze-avoidance technologies.

    Kevin Donohue (BSc ’94), Vineyard Manager at Colio Estate Wines located on the north shore of Lake Erie, said the alert system acts as confirmation that the weather conditions warrant running his wind machine.

    “VineAlert allows us to correlate real-time weather data with what is actually going on in the field,” said Donohue, who also graduated from Brock’s Grape and Wine Technology certificate program in 2002. “We can adjust some of our strategies for field operations to help us to get to the safest level of dormancy going into the winter months.”

    Willwerth said monitoring the hardiness of the region’s grape buds is especially crucial in periods with volatile temperature fluctuations, including the shift from the cold below-average temperatures of early November to the above-seasonal temperatures experienced at present.

    “With all these ups and downs in temperature, we worry the plants won’t acclimate well or they might de-acclimate prematurely, leading to spring frost injury,” he explained.

    As weather patterns continue to become more unpredictable, it’s also important to monitor conditions on a long-term, historical basis in order to use that data to understand and predict the vines’ response. That’s why CCOVI researchers will be sampling more grape buds than usual this year in order to further bolster their cold hardiness database.

    The goal is to improve predictive modelling to help growers better understand how their vines will react during erratic weather conditions.

    Willwerth said the years of data will help researchers “further understand how growing season and variable winter conditions impact hardiness, which will allow us to better protect the vines and better understand how viticulture may change in the future.”

    Willwerth operates the VineAlert program along with CCOVI Professional Affiliate Kevin Ker, of KCMS Applied Research and Consulting, and CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:
    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970
    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.
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    Categories: Media releases

  • Karl Kaiser left indelible mark on Brock University

    MEDIA RELEASE: 24 November 2017 – R00219

    The Brock University community is mourning the death of a national figure and longtime associate who helped forge Brock’s leading role in grape and wine research, while also turning Niagara into a world-renowned wine region.

    Inniskillin Winery co-founder Karl J. Kaiser, an industry pioneer and a key figure behind Brock’s oenology and viticulture programs, passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 22. He was 76 years old.

    Kaiser’s impact on the Niagara and Canadian wine industry is unmatched, and it was through his guidance and drive that Brock created the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and the Oenology and Viticulture (OEVI) undergraduate program in the 1990s, said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis.

    “Karl truly believed that a successful wine region needed a research institute to support it,” said Inglis. “And he was passionate about passing his knowledge on to the next generation.”

    Kaiser’s love of wine research and his connection to Brock, where he graduated from in 1974, was something he took pride in.

    “I always felt very honoured by being a part of Brock’s CCOVI as an affiliate,” Kaiser wrote in his final email to CCOVI Communications Specialist Sarah Moore recently. “It always has been great enjoyment being part of CCOVI in this way.”

    Born in Austria in 1941, Kaiser immigrated to Canada in 1969 with his wife Silvia. After graduating from Brock’s chemistry program in 1974, Kaiser was experimenting with winemaking, which led to a connection with Donald Ziraldo, a greenhouse owner who was providing Kaiser with grapes for his hobby.

    “They both believed Ontario could produce better wine,” said Inglis, who first met Kaiser when she was 14 and working on her family’s grape farm.

    Receiving the first Ontario winery licence since 1920, Kaiser and Ziraldo launched Inniskillin Winery in 1975, and began making wines that would ultimately put Canada on the world map for the industry. The difference between what Inniskillin was making and what was being produced in Ontario was the use of Vitis vinifera wine grapes rather than lower quality juice grapes.

    “It was a huge change for what was known in the industry at the time. But it was through their initiatives that the industry started to transform and we gained notoriety and respect,” Inglis said.

    The biggest turning point came in the 1980s, when Kaiser and a handful of other Niagara winemakers started experimenting with icewine production. Kaiser’s 1989 Inniskillin Vidal Icewine won the highest-available prize at the 1991 Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France, putting the international spotlight on the Canadian wine industry and establishing Kaiser as the world’s leading expert on icewine. He also loved the challenge of making high-quality Pinot Noir in Niagara, a passion he carried with him throughout his career.

    The winemaker was given the Order of Ontario in 1993, was awarded an honorary doctorate from Brock in 1994, and was the recipient of Brock’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2005 and the Faculty of Math and Science Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009. Kaiser was also honoured with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s 50th Anniversary Golden Jubilee Award and the Ontario Wine Society Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005.

    “He was never comfortable being in the limelight and taking acknowledgement for all that he achieved and what he put forward,” said Inglis. “He was a very understated individual.”

    It was Kaiser’s desire for wine research and knowledge that, together with other industry pioneers, led to the development of CCOVI in 1996. He was part of the industry group that developed the concept for the institute that year, as well as the OEVI undergrad program that followed in 1997.

    Kaiser developed the OEVI wine chemistry course and was its first instructor in 1998. He became a CCOVI Professional Affiliate and returned on a regular basis to give lectures and seminars, the videos of which are still among the program’s most downloaded.

    Rob Power, a student in that first wine chemistry course, said it was both cool and slightly intimidating to be taught by one of the country’s best and most well-known winemakers.

    “The best parts of the class were when Karl went off script. That’s when we learned some real winemaking at the feet of the master,” said Power, who is now the winemaker at Creekside Estate Winery. “He kept us all enthralled by slipping in anecdotes and tips.”

    Kaiser was also a researcher, working with Inglis and others to understand more about icewine fermentation and production.

    “Karl co-wrote a book and was an active researcher, but not many people realize it because he was such a humble individual,” she said. “He was a teacher and a mentor.

    “For me personally, he believed in me as a scientist and that meant the world to me. It really launched my career in icewine research.”

    A celebration of life for Kaiser will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 8 at The Hare Wine Co., 769 Niagara Stone Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Written messages of condolence can be left on Kaiser’s memorial website found here.

    In lieu of flowers, the family is encouraging donations to the Dr. Karl J. Kaiser Memorial Fund at Brock’s CCOVI. The fund has been launched in honour of Kaiser’s love of learning and sharing his knowledge. Donations can be made at or by phone at 905-688-5550 x4190.

    For more information or for assistance arranging interviews:

    * Dan Dakin, Media Relations Officer, Brock University, 905-688-5550 x5353 or 905-347-1970

    Brock University Marketing and Communications has a full-service studio where we can provide high definition video and broadcast-quality audio.

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