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Ontario wine news: Sustainable winemaking on the rise; possible IPO for Constellation Brands’ Canadian brands; chair of Grape Growers stepping down


A roundup of recent news for the Ontario wine industry includes a record number of wineries participating in a sustainable farming program, grape growers’ chair Bill George not seeking re-election and Constellation Brands seeking IPO for Canadian wineries.

Note: From news releases sent to Wines In Niagara

Record number of Ontario wineries
adopt sustainable practices in their
winemaking operations

The Wine Council of Ontario (WCO) says that 36 wineries are participating in the 2016 Sustainable Winemaking Ontario program, including Harald Thiel’s Hidden Bench Winery in top photo. This represents a 30% increase over last year’s participation and the most ever for the program.

“Respect for the environment is a large part of growing grapes on our vineyards and in how we produce our wine,” said Bruno Friesen, Viticulturist of Pelee Island Winery in Kingsville and Pelee Island Winery Pavilion in Lake Erie North Shore. “From using old world methods to adopting innovative farm management practices, we continue to keep our wine authentic and reflect the land where it is grown.”

The Sustainable Winemaking Ontario program was launched in 2007 in partnership with the Grape Growers of Ontario for Ontario’s grape and wine industry as a way to acknowledge Ontario’s environmentally-friendly wineries and vineyards. The Sustainable Winemaking Ontario program gives winemakers and growers the educational resources to increase sustainable practices and to record and measure progress. The program creates an industry standard for sustainable practices and helps identify individual strengths and areas of improvement.

“I applaud this year’s wineries and their commitment to the Sustainable Winemaking Ontario program,” said Allan Schmidt, Chair of the WCO. “By producing wines in an environmentally-friendly manner Ontario wineries are showing leadership while meeting the needs of today’s environmentally conscious consumer.”

Recognizing the sustainable practices implemented by many of Ontario’s winemakers and growers, the WCO acknowledges the efforts these wineries take to ensure their land is a better place for future generations.

2016 sustainable winemaking participants:

  • Black Prince Winery
  • Cattail Creek Estate Winery
  • Cave Spring Cellars
  • Château des Charmes
  • Coyote’s Run Estate Winery
  • Creekside Estate Winery
  • Di Profio Wines
  • Flat Rock Cellars
  • Frogpond Farm Organic Winery
  • Grange of Prince Edward
  • GreenLane Estate Winery
  • Harwood Estate Vineyards
  • Henry of Pelham Family Estate
  • Hidden Bench Vineyards & Winery
  • Kacaba Vineyards & Winery
  • Konzelmann Estate Winery
  • Malivoire Wine Company
  • Megalomaniac John Howard Cellars of Distinction
  • Niagara College Teaching Winery
  • Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard

  • Pelee Island Winery
 Pelee Island Winery Pavilion
 Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery
  • Pillitteri Estates Winery

  • PondView Estate Winery

  • Redtail Vineyard

  • Reif Estate Winery

  • Reimer Vineyards

  • Riverview Cellars Estate Winery
  • Rosewood Estates Winery
 Small Talk Vineyards
 Southbrook Vineyards

  • Sue-Ann Staff Estate Winery

  • Strewn Winery
 Three Dog Winery

Chair of Ontario Grape Growers
not seeking re-election


Following the Grape Growers of Ontario’s annual general meeting April 6, CEO Debbie Zimmerman announced that chair Bill George, above and below with Prince Charles during a visit to Niagara College, has decided not to see re-election to the board of directors.

George was first elected to the Grape Growers of Ontario’s Growers’ Committee and to the Board of Directors in 1994, and has been re-elected every year since. In 2001 George was recognized by his peers and named Grape King to represent Ontario’s grape growing industry to government, media and other grape growing regions.


Following his term as Grape King, George was elected Vice Chair in 2003, and became Chair of the Board in 2007. For the past eight years George has led the GGO through many challenges with determination, integrity and always with a focus on achieving the best possible outcome for the Ontario grape and wine industry.

His achievements as Chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario will be recognized at a special event in June.

Constellation Brands considers
IPO for Canadian brands


Constellation Brands said on Wednesday it was considering taking a part of its Canadian wine business public and reported better-than-expected quarterly net sales, helped by strong demand for its premium Corona and Modelo beers, according to Reuters news agency.

Shares of the New York-based wine, beer and spirits company, which forecast full-year profit largely above estimates, rose as much as 4.88 per cent to a record high of $158.75 in early morning trading (all figures US$).

CEO Rob Sands said the full value of the Canadian wine business, which delivered “excellent overall financial results” in 2016, was not being recognized, according to Reuters.

Sands said an IPO would create better visibility and that the company expected to take a final decision later this year.

Constellation produces the Jackson-Triggs and Inniskillin wine brands in Canada, where it operates eight wineries in Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick as of February last year.

The company, whose Canadian holdings also include the Black Velvet whisky distillery at Lethbridge, Alta., is trying to separate the consistently growing Canadian wine business from its counterpart in the U.S., CLSA analyst Caroline Levy told Reuters.

Constellation also said it will acquire The Prisoner Wine Company’s portfolio of brands for about $285 million in cash from Huneeus Vintners, a fine wine company.