Media releases

  • Top VQA wine promoters honoured at Experts Tasting

    18 June 2019

    More than 120 wine writers, educators and industry professionals gathered at Brock University on Tuesday, June 18 for the 30th annual Experts Tasting, which promotes Ontario VQA wine and celebrates individuals who have helped grow and promote the grape and wine industry.

    Organized by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), the 2019 tasting focused on Riesling, from sparkling to Icewine. Five flights showcased a total of 35 wines with industry experts guiding guests through the tasting.

    “The Experts Tasting has been designed for the trade — primarily media, product consultants, sommeliers and wine educators who promote VQA wines,” said event organizer Barb Tatarnic, Manager of Outreach and Continuing Education at CCOVI. “This event allows guests to taste and learn alongside their peers in the industry. This tasting showcased multiple vintages and styles of Riesling and clearly showed what this variety can bring to the Ontario industry year after year.”

    The event also honours outstanding achievements and contributions by presenting VQA Promoters Awards to individuals who advance the industry through promotion or education.

    The Sparkling Winos — wine bloggers Jeff Graham and Michal Matyjewicz — were recognized for promoting and raising the profile of VQA wines in the promoter-at-large category.

    “This is something that we do purely as a hobby. This isn’t a full-time job,” said Graham. “We invest so much of our time and effort into Sparkling Winos, so it means everything to be recognized for that from our peers and other industry professionals we admire.”

    The social media influencers say they are passionate about educating people about VQA wine.

    “There is so much going on in this area, so many quality wines and such a focus on quality winemaking,” said Matyjewicz. “I think that is what makes it a unique wine region and makes it a really easy sell for us to help spread the word about sparkling and other VQA wines.”

    The lifetime achievement award was presented to Helen Fisher, retired viticulture research scientist at Vineland Research and Innovation Centre, who was recognized for her

    groundbreaking work in the vineyard and her research into wine grape selections for cool climate regions.

    The 2019 VQA Promoters Award winners include:

    • Retail: Meg McGrath, Retail Manager, Hidden Bench Winery
    • Hospitality: Maribeth Mckey, Food and Beverage Manager, Inn on the Twenty
    • LCBO: Victor Borja-Sheen, Product Consultant, LCBO
    • Education: Ron Giesbrecht, Professor, Niagara College
    • Promoter-at-Large: Jeff Graham and Michal Matyjewicz, The Sparkling Winos
    • Lifetime Achievement: Helen Fisher, retired researcher, University of Guelph

    Categories: Media releases

  • International Cool Climate Wine Symposium to highlight Canada’s wine industry

    31 May 2019

    Canada will welcome the world to Brock University next summer for one of the most prestigious wine conferences, the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS).

    From July 12 to 16, 2020, leading researchers, winemakers, grape growers, educators and media from across the globe will gather at Brock for the 10th instalment of the symposium, which takes place every four years.

    Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is planning the event alongside its research and industry partners across the country. This is the first time the conference has come to Canada and it will focus on how climate change is driving innovation in the grape and wine industry.

    “This is an issue that impacts all cool climate wine regions,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “The ICCWS will give researchers from diverse fields the chance to showcase the cutting-edge work they are doing and discuss innovative practices that can help ensure the vitality of cool climate grape growing and winemaking.”

    Brock is pleased to welcome Nobel Prize-winning physicist Brian Schmidt as the opening keynote speaker. Schmidt is an expert on issues of climate change and has his own cool climate vineyard and winery. He is also Vice-Chancellor and President of the Australian National University.

    “The International Cool Climate Wine Symposium is where the world of science and industry gets together every four years to better understand how to make outstanding wines in cool climates,” said Schmidt.

    “The climate is changing and changing rapidly. ICCWS 2020 is chance for cool climate winemakers, like myself, to get on top of the science and experiences from around the world to ensure they are relevant in this fast changing and highly competitive environment.”

    Schmidt has joked on social media that he is looking forward to visiting Canada and meeting Niagara’s Brian Schmidt, winemaker at Vineland Estates, to cause some confusion.

    ICCWS conference sessions will focus on viticulture, oenology, wine business and science communication. Each of the four themes will include a number of speakers, seminars, master classes and workshops.

    Regina Vanderlinde, President of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV), has been named as the oenology keynote speaker and will talk about the global wine overview to climate adaptation and the challenges of adopting new technology in wineries.

    As the viticulture keynote speaker, Elizabeth Wolkovich from the University of British Columbia will share her research on how climate change affects different wine grape varieties and how shifting varieties may help growers.

    The science communication keynote speaker will be Kimberly Nicholas, Associate Professor of Sustainability Science at Lund University in Sweden. Her research focuses on sustainable farming systems, the wine industry under climate change, and linking research with policy and practice to support a zero-emissions society.

    In addition to the conference sessions at Brock, in the heart of the Niagara wine region, those attending will also have the opportunity to participate in pre- and post-conference programming that will showcase Canada’s wine regions from coast to coast.

    International delegates will be introduced to Canadian wines and local culinary offerings through a number of special farm-to-table dinner options at local wineries, a Taste of Canada event and a banquet dinner at Brock University.

    Abstract submissions for technical sessions and poster presentations as well as registration for the ICCWS opens in August. Learn more about the conference at

    Categories: Media releases

  • Record crowd pours in for Cuvée Grand Tasting

    25 March 2019

    It was another packed event this year as the 31st annual Cuvée Grand Tasting brought almost 900 guests together to celebrate excellence in the thriving Ontario wine industry.

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

    “This is the largest event of its kind and the strong turnout of guests 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 honours the talented people who work in the $4.4-billion Ontario grape and wine industry.

    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 Doug Whitty and 13th Street Winery. Whitty is a third-generation Niagara grape grower and was the 2017 Grape King. As he called Whitty to the stage to receive the award, Tony Aspler credited him and 13th Street Winery with “enhancing the winery experience with art and sculpture and, of course, butter tarts.”

    Whitty called Aspler a “pioneer in this industry.”

    “He was there right from the beginning supporting us,” he said. “It is really a great honour for me to win this award, I am very humbled and thankful.”

    The Winemaker of Excellence Award winner was Bruce Nicholson from Inniskillin, who was selected for his contributions to the industry, his commitment to excellence and his mentorship to winemakers across Canada.

    This year’s Cuvée Vineyard of Excellence Award went to Martin Schuele, a grape grower in Beamsville. Sponsored by BASF Canada Inc., the award recognizes a grape grower who promotes excellence in vineyard practices.

    “The Cuvée Grand Tasting is a great opportunity for BASF to not only celebrate Ontario wines with our grape customers, but to also introduce those customers to some of the future industry leaders from Brock University and Niagara College,” said Scott Hodgins, Crop Manager, Horticulture for BASF Canada Inc.

    Schuele and his family, who grow for Arterra Wines Canada, have about 120 acres of vineyards and it’s been a family-owned operation since they arrived from Germany in the early 1980s.

    “Schuele vineyards have long been associated with vineyard excellence,” said CCOVI Senior Scientist Jim Willwerth. “Martin’s Chardonnay block was pristine with high quality fruit even in the tough 2018 vintage.”

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

    The Cuvée Scholarship winners are:

    ●  Cuvée Hosting Award for Academic Excellence: Marnie Crombleholme
    ●  Cuvée Award for Academic Excellence: Jessica Oppenlaender
    ●  Cuvée Award for Academic Excellence in OEVC: Jeffrey Moote
    ●  Cuvée Graduate Scholarship: Jennifer Kelly

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

    Almost 900 guests took part in the 31st annual Cuvée Grand Tasting Saturday, March 23 at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls.

    Categories: Media releases

  • New business program expands Brock’s offerings to the grape and wine industry

    21 March 2019

    After more than 20 years of its researchers supporting the grape-growing and wine-making disciplines of Ontario’s $4.4-billion grape and wine industry, Brock University is expanding its professional development offerings to include programming from Brock’s Goodman School of Business.

    Starting this spring, the new Wine Business Management Certificate will be delivered by industry leaders and top scholars to help industry personnel develop the core competencies needed to take a forward-thinking approach to managing of wine-related businesses.

    “This is a space that’s not occupied today in terms of professional development for the wine industry,” said Goodman Dean Andrew Gaudes.

    “We’ve been successful in this region developing winemakers, and we now have an abundance of winemakers ready to lead, manage, market and strategically place their wineries.”

    Goodman officials worked with Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) to establish the program. CCOVI, an internationally recognized research base, has for decades been providing professional development courses for the industry as well as continuing education opportunities for wine enthusiasts.

    “We have seen an interest for this type of programming from the grape and wine industry and are thrilled to see it developed and launched this summer through Goodman Group,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “We look forward to continuing to work together with Goodman to support the growth of our industry across Canada.”

    LCBO President and CEO George Soleas said that, from an industry standpoint, the Wine Business Management Certificate program will help develop a fundamental understanding of wine business management.

    “Having worked closely with Brock University’s academics and wine business leaders for many years, I know this program will give participants the confidence and expertise to propel their career in the wine sector forward,” he said.

    Facilitated by Goodman Group, this new program will be instructed by leading business scholars from Goodman as well as other recognized Canadian and global institutions. This

    academic knowledge will be paired with the expertise of such industry leaders as Ontario wine industry pioneer Donald Ziraldo, and Greg Berti, Vice-President Global Markets and Industry Relations at Andrew Peller Limited.

    Topics include an overview of wines and Canadian vineyards; understanding wine markets and legislation; international wine logistics and operations; financial analysis for the wine industry; wine marketing and brand building; wine and spirits supply change management; direct-to- consumer sales and retail management; and turning a wine business concept into reality.

    The program will run Fridays for five weeks from May 24 to June 21, with group and early-bird pricing available. The sessions will take place at Brock’s main campus and at wineries located in the Niagara region.

    For more information or to register, visit the Goodman website.

    As Niagara’s business school, Goodman is looking to continue to grow its connection with the local grape and wine industry. Additional programming will be announced in the coming months.

    Categories: 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. 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