Little Fat Wino, fondly remembered

The Little Fat Wino

He was anything but little.

Larry Paterson, well known to many in the Ontario wine industry as the Little Fat Wino, passed away today. It was announced to members of the Wine Writers Circle of Canada with this short note from his friend Barry Mitchell.

The Little Fat Wino
The Little Fat Wino

“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of sorrow, that I inform you that our friend and fellow winemaker Larry, passed away at the Peterborough Hospital early this afternoon.

Funeral and Visitation dates to be announced by Larry’s family.”

Larry was an unstoppable force in the Ontario wine industry. He worked tirelessly to promote Ontario wines, with a particular interest in the small, family operations that he felt were getting shafted by unfair rules imposed by various government agencies.

You may not have seen his name in major newspapers or magazines, but, trust me, it was his hard work and research that often showed up in various publications, websites and blogs that shed light on what he felt were injustices within the bureaucracy that regulates booze in this province.

I did not know Larry well. But I did talk to him often on the phone or via email. When I was writing about the privatization of the LCBO in columns at the Toronto Sun, and felt like I was under attack by the government agency and even consumers, Larry was there to offer encouragement and always had a kind word of support.

He supplied journalists with mounds of secret documents, only a fraction of which made it into print. He understood how it worked and never gave up trying to expose what he felt was scandalous behaviour at the top echelons of government bureaucracy.

Larry was a good man. He was quick to send off an email on a story well done, or a column he found particularly interesting. His interest was always the promotion of Ontario wines made from 100% Ontario grapes.

He also had a special interest in the fruit wine industry, which he believed is one of the most neglected segments of the wine industry. He worked closely with his friend Jim Warren on the Ontario Viniculture Association and spent endless energy fighting for the rights of fruit wine producers to get their products to market.

Larry was a force in the Ontario wine industry. A kind and caring man. He will be missed by so many.

NOTE: Here are a couple of posts from other sites that shed light on Larry Paterson and his contributions to the wine industry:

Tony Aspler posted this on his blog Tony Aspler’s blog when Larry was given the Grapes for Humanity Award:

Grapes for Humanity Award

Larry Paterson – The Little Fat Wino

This award is presented to individuals who have made an exceptional contribution to the Ontario Wine industry over the years, in appreciation of their commitment and passion for the VQA wines of Ontario.

The Grapes for Humanity Award is not an award that is given every year. There has only been one other recipient.

It is given to an individual who has made an extraordinary contribution to the Ontario wine industry over the years.

Larry Paterson could be called the “Johnny Appleseed” of Ontario wines. He is not a professional winemaker, nor does he work for a winery.

He is an amateur wine grower and vintner who has actively encouraged the propagation of vineyards beyond the boundaries of the VQA.

As a staff member of the LCBO he championed the cause of Ontario wines before it became popular and politically expedient to do so.

Through his website and his personal contacts he has encouraged amateur growers to plant vines in northern areas where the accepted wisdom was that wine grapes would not flourish.

His protégés have gone on to become professional winemakers and more will in future.

He calls himself The Little Fat Wino.

This bio of Larry is from a post on Wines This Week

Larry Paterson

Paterson, better known as “The Little Fat Wino,” was born in Peterborough to his parents Joyce and Murray. After attending Adam Scott Collegiate, Paterson took a three-year business administration course at Fleming College.

His parents wanted him to be a lawyer; he had no idea what he wanted to do.

Shortly before graduating from Fleming in 1975, Paterson landed a job as an LCBO clerk at the Sherbrooke Street location and stayed 30 years — he retired in 2004.

Through the decades, he worked at LCBOs across the area, including in Omemee, Lakefield and Bridgenorth, doing whatever was needed: running cash, stocking shelves and developing special store offers.

He enjoyed beer and rum and never gave wine much thought until 1990, when he was asked to help market expensive Ontario wines. In researching those wines, Paterson studied wine magazines and talked with wine experts. It piqued his interest.

“I liked the people I met and I liked the wine culture”, Paterson says. “If you can get by the snooty people, it’s wonderful.” He says he started reading everything he could. He’d sink into a steaming bath and read a wine encyclopedia for 12 hours.

“I’d bury myself in it” he says. “It’s just fascinating. There’s so much to know and I’ll never know it all.” Paterson set up wine-tasting groups and founded a Peterborough chapter of the Ontario Wine Society. An informal group of about 10 people would meet in homes, taste wines and compare Canadian wines to international vintages.

In the early 1990s, Paterson helped start the Great Canadian Wine and Cheese Show in Lakefield, which lasted three years. That show was then reincarnated at Fleming College as Taste of the Kawarthas. Paterson also helped found the popular wine and food show Fiesta Buckhorn and helped start the Central Ontario Viniculture Association — a group that provides public knowledge about growing grapes in this part of the province.

He has judged various amateur competitions and also judged for the Ontario Wine Awards. Paterson also donates wine and glasses to the annual Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Foundation gala to raise money for the Kawartha-Haliburton Children’s Aid Society.”

Through all his endeavours, he has tried to get more people to buy Canadian, and specifically Ontario, wine.

“I don’t know why,” Paterson says laughing. “I guess for the same reason I see California carrots in Sobeys and it pisses me off.”

Paterson’s basement walls are adorned with certificates of achievement, awards and medals. He was named winemaker of the year for 2005 and 2006 through the Amateur Winemakers of Canada. But he says he’s flattered to have received special recognition this year through Grapes for Humanity.

Food and wine author Shari Darling, who lives near Lakefield, says Paterson deserves this award very much.

“He has been a force in standing for the awareness and sale of Ontario wines, even when our wine regions were young.” Darling says. “He has led many people to buying Ontario wines over imports.”

Larry is best described in his own words at his website Little Fat Wino.