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

  • Cuvée Grand Tasting to celebrate Ontario VQA wine for 31st year

    16 October 2018


    Mark your calendars for one of the most sought-after wine events. The annual Cuvée Grand Tasting has been set for Saturday, March 23, 2019.

    The event will be held at the Scotiabank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls and is the largest celebration of VQA wine of its kind, featuring more than 100 wine selections from Ontario’s top winemakers.

    Online tickets are now available and wine and food enthusiasts can take advantage of early-bird prices.

    This marks the fifth year that Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) has taken the lead in organizing Cuvée, a weekend-long celebration of Ontario VQA wine and local cuisine from chefs from across the region.

    “Not only does Cuvée showcase the finest VQA wines to consumers, it supports the growth of the grape and wine industry by funding valuable research and student scholarships,” says CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis, adding that more than $122,000 has been generated for the Cuvée Legacy Fund over the past four years.

    Cuvée 2019 will see the return of the popular “Winemakers’ Favourite Wines” feature, along with gourmet food delicacies prepared by celebrated chefs at live cooking stations, and an Après Cuvée party with live music and selections from micro-breweries, cideries and VQA wineries.

    Cuvée Manager Barb Tatarnic said the 2018 event drew a record crowd to the Grand Tasting event, with nearly 900 guests in attendance.

    “It really is a unique experience because those aren’t just any wines, they are the selections of the winemakers themselves,” said Tatarnic. “We’re thrilled with Cuvée’s success and the positive feedback we’ve received from our guests.”

    During the weekend-long event, the Cuvée en Route passport program allows ticket holders access to exclusive tasting flights at more than 30 Niagara wineries from March 22 to 24. Passports are included with the Grand Tasting or can also be purchased individually for $30.

    For more information or to purchase tickets to the Cuvée Grand Tasting or en Route passports, visit

    Categories: Media releases

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

    15 June 2018


    Momentum is building as Canada gets ready to welcome the world to Brock University for the 2020 International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS).

    From July 12 to 17, 2020, leading researchers, winemakers, grape growers, educators and media from around the world will gather at Brock for the 10th instalment of the symposium. This will mark the first time that the ICCWS, which takes place every four years, has come to Canada.

    Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) is working alongside its research and industry partners to plan the event, which 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 all areas of the grape and wine value chain the chance to showcase the latest research and discuss innovative practices that can help ensure the vitality of cool climate winemaking.”

    As 2020 approaches, conference organizers have launched a new website that will serve as the key source of information for delegates who plan on attending the conference. Although registration doesn’t open until next summer, interested individuals can use the website to sign-up for the ICCWS’ mailing list and learn more about Canada’s wine regions and conference programming.

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

    Dan Paszkowski, Canadian Vintners Association President and Chief Executive Officer, said Canada’s wine and grape producers are eager to welcome international delegates to the country.

    “The ICCWS offers an exceptional opportunity to showcase the wines of Canada to the world, tell our cool climate wine story and share the true diversity of Canada’s award-winning terroirs as delegates taste wines from Ontario, British Columbia, Nova Scotia and Quebec,” Paszkowski said.

    A unique feature of the conference will be the presentation of wines from The Great Chardo Swap. Organized by CCOVI oenologist Belinda Kemp, the swap will showcase terroir and winemaker ingenuity through Niagara Chardonnay to conference attendees. The activity has 12 winemakers using grapes from two well-established Niagara vineyards to craft one-of-a-kind Chardonnays, with six winemakers working with juice from each site.

    Other than using the same juice, closures and bottles, winemakers have free rein to craft their wines however they like. All of the wines will be part of a grand tasting at the ICCWS, with the winemakers discussing how the decisions they made during the winemaking process impacted the final wine.

    The initiative will also be featured at the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration during its “School for Cool” Education Day on Friday, July 17, 2020. The Great Chardo Swap wines will be auctioned-off, with the proceeds donated to the Karl J. Kaiser Memorial Fund to establish scholarships for students studying oenology and viticulture at Brock University.

    Learn more at

    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • Fizz Club on tour: Canadian sparkling winemakers are Italy bound

    14 June 2018                                                                                                                          R00126

    Fizz Club, a networking group for Canadian sparkling winemakers, is trading in its usual classroom meeting spot at Brock University for the scenic views of the Italian countryside next week.

    Thirty winemakers from four provinces will join Fizz Club organizer Belinda Kemp, a Senior Scientist in Oenology at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), on a five-day technical tour of Italian sparkling wine facilities beginning June 25. The tour will connect the Canadian winemakers with their highly regarded colleagues and sparkling wine scientists in Franciacorta, Trentino and Conegliano.

    “We are often able to get Ontario winemakers together but to have winemakers from British Columbia, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick join us is a great opportunity,” Kemp said. “Organized Fizz Club excursions like this give busy winemakers time and space to talk to each other and learn from their international colleagues.”

    To plan the tour, Kemp has been working with Niagara winemakers Craig McDonald, Vice-President of Winemaking at Andrew Peller Limited, and Elisa Mazzi, Assistant Winemaker at Malivoire Wine.

    Fizz Club was created at Brock five years ago to provide the technical foundation for the growth of Canada’s sparkling wine industry. The network has an annual meeting where the latest CCOVI research is presented and gives winemakers the opportunity to exchange practical advice on all stages of production.

    “Our region is really collegial among winemakers,” McDonald said. “We need to maintain and nurture that and Fizz Club is the greatest platform we have not only within Ontario but also nationally to do that.

    “We’re really happy and very fortunate to have a person of Belinda’s caliber involved in this. To not only have a winemaker with a PhD but to also have someone who really believes in the potential of the industry is exciting for the winemakers.”

    This marks the second time that Fizz Club has gone abroad. In 2016, Kemp led 26 Ontario winemakers on a technical tour of France’s Champagne region, where they gained insights from top producers and consultants. Mazzi was on that tour and is excited to now be showcasing her home country of Italy to her Canadian colleagues.

    “Champagne was a great opportunity for us to actually talk to winemakers, because when you just taste wine you don’t have an idea of what’s going on behind the scenes,” Mazzi said. “It’s important to understand their philosophy, see what their mentality is and what drove them to start their sparkling program.”

    As the winemakers prepare for Italy, the quality of Canadian bubbly is garnering international attention. Earlier this month, two Ontario wineries received Platinum medals with a score of 97 points for their sparkling at the prestigious Decanter World Wine Awards.

    Attached to this release is a photo that is free for media use. Caption: Winemakers Craig McDonald and Elisa Mazzi work with CCOVI’s Belinda Kemp (centre) to put the finishing touches on plans for Fizz Club’s trip to Italy.


    Categories: Media releases, What's happening at CCOVI

  • Brock wine researcher highlighted among international experts

    28 May 2018
    Brock University — Communications & Public Affairs

    A Brock University researcher is being lauded as one of 16 women who have made an indelible mark on the wine world.

    Belinda Kemp, a senior scientist in oenology at Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), is highlighted in the latest edition of the LCBO’s Vintages magazine in a feature about wine industry innovators from around the world.

    “The women on this list are a group of forward-thinking industry trailblazers,” says Kemp. “To be named alongside them is truly an honour.”

    Kemp was praised for being at the forefront of research on aroma and flavour in sparkling and appassimento wines. In her role at CCOVI, she splits her time between researching priorities identified by the grape and wine industry and providing outreach and support to that community.

    With a winemaking passport that includes work on three continents, it was CCOVI’s international reputation and the allure of working on research that was relevant to the industry that brought Kemp to Brock in 2013. What kept her here was the collaborative culture of local winemakers.

    “Ontario winemakers are so open to research collaboration and new ideas, and are genuinely interested and understand the value of wine research,” Kemp says. “What really kept me in Canada was when I realized winemakers were changing aspects of their winemaking based on the results of our research.”

    Kemp’s laboratory dubbed ‘The Bubble Lab’ is recognized for its leading sparkling wine research and outreach work. In addition to her research on the topic, Kemp has organized Fizz Club since its founding in 2013. The networking group of sparkling winemakers is a closed-door session that allows those in the industry to discuss triumphs and challenges in sparkling winemaking and discuss the latest research advances. When Fizz Club was established, there were fewer than 40 wineries producing sparkling wine in Ontario. Five years later, the number of producers has ballooned to 90 and winemakers from four provinces have engaged with the group’s programming.

    CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis says Kemp’s work at the institute embodies the spirit of the institute’s commitment to industry-based research.

    “In her short time in Canada, Belinda made a lasting impact on the Ontario wine industry,” Inglis says. “Her sparkling wine research and outreach work has helped shape a growing segment of Ontario’s wine production.”

    Brock University oenologist Belinda Kemp examines one of her sparkling research wines.

    Categories: 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