Media releases

  • Tickets selling fast for Ontario’s biggest VQA celebration

    19 March 2019

    The wines have been selected and Ontario’s top winemakers are ready to pour their favourites at the 31st annual Cuvée Grand Tasting in Niagara Falls this Saturday, March 23.

    Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the Cuvée Grand Tasting takes place at Scotiabank Convention Centre 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 Ontario VQA wineries on hand this year pouring two of their winemakers’ favourite wines, plus local chefs preparing their signature dishes at live cooking stations,” said Cuvée manager Barb Tatarnic. “New this year, guests can experience Cuvée using augmented reality with the LifeAR mobile application, developed by students from Brock, allowing them to view which wineries are represented, what they’re pouring and even purchase wine online at the Grand Tasting.”

    Cuvée provides future grape growers and winemakers the chance to interact directly with key industry players.

    Proceeds from the event support the Cuvée Legacy Fund, which was established to fund industry-driven research initiatives and scholarships for students. More than $122,000 has been generated since CCOVI took the lead in organizing the event four years ago.

    “Winning that scholarship meant all my hard work for the past three-and-a-half years came together,” said Nick Pappas (BSc’18), who won the Cuvée Award for Academic Excellence in 2018. “It is great to win a scholarship, but to win one in the industry you are entering is amazing. That money helped me finish off the last couple of courses at Brock and having that award on a resumé is just amazing.”

    “Student scholarship winners talk about how proceeds from the Cuvée wine weekend support grape and wine scholarships and research initiatives”

    Champions in the province’s grape and wine industry will also be showcased at the event, including the Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence and Winemaker of Excellence awards, along with the Tony Aspler Award of Excellence.

    The Grand Tasting is followed by the Après Cuvée after party, which features live music from the Associates, Icewine, sparkling wine, cider and local craft beer.

    The Cuvée en Route passport program will extend the wine celebration all weekend long running from March 22 to 24 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 Saturday 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.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Cuvée 2019 to celebrate the best in Ontario VQA wine and food

    11 February 2019


    Cuvée weekend is fast approaching and guests this year will have the opportunity to sample
    the best VQA wine and food Ontario has to offer in a whole new way.

    Hosted by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the
    Cuvée Grand Tasting is the largest celebration of Ontario VQA wine and food of its kind. This
    year’s event takes place Saturday, March 23 at Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara
    Falls, with the Cuvée en Route passport program once again extending the wine celebration all
    weekend long at participating wineries.

    Nearly 900 people attended last year’s Cuvée Grand Tasting, with proceeds supporting
    scholarships for Brock’s Oenology and Viticulture students, as well as grape and wine industrydriven
    research initiatives at CCOVI.

    New this year, guests can experience Cuvée using augmented reality. CCOVI has teamed up
    with HoloEducate, an augmented reality company founded by students from Brock. The mobile
    application LifeAR will allow guests at the Grand Tasting to view wine selections and even
    purchase wine online.

    Guests can download the free app before and during the Grand Tasting and then use their
    phones to scan the large wine bottles found in the middle of each wine station. They’ll be able
    to see a list of the wineries, which wines they’re pouring and even purchase those wines
    immediately online.

    “It will be a unique and fun experience for our guests at this year’s event, allowing them to
    experience Cuvée like never before,” said Barb Tatarnic, Cuvée manager.

    The LifeAR app can also be used before the event to scan the Cuvée logo to view a video of
    last year’s celebration.

    At the Grand Tasting, guests will enjoy culinary delights from celebrated local chefs at live
    cooking stations and wines from 48 of Ontario’s top winemakers, who will present two of their
    favourite wines.

    The Grand Tasting is followed by the Après Cuvée after party, which features live music from
    the Associates, Icewine, sparkling wine, cider and local craft beer.

    The 2019 lineup of Niagara’s best chefs at Cuvée will include:
    • Backhouse Restaurant
    • Bolete Restaurant
    • Brushfire Smoke BBQ
    • Canadian Food and Wine Institute — Benchmark Restaurant
    • Chili Jiao Authentic Chinese Restaurant
    • Ravine Vineyard Restaurant
    • Righteous Monger
    • Scotiabank Convention Centre
    • The Restaurant at Redstone Winery
    • Tide & Vine Oyster House
    • Criveller Cakes
    • Italian Ice Cream

    A complete list of participating wineries can be found at

    Tickets that include both the Saturday night Grand Tasting and the weekend-long en Route
    passport are available online at for $200 per person. Tickets for the en Route
    passport only can be purchased for $30.


    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock expands cider certificate course offerings

    7 February 2019


    Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) continues to lead
    the way for the booming cider industry with the launch of the Advanced Certificate in Cider
    and Perry Production.

    The advanced-level courses were unveiled Thursday, Feb. 7 by the Cider Institute of North
    America (CINA) at CiderCon, an annual industry conference being held in Chicago. Brock
    University joined other CINA program providers, including Cornell and Washington State
    universities, in making presentations.

    The addition of the advanced courses builds on Brock’s offering of CINA’s Foundation
    Certificate in Cider and Perry Production offered each year by CCOVI.

    “Brock University is thrilled to bring the CINA program to the Canadian market and be a key
    player in driving the industry forward,” said Barb Tatarnic, CCOVI’s Manager of Continuing
    Education and Outreach. “As a program provider of the Foundation and now the Advanced
    level of certification, this is a critical step in setting widespread industry standards for the
    rapidly growing cider and perry industry.”

    In addition to being the only Canadian provider of the CINA courses, CCOVI also provides
    analytical testing services to help cider makers deliver the best product possible.

    “Brock played an instrumental role in developing the courses of the Advanced Certificate
    program, which is the first educational accreditation for cider makers in North America,” said
    Steven Trussler, the CINA-certified instructor in CCOVI’s cider program. “It builds upon the
    foundation certificate with a comprehensive program that is intended to take about three
    years to complete.”

    To date, around 100 students have earned the Foundation Certificate in Cider and Perry
    Production through CCOVI.

    “CINA’s curriculum development team represents leaders in the cider industry and partner
    academic institutions,” said CINA Executive Director Brighid O’Keane. “We’re pleased to
    announce training opportunities for cider makers to develop their technical skills and gain
    industry-recognized qualifications in cider and perry production.”

    Brock University will offer the following advanced-level courses: Science and Practice of Cider
    and Perry Production; GMP, Safety and Sanitation of Cider and Perry Production; Essential
    Sensory Analysis of Cider and Perry; and Essential Laboratory Testing of Cider and Perry.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Expert Advisory: Brock scientists help protect vineyards during frigid temperatures

    31 January 2019


    With extreme cold weather alerts across most of the province, scientists at Brock University
    are helping grape growers avoid crop loss.

    As the mercury plummeted, researchers and students were already out in the vineyards
    collecting grapevine buds for the VineAlert program run by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and
    Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), in partnership with the Grape Growers of Ontario.

    Back in the lab, scientists have been analyzing the data to track a grape bud’s ability to
    survive these cold temperatures. This helps growers and wineries know when they should turn
    on wind machines to protect vines from winter injury and how to manage any damage they
    may have sustained.

    “We are closely monitoring this extreme weather across Ontario and sampling in vineyards to
    determine what impact it will have on bud survival,” said Jim Willwerth, CCOVI’s Senior
    Viticulturist. “We are then able to provide that timely information to the industry to help
    mitigate any impact through pruning practices and adjustments in the vineyard to reduce
    economic loss.”

    Although the cold snap is set to end this weekend, the work has just begun in the cold
    hardiness lab. Scientists should know within the next few weeks what sort of impact this deepfreeze
    has had on crops.

    Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Senior Viticulturist, is available for interviews.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock viticulture lecture series back for 12th year

    8 January 2019


    The Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) Lecture Series is back for its 12th
    year, giving people from around the world access to Brock University’s leading grape and wine

    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 latest research on grapevine hardiness to climate
    change in Canadian vineyards and the consumer psychology behind wine. The series will also
    bring in two Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researchers from British Columbia to share their
    latest findings.

    The CCOVI Lecture Series began in 2007 and has become a highly anticipated event both
    locally and for those tuning in remotely through livestreaming.

    “We are pleased to once again bring the latest in grape and wine research into the hands of
    grape growers and winemakers,” 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 free lectures, which are open to the public, begin Monday, Jan. 14 and take place in
    room H313 of the Mackenzie Chown Complex at Brock University. The lectures are open to the
    public and typically begin at 2 p.m., aside from the opening lecture Jan. 14, which will begin
    at 2:30.

    The lectures can be viewed live online and can be downloaded following each event by visiting
    the by visiting the CCOVI Lecture Series website.

    2019 CCOVI Lecture Series:

    Jan. 14: Don Cyr, Professor of Finance, Goodman School of Business, Brock University — “Who
    is the natural heir to Robert Parker in the en primeur wine market?”
    *Special time of 2:30 p.m.

    Jan. 21: Ronald Jackson, Wine Writer and Author — “Carbonic maceration: Modern version of a
    Neolithic wine?”

    Jan. 28: Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Senior Viticulturist, Brock University — “Evaluation of plant
    material as an adaptation strategy to climate change in Canadian vineyards.”

    Feb. 4: Andy Reynolds, Professor of Biological Sciences/Viticulture, Faculty of Mathematics
    and Science, Brock University — “Frozen materials other than grapes — explaining the aroma
    chemistry behind unwanted floral characteristics in red wines.”

    Feb. 11: Pat Bowen, Research Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Summerland
    Research and Development Centre — “Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3: Effects on
    Cabernet Franc vine performance and wine quality.”
    And Carl Bogdanoff, Viticulture Biologist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Summerland
    Research and Development Centre — “Varietal differences in grapevine hardiness — buds,
    canes and roots.”

    Feb. 25: Sudarsana Poojari, CCOVI Senior Virologist, Brock University — “Current advances in
    understanding grapevine virus diseases.”

    Mar. 4: TBA

    Mar. 11: Belinda Kemp, CCOVI Senior Oenologist, Brock University — “Communicating
    scientific research to grape growers and winemakers.”

    Mar. 18: Antonia Mantonakis, Associate Professor of Marketing, Goodman School of Business,
    Brock University — “The consumer psychology behind wine choices.”

    Categories: Media releases

  • Expert Advisory: Look at the label when choosing wine this holiday season

    11 December 2018


    ‘Tis the season for gift giving, and if you’re looking to impress someone on your list, you may want to take a closer look at the label.

    Brock University research has shown that choosing a wine with a picture on the bottle or one with a difficult-to-pronounce name will likely make the recipient believe you spent more money.

    Antonia Mantonakis, an Associate Professor of Marketing in Brock University’s Goodman School of Business, studies how consumers perceive wines. She says wine labels can have a big impact on consumer choices.

    According to her research, consumers believe a wine is more expensive and better tasting when the winery has a complicated name. If the wine label has a picture on it, people are more likely to think the wine is award-winning.

    “It’s interesting how consumers perceive things,” Mantonakis said. “Something like the sound of a name can elicit a thought, and that thought can influence the perception of how something tastes.”

    Categories: Media releases

  • The secret Fizz Club for Canada’s winemakers

    3 December 2018


    As wine lovers ponder which bottle of bubbly to pop this holiday season, winemakers from across Canada will be swapping secrets for making the best sparkling wine this week at Brock University.

    Eighty of Canada’s top sparkling winemakers will travel to Brock on Thursday Dec. 6 for the annual Fizz Club — a members-only gathering where winemakers compare notes, discuss triumphs and challenges relating to sparkling wine production and learn about new research developments.

    Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and led by senior scientist Belinda Kemp, this year’s Fizz Club will be the largest gathering to date with attendees from Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Nova Scotia.

    “When we started this, most of the winemakers who attended Fizz Club were based in Niagara,” said Kemp. “Now in its sixth year, we have winemakers coming from all across Canada, including more than 20 wineries from Quebec.”

    As Fizz Club grows in popularity, so do Fizz-loving consumers. More than 90 local wineries are now producing sparkling wines and sales are surging with overall sales of VQA sparkling up 13 percent year-over-year.

    Kemp will share the latest research CCOVI is doing to help local grape growers and winemakers produce quality sparkling wine, including new results from studies regarding how different soil types affect sparkling wine flavour, mouthfeel and texture.

    Excitement continues to build around Canadian sparkling wine as last week CCOVI hosted the world’s largest Canadian sparkling wine tasting, with 135 bottles from four provinces. More information on the historic tasting can be found here.

    Categories: Media releases

  • CCOVI hosts world’s largest tasting of Canadian sparkling wine

    30 November 2018


    More than 130 bottles of sparkling wine from four provinces were popped at Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) this week, in the world’s largest tasting of Canadian sparkling wine.

    Tom Stevenson, regarded as one of the world’s leading sparkling wine experts, travelled to Brock from the United Kingdom to taste sparkling wines from Ontario, Quebec, B.C. and Nova Scotia.

    “I am really pleased because there are a lot of really good sparkling wines here,” said Stevenson. “After the first flight I found a few potential gold and silver wines.”

    Stevenson has been tasting top sparkling wines blind in the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC), which he founded and is the head judge for. He said Canada is a strong contender and hopes some of the producers he earmarked will be encouraged to participate in the global competition.

    “It would increase the profile of Canadian sparkling wine. We haven’t typically had many entries from Canada in the past to really see what these producers have available from a competition perspective,” Stevenson said.

    Over a number of hours, he tasted the wines alongside wine writer and judge Treve Ring, who said the top wines stood out in the tasting room when it came to balance, complexity and depth.

    “I think the top wineries in Canada are making sparkling wines that can easily stand shoulder to shoulder with some of the top wineries around the world,” Ring said. “It was fantastic to see such diversity of wines and styles, everything from ancient method through to traditional method sparkling wine that has been aged for years.”

    The tasting was organized and hosted by CCOVI Senior Scientist Belinda Kemp. Her lab, dubbed ‘The Bubble Lab,’ is recognized for its leading sparkling wine research and outreach work, helping grape growers and winemakers produce quality sparkling wines through initiatives such as Fizz Club — a networking group for Canadian sparkling winemakers.

    “I’m so pleased we were able to showcase wines from so many wineries, especially with our annual Fizz Club taking place next week,” said Kemp. “It is quite incredible to watch the progress of Canadian sparkling wines as we raise awareness of production techniques and tackle challenges with CCOVI research. This is just the beginning for Canadian sparkling wine.”

    Tom Stevenson, right, and Treve Ring, left, visited CCOVI this week for the world’s largest Canadian Sparkling wine tasting with CCOVI Senior Scientist Belinda Kemp, centre.

    More than 130 bottles of sparkling wines from across Canada were part of a tasting at Brock University’s CCOVI.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Wine industry giants, Brock U research builders Ziraldo and Kaiser cited with elite award

    26 November 2018


    Canadian winery icons Donald Ziraldo and Karl Kaiser, who revolutionized an industry and then helped create Brock University’s renowned grape and wine research centre CCOVI, have been honoured with the first Lifetime Achievement Award ever presented by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

    The partners were feted as “the pioneers of Ontario’s wine renaissance” at a gala at Toronto’s Exhibition Place, where Ziraldo was joined by Andrea Kaiser, who accepted on behalf of her late father. The award was sponsored by Brock University.

    In 1975, Ziraldo and Kaiser obtained a licence for a new winery they called Inniskillin. Ontario wines were typically sweet and syrupy, due to the region’s hardy labrusca vines that could survive Canadian winters. But Ziraldo and Kaiser believed European vitis vinifera vines could produce world-class wines and also cope with the local climate.

    They soon began winning major international awards, including the Grand prix d’Honneur at Vinexpo in Bordeaux, France. Inniskillin went from cottage winery to global success, and the reputation of Canadian wines went viral.

    Since then, Niagara has become carpeted with vineyards and known as ‘Napa North,’ a destination for connoisseurs and wine tourists alike. When Inniskillin received its licence, the first to be issued in half a century, there were only six other wineries in Ontario. Today there are nearly 200, and grape and wine is a $9-billion national industry that contributes to thousands of jobs.

    While sales flourished, however, the industry lacked the research support and regional science that is crucial to keeping an area’s vines healthy and its quality high.

    By 1996, a group of winemakers, grape growers and Brock scientists met regularly to identify the needs of the rapidly expanding industry. The group included Bill Cade, then Brock’s Dean of Mathematics and Science, who brought in industry leaders like Ziraldo, Kaiser, Paul Bosc, John Howard and others.

    Wine writer Linda Bramble recalled the energy: “I remember Donald (Ziraldo) repeating, ‘Every significant wine region in the world has a research institute associated with it. We need this, too!’”

    Before the year was out, Brock launched its Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), which has been a working partner of the industry ever since. Two years later, CCOVI would move into its new home, named Inniskillin Hall in honour of a generous gift from Ziraldo and Kaiser.

    At the Lifetime Achievement Award ceremony, Ziraldo praised his longtime partner.

    “Karl’s genius with Icewine created an opportunity to build a global luxury brand,” Ziraldo said. “I deeply appreciate the recognition by the Chamber, and encourage young vintners to continue our quest for greatness.”

    Andrea Kaiser recounted how her father very nearly did not become a vintner. After emigrating from Austria in the late 1960s, he found his education credentials were not recognized in Canada. However, his plans to go back to school and become a teacher changed after a chance meeting with Ziraldo.

    “But even in winemaking, he remained a teacher, always eager to share his winemaking techniques,” she said. “He was so honoured to be invited back to Brock to teach at CCOVI as it combined his two passions in life, wine and learning.”

    Brock President Fearon said the vision and innovation shown by Ziraldo and Kaiser will continue to inspire generations of entrepreneurs and leaders.

    “It is hard to think of two individuals whose vision and commitment to quality and excellence better exemplifies dramatic growth in the competitiveness and vitality of the Ontario industry landscape,” Fearon said. “I am proud to say that Brock, through CCOVI, was a partner in these developments reflecting our commitment to supporting transformative regional community and economic growth.”

    Comerford saluted the pair’s legacy to research and education.

    “I am very proud that for more than 20 years, Donald and Karl have been instrumental in helping to create at Brock, what has become Canada’s leading grape and wine research centre,” he said.

    Ontario Chamber of Commerce President Rocco Rossi said Ziraldo and Kaiser were a perfect choice as the first-ever recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    “Their determination to create the highest quality wines not only transformed the Canadian wine industry but demonstrates the innovation, entrepreneurship and hard work of the businesses built in our own back yard,” said Rossi.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock research vineyards to tackle climate change challenges

    6 November 2018


    With the help of two new research vineyards, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is looking to aid Canada’s grape growers and wineries.

    CCOVI partnered with two commercial grape growers to plant the St. Catharines and Niagara-on-the-Lake vineyards that will be used for a clone and rootstock evaluation program of the main VQA grapevine varieties in Ontario.

    Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Senior Scientist, said the program takes a proactive approach that will help the industry grow and adapt to challenges expected with climate change.

    “We are looking at cold hardiness, fruit composition, wine quality and general vine performance, so that the industry knows the best combinations to use for our core grape varieties,” said Willwerth.

    Planting and management of the research vineyards was funded through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Collaborative Research and Development grant program in partnership with Ontario Grape and Wine Research Inc.

    The certified grapevines were planted in June in collaboration with Huebel Grapes Estates and the support of grape growers Bill Schenck and Erwin Wiens, who are each allowing the use of two acres of their land. More vines will be planted in 2019.

    “This is an example of an industry and university research program that is ultimately looking to help the sustainability of the Ontario and Canadian grape and wine industry,” said Willwerth. “I think this is proof of how CCOVI’s industry partnerships really shine and how we work together to achieve a common goal.”

    One vineyard was planted on a heavier clay soil and the other on a sandy soil to represent different vineyard conditions found in Ontario. There are different varieties of vines in each with multiple clone and rootstock combinations.

    “The research we do at CCOVI is driven by the industry, and the industry, at this time, is interested in evaluating clean plant material and looking at what combinations do the best under our conditions,” Willwerth said.

    Schenck, one of the commercial vineyard owners, has been working with CCOVI on research projects for the past 15 years.

    “It gives me first-hand knowledge on what will work on my property,” said Schenck. “I am pretty excited for opportunities to see what I can do better. We have seen over the years with different rootstocks that vines grow differently. So if I look to replant or plant new vineyards, it’s always better to have the knowledge available.”

    Schenck said he is happy to help support the industry by donating his land and time for the clone and rootstock evaluation program.

    “I think the growers in this area are very lucky that CCOVI has taken up the challenge of trying to do what is best for the industry,” he said.

    Categories: Media releases