• Cuvée 2020 to celebrate the best in Ontario VQA wine

    1 Nov. 2019

    Mark your calendars for the most sought-after wine event of the year – the annual Cuvée Grand Tasting has been set for Saturday, April 25, 2020.

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

    Organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), Cuvée is a weekend-long celebration of Ontario VQA wine and local cuisine from chefs from across the region.

    “Cuvée not only celebrates excellence in our industry, it also supports the next generation of winemakers and grape growers by funding valuable research and providing scholarships to students through the Cuvée Legacy Fund,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis.

    Cuvée 2020 will see the return of the popular “Winemakers’ Favourite Wines” feature, along with gourmet food delicacies prepared by celebrated chefs at live cooking stations. At the Après Cuvée party, guests can look forward to live music and selections from micro-breweries, cideries and VQA wineries.

    Cuvée Manager Barb Tatarnic said the 2019 event drew a record crowd to the Grand Tasting event, with nearly 900 guests in attendance.

    “This is the largest event of its kind,” said Tatarnic. “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 local community and beyond.”

    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 April 24 to 26.

    Passports are included with the Grand Tasting or can also be purchased individually for $30. Tickets are on sale now, with early-bird prices available.

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


    Categories: Media releases

  • Registration now open for International Cool Climate Wine Symposium

    22 October 2019

    With more than 50 confirmed speakers, registration is now open for the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS), which takes place in Canada from July 12 to 16, 2020 and is being planned by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) alongside its research and industry partners across the country.

    Confirmed speakers include acclaimed international wine academics and experts from around the world. The 10th installment of the symposium will focus on how climate change is driving innovation in the grape and wine industry, with conference sessions including viticulture, oenology, wine business and science communication.

    Nobel prize-winning physicist Brian Schmidt has been named as the opening keynote speaker. Schmidt is an expert in issues of climate change and has his own cool climate vineyard and winery.

    This is the first time the conference has come to Canada. The federal government is supporting ICCWS with $250,000 in funding through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.

    In addition to the conference sessions at Brock, those attending will also have the opportunity to participate in pre- and post-conference programming that will showcase Canada’s wine regions and be introduced to Canadian wines and local culinary offerings through a number of special events.

    Early bird pricing is now available at $800, which gives delegates the chance to save $350 off the total conference fee and includes access to research seminars, masterclasses, wine tastings and workshops.

    There are also a number of sponsorship and tradeshow opportunities throughout the conference listed on the sponsorship page.


    “The ICCWS committees are thrilled to provide a world-class conference that attracts delegates who are influential in the global wine market and will advance our knowledge base forward. This symposium will give the foremost experts in viticulture, oenology, wine business, sustainability and science communications the chance to share their cutting-edge research findings.” – Debbie Inglis, Director, Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI)

    “Ontario’s wine industry is thrilled that Canada is hosting the 2020 International Cool Climate Wine Symposium. We are especially proud that Niagara’s gorgeous wine country will provide the backdrop for this important gathering of local and international wine communities. VQA Wines of Ontario are truly on the cutting edge of cool, embracing our cool climate wine region and rising status as an internationally acclaimed New World wine destination. We look forward to showcasing Ontario VQA wines alongside wines from across Canada.” – Sylvia Augaitis, Executive Director, Wine Marketing Association of Ontario

    “The Wines of British Columbia is thrilled to be working together with industry colleagues and wine and grape growers from across Canada to bring the ICCWS 2020 to Wine Country Ontario. At a time when our region is gaining major recognition from our international peers, this is an opportunity for us to showcase our diverse wine regions, quality wines and research to the world.” – Laura Kittmer, Communications Director, British Columbia Wine Institute

    “The Wine Council of Quebec (Conseil des Vins du Québec) is proud to be a partner of the International Cool Climate Wine Symposium 2020. Innovation, collaboration and continuous improvement are at the heart of our values and we are proud to be involved in the growth of the Canadian grape and wine industry. The ICCWS is a unique chance to join the international wine community and to meet the best scientists to discuss innovative opportunities regarding the wine production.” – Yvan Quirion, President, Wine Council of Quebec (Conseil des Vins du Québec)

    Register and learn more about the conference at

    Categories: Media releases

  • November Dates & Deadlines

    November 11 – December 8: ONLINE – WSET LEVEL 1 IN WINE
    This is a beginner level wine course for those starting a wine career or those wishing to explore wine for personal interest.  There is no prerequisite to register.
    For more information and to register click here.

    November 11 to December 15: ONLINE – WSET LEVEL 2 AWARD IN WINES
    Explore major grape varieties and important wine regions in which they are grown, the styles of wines produced from these grapes and key classifications and labelling terminology.
    For more information and to register click here.

    November 18 to December 22: ONLINE – WSET LEVEL 1 IN SPIRITS
    A specialized program for individuals wishing to develop their expertise in spirits and liqueurs. You’ll learn about the production methods and characteristics of the main spirit categories while also exploring key brands and the use of spirits in cocktails.
    For more information and to register click here.

    ICCWS 2020 Sponsorship and Tradeshow registration open
    The International Cool Climate Wine Symposium (ICCWS) is coming to Canada next summer and sponsorship opportunities are now available along with Tradeshow registration. From July 12 to 16, 2020, leading researchers, winemakers, grape growers, educators and media from around the world will gather at Brock University for the 10th instalment of the symposium.
    View Sponsorship and Tradeshow opportunities. 

    Categories: Dates and Deadlines, What's happening at CCOVI

  • New Brock institute to support economic growth in Niagara

    3 September 2019

    A $5-million investment by the federal government will allow Brock University to create a landmark facility aimed at making Niagara a research and innovation leader in bioagriculture, bioscience and chemical manufacturing sectors.

    The FedDev funding through the Community Economic Development and Diversification stream was announced Tuesday, Sept. 3 by Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey and St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle.

    The funding means Brock can now launch the Brock-Niagara Validating, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute (VPMI) which will enable area businesses to access the University’s researchers, expertise and advanced technology. The new centre will be housed in a $6.1- million expansion of Brock’s Mackenzie Chown Complex, which is expected to open in 2021.

    Brock University President Gervan Fearon said the visionary facility will make the Niagara community a Canadian leader in university-engaged collaborative research and innovation that enhances advances and the competitiveness of the manufacturing and agri-food sectors.

    “We are grateful for the Government of Canada supporting this strategic initiative that helps to build the regional economic cluster of the Niagara region and supports the competitiveness of industry across Canada,” said Fearon. “The VPMI will support applied research and development, innovation and commercialization efforts to help businesses grow and thrive. It will play an important role in Brock University’s strategic priority to partner with business and communities in supporting the prosperity and vitality of the Niagara region and beyond.”

    The VPMI will be comprised of three main components: research and innovation; testing and prototyping; and training. It will expand on existing partnerships created through Brock’s Advanced Biomanufacturing Centre (ABC), Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) and the BrockLINC.

    The VPMI will give businesses access to state-of-the-art analytical, prototyping and early-stage manufacturing tools, as well as to expertise and training, to help expand and tackle new markets. It will provide the bioproduct, bioagriculture, bioscience and chemical manufacturing sectors with a single-site solution to improve or launch products and new processes.

    “This will enhance industrial-academia partnerships by providing businesses with the capacity to fully design, study and characterize both biological and chemical systems while working with the related expertise at Brock University,” said Tim Kenyon, Vice-President, Research at Brock.

    The VPMI will work with a wide range of companies in Niagara and across southern Ontario in sectors such as wine production, cannabis, food-based products, health care, medicines and nutritional supplements, and chemical companies that produce polymers and resins used in manufacturing.

    Badawey said he was thrilled to see “Brock University taking measures to enhance research, innovation and the economy,” through the new VPMI.

    “This new facility will grow the region’s economy by creating more jobs, strengthen the relationship with various organizations and continue to highlight the importance of industrial- academia partnerships,” he said. “Brock’s initiative presents an innovative way to ensure our region is provided with the opportunity to participate in the competitive market.”

    Bittle agreed, saying the new facility would “ensure we keep pushing the boundaries to benefit the Niagara economy.

    “Our region continues to join forces and collaborate with our post-secondary institutions to keep jobs and opportunities local,” he said. “In particular, the project announced today for Brock University is a perfect example of how this institution brings together expertise in biology and chemistry to uniquely tackle challenges.”

    The federal government has committed $5 million toward Brock University’s new Validating, Prototyping and Manufacturing Institute. Pictured at the announcement from left are Niagara Region Chair Jim Bradley, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle, Brock President Gervan Fearon, Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute Director Debbie Inglis, Brock Vice-President, Research Tim Kenyon, Brock Chemistry Instructor Paul Zelisko and Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey.

    Categories: Media releases

  • CCOVI tackling climate change challenges with research vineyards

    28 August 2019

    Two research vineyards filled with thousands of grapevines are being used by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) to help 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 are being used for a clone and rootstock evaluation program of the main VQA grapevine varieties in Ontario.

    “We are looking at the best plant material for Ontario’s industry, not only now, but moving forward with climate change uncertainties,” said Jim Willwerth, CCOVI Senior Scientist. “Cold hardiness, fruit composition, wine quality and general vine performance will be examined, so that the industry knows the best combinations to use for our core grape varieties.”

    Since July 2018, more than 4,000 vines have been planted between the two vineyards. One vineyard has a heavier clay soil and the other sandy soil to represent different vineyard conditions found in Ontario. There are five different grapevine varieties and up to 16 clone and rootstock combinations for each grape variety.

    Planting was initially delayed because it was difficult to get certified disease-free and true to type grapevines in Canada. Starting with healthy, clean plant material is critical for this project to evaluate the best performing plant material under Ontario conditions.

    “For the research we are doing there is no sense planting dirty or infected vines. Clean vines are difficult to get, so we had to wait an extra year to make sure we had clean vines to plant,” said Bill Schenck, one of the commercial grape growers involved. “When you are planting a vineyard, the initial cost of grapevines is rather cheap compared to costs to manage the grapevines in the years that follow. Considering the length of time the grapes are in the ground, you want to make sure you are starting off on the right foot.”

    After an exhaustive search, certified clean plant material was sourced three years ago from outside Canada. Half of the certified grapevines were planted in July in collaboration with Huebel Grapes Estates and the support of Schenck and another grape grower, Erwin Wiens, who are each allowing the use of two acres of their land. The other half were planted last July.

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

    “The material is all certified, so we know these vines are true to type and are healthy,” said Willwerth. “The Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN) is now working tirelessly to establish a domestic clean plant program and this is extremely important so that growers can access clean materials from nurseries so they know the vines they are planting are the healthiest and are going to be as productive as possible.”

    Plant performance outputs from this research trial will inform CGCN of the grapevine combinations that should enter the domestic clean plant program.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Record crowd for Triggs Lecture Series

    15 August 2019

    It was an opportunity to talk about key issues in the wine industry in two provinces.

    The Triggs International Premium Vinifera Lecture Series, held every two years and organized by Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI), took place over two days last week in Ontario’s Niagara region and again on Tuesday, Aug. 13 and Wednesday, Aug. 14 in B.C.’s Okanagan Valley.

    More than 200 grape growers and wine industry professionals attended over the four days to discuss disease pressures and attend a lecture with Vaughn Bell, Senior Scientist at the New Zealand Institute for Plant and Food Research.

    “Hosting an international viticulture expert in key winemaking regions in Ontario and British Columbia allows our growers and winemakers to collaboratively discuss strategies to further advance and grow the industry on a national level,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “Vaughn shared a wealth of knowledge about vineyard health and insect vector management strategies taking place at home and abroad.”

    Bell said he was honoured to be selected as the featured speaker and said it was clear the researchers, and the specialized equipment and technology at their disposal, have made many positive advances toward helping the wine sector achieve economic sustainability goals.

    “I was impressed with the spirit of co-operation that exists between CCOVI and the wine sector,” said Bell. “From my experience in New Zealand, positive collaborations inevitably deliver the best results in the shortest possible timelines to those with a financial stake in the wine sector.”

    Bell visited three vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake on the first day of the series, discussing vineyard health and disease pressures. The next day, he summarized the discussions held during the vineyard tours in a public lecture at Brock’s Pond Inlet.

    After his stop in Ontario, he headed to B.C. for the second leg of the series.

    “The level of awareness around the interaction between vineyard disease and the insects that spread it has developed significantly since my last visit in February 2018,” Bell said. “That’s all credit to your sector leaders and those funded by the sector to bring about positive change.”

    To ensure the national lecture series continues to be held in two key wine-producing regions, BASF Canada, a company that provides crop protection products, again sponsored the event.

    “BASF is pleased to be able to continue our support of the Triggs Lecture Series and to give it its national scope,” said Tom Clarke, Horticultural Specialist at BASF Canada for the Niagara region. “It is important for all of us to work together and I think the discussions between Dr. Bell and the growers who attended were very productive when it comes to further developing our industry.”

    Launched in 2004, with a generous donation from Donald and Elaine Triggs, the lecture series was created to provide industry stakeholders, researchers and students access to the most current developments in the field of viticulture.

    The lecture series is further supported by the Grape Growers of Ontario, Lakeview Vineyard Equipment, VineTech Canada, British Columbia Wine Grape Council, Summerland Research and Development Innovation Centre, and the following wineries: Henry of Pelham Family Estate, Andrew Peller Ltd., Tinhorn Creek, Quails’ Gate Estate Winery and Mission Hill Family Estate.

    For anyone unable to attend, the Ontario and B.C. public lecture slides, as well as a video of the Ontario public lecture, are available on CCOVI’s website.

    Categories: Media releases

  • Brock’s CCOVI partners with industry to produce certified clean grapevines

    19 June 2019

    Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI) has partnered with the grape and wine industry to produce certified, clean grapevines.

    The Government of Canada recently committed $2.3 million in funding over the next three to support the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network (CGCN) as it develops certified vines for grape growers. As part of the project, CCOVI will be the national testing provider.

    “This funding will give nurseries a jump start to providing domestically certified clean plant material to the grower community across Canada and allow the industry to be less reliant on imported material,” said CCOVI Director Debbie Inglis. “Nurseries will have the opportunity for lower-cost virus testing by cost sharing with the CGCN. We’re looking forward to working closely with the industry to make sure growers are starting out with clean plants to assist the long-term viability of the Canadian grape and wine sectors.”

    CCOVI will catalogue and assess vines used for plant propagation from nurseries and grape growers across Canada. This will ensure that only vines testing negative for targeted viruses are used to generate new plants receiving the CGCN certification, which will help keep Canada’s vineyards virus-free.

    “Canada’s vineyards have become an important part of our national economy,” said Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada David Lametti as he announced the government’s commitment to the project. “With this funding, the Canadian Grapevine Certification Network will help ensure that growers have access to high-quality, locally-sourced grapevine stock to keep their fields healthy and prosperous.”

    CGCN Vice Chair and grape grower Bill Schenck said announcement is the next step in the creation of a clean plant network for grapevines in Canada.

    “We have been working closely with researchers at CCOVI and this funding will expand what we can do as far as testing our grapevines,” he said. “This will allow us to work more closely

    with nurseries as we try to clean up vines in the ground and help growers plant healthy vineyards.”

    The CGCN is also leading national research initiatives for grape and wine, receiving
    funding through Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC) and industry partners of more than $11 million last year to establish the Canadian Grape and Wine Science Cluster. The cluster is a collaborative project which includes researchers at Brock and other universities across the country as well as AAFC scientists, grape growers and industry partners in Ontario, B.C., Quebec and Nova Scotia.

    Categories: 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

  • 2018-19 Year in Review

    View the report on Issuu

    Categories: Annual Reports