VQA Promoters Awards

The VQA Promoters Awards are given annually at the Experts Tasting. The awards are designed to recognize individuals who have consistently promoted VQA wines through education and/or promotion in the areas of retail (LCBO Product Consultants), hospitality, media, education, retail, Non-Ontario promoter, Promoter-at-Large and Lifetime Achievement.

Mission Statement: To acknowledge those individuals that celebrate the Ontario VQA wine industry with unselfish enthusiasm, constructive input and unsolicited promotion.

Nomination Deadline: February 28, 2018

Recipients will be announced at the Cuvée Grand Tasting but the awards will be given out at the Experts Tasting.

Date of the Experts Tasting: May 2, 2018

Nomination form

Recognize the hard-working individuals who promote, in an exemplary manner, VQA wines in Ontario.

Additional information


LCBO: employee who goes above and beyond in their passion to educate consumers on Ontario VQA wine.

HOSPITALITY: includes sommeliers, restaurateurs, wait staff, or chefs who present Ontario VQA wines with knowledge and enthusiasm to the dining public.

MEDIA: Any member of the media (TV, radio, print) who seeks to understand and share their knowledge of Ontario VQA wines.

EDUCATION: Teachers, in formal or informal settings who educate and inspire students about Ontario VQA wines.

RETAIL: An individual who works at a winery (cannot be a winery principal) who promotes VQA not only for their own winery’s benefit but for the greater good of the Ontario VQA wine industry. Could be a retail front-liner, marketing staff or a sales representative. Could also be someone who promotes VQA in the wine “neighbourhood” through organizing events (some examples: regional wine marketing organizations, or wine conferences.)

PROMOTER-AT-LARGE: Someone whose efforts to promote Ontario VQA don’t fit into any other category.

NON-ONTARIO VQA PROMOTER: Someone who is active outside Ontario in promoting Ontario VQA wines.

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: A substantial body of work over time that has resulted in the growth in the appreciation of Ontario VQA wines.


Read the story about this year’s winners here

  • Education: Barb Tatarnic, manager of Continuing Education and Outreach at CCOVI, Brock University
  • LCBO: Melissa McFadden, LCBO customer service representative, Owen Sound
  • Hospitality: Mike Fish, owner of Glassroots Restaurant, London, Ont.
  • Retail: Brian Hanna, sommelier at Huff Estates Winery, Prince Edward County
  • Media: Angela Aiello, founder and editor of Toronto’s iYellowWineclub.com as well as Wine, Drinks and Cuisine Editor of Chloe magazine
  • Lifetime Achievement: Roberto Martella, owner of Grano Italian Restaurant, Toronto

Read the story about this year’s winners here

  • Education: Peter Blakeman, program co-ordinator for culinary programs, Niagara College
  • LCBO:  Nina Hofer, Product Consultant, LCBO
  • Hospitality:  Greg Elmhirst, general manager, Elmhirst Resort
  • Promoter-at-Large: Norman Hardie, owner and winemaker, Norman Hardie Wines
  • Lifetime Achievement: Peter Gamble, winemaker and consultant

Read the story about this year’s winners here.

  • Education: Evan Saviolidis, sommelier and wine educator
  • LCBO:  Ed Smith, Ottawa-Orleans, LCBO
  • Hospitality:  Darcy MacDonell, owner/operator of Farmhouse Tavern
  • Media: John Szabo, partner and principle critic at Wine Align
  • Promoter-at-Large: Kimberly Hundertmark, executive director, Niagara Grape and Wine Festival
  • Lifetime Achievement: Len Pennachetti, president and co-founder, Cave Spring Cellars
  • LCBO:  William Mancini, LCBO product consultant, Toronto
  • LCBO:  David Churchill
  • Hospitality:  Erik Peacock, Wellington Court Restaurant
  • Media:  David Lawrason, Toronto Life
  • Promoter-at-Large:  Shawn McCormick, uncorkOntario.com
  • Lifetime Achievement:  Lloyd Schmidt, Viticulturist

  • LCBO:  Charles Ronzio, LCBO product consultant, Waterloo
  • Hospitality:  James Muir, beverage manager and sommelier at the CN Tower’s 360 the Restaurant
  • Promoter-at-Large:  Harald Thiel, vigneron and proprietor of Hidden Bench Vineyards and Winery and chair of the International Cool Climate Chardonnay Celebration
  • Media:  Rick VanSickle, wine writer

View a gallery of the award winners here.

  • LCBO:  Astrid Brummer, LCBO Ontairo Wines Product Manager
  • Hospitality:  John Maxwell, Allen’s on the Danforth
  • Promoter-at-Large:  Angelo Pavan, Vice-President and Winemaker, Cave Spring Cellars
  • Lifetime Achievement:  Ken Douglas

View a photo gallery of award winners here.

  • Media: Suresh Doss, food writer and publisher of the website Spotlight Toronto
  • LCBO: Orest Poluch, LCBO product consultant in Guelph, ON
  • Hospitality: Jeremy Day, owner of Toronto’s Café Taste
  • Education: Christopher Waters, editor of Vines Magazine and continuing education educator at Brock University
  • Promoter at Large: Bill Redelmeier, owner of Niagara-based Southbrook Vineyards
  • Lifetime Achievement: Billy Munnelly, wine writer

View a gallery of the award winners here .

  • Education: Jennifer Wilhelm
  • Media: Michael Pinkus, Wine Writer
  • Promoter at Large: Ken Burford, President of the Ontario Wine Society

View a photo gallery of award winners here.

  • Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Allan Jackson, Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery
  • Education: Peter Bodnar Rod, WSET Instructor
  • Hospitality: James Treadwell, Head Sommelier, Treadwell Farm to Table Cuisine
  • Hospitality: Stone Road Grille (from left to right in picture): Joe Rutherford, Certified Sommelier; Brett Healey, Certified Sommelier; Ryan Crawford, Chef; Charles Baker, Promoters Award presenter; Heidi Johnson, Owner and Perry Johnson, Owner
  • Media: Lynn Ogryzlo, Writer

View a photo gallery of award winners here.

  • Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Linda Bramble, Writer and Educator
  • Education: Dr. Janet Dorozynski, Wine Co-ordinator, Trade Commissioner, Canadian Wine, Spirits and Beer, Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
  • Hospitality: Sylvia and John Taylor, Owners of Domus Cafe, Ottawa
  • LCBO: Michael Fagan, Product knowledge group
  • Media: Tony Aspler, Wine Writer

View a photo gallery of award winners here

  • Hospitality: Zoltan Szabo
  • Media: Konrad Ejbich
  • Retail: Carol Davies, LCBO, Fairview Mall
  • VIP: Dr. Donald Ziraldo
  • Education: Debi Pratt, Public Relations Manager, Inniskillin Winery
  • Hospitality: April Kilpatrick, Sommelier, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Toronto
  • LCBO: Stephen Blender, LCBO, Owen Sound
  • Media: Walter Sendzik, Executive Vice President and General Manager, St. Catharines Chamber of Commerce
  • VIP: Steven Page, Writer and Musician for the Barenaked Ladies