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Update 3: Despite Coyote’s Run staff told winery was sold, owner now says it wasn’t

Niagara marijuana

By Rick VanSickle

Well, in a bit of shocking twist, Niagara’s Coyote’s Run Winery, which a week ago appeared to be sold to Tweed, a legal marijuana company (at least according to what staff were told) is no longer for sale and never was, says the owner.

“I didn’t (sell ) the winery to anyone,” Jiawei (Paul) Wang, president of ZhongSheng Global Trade (Canada) Inc. and owner of Coyote’s Run Estate Winery, said via email today. “I’m not going to (sell) the winery to anyone. “

Last Friday, staff at the winery were under the impression that Tweed Marijuana Inc., a burgeoning medical marijuana greenhouse operation with properties in Smiths Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, had purchased the winery, which in itself was sold to Wang, a Toronto businessman, not too long ago.

Niagara pot

There were a lot of sad faces at the winery last Friday. All 10 employees remaining at the winery were under the impression they would be out of jobs as of Nov. 29, and all wine currently in the retail store was being sold at 50% off, and that’s after wine club members had first dibs. As well, the harvested Pinot Gris and Chardonnay was to be sold off as bulk wine to whoever wants it. No more wine is being made at Coyote’s Run as I wrote this a week ago.

But now, in a stunning revelation, Wang wrote in a second email today when I asked about the wine sell off:

“(Selling) my wine with promotion is helping me make more space (in) my warehouse and getting ready for the new wine.”

What? Well, there are now more questions than answers with this story.

As I entered the tasting room last Friday, cases of wine were flying out the door and there was a steady stream of cars coming and going. In the winery, guests were seated, unaware of the news, for the Pinot Affair, an annual celebration of all things Pinot in Niagara.

Niagara wine

Hospitality manager Cari-Beth Bernard could barely hold back tears as she discussed the sale of the winery.

“I’ve been here seven years,” she told me. “I’ve made lots of great friends and family. It’s not easy.”

Bernard said the remaining staff intends hang in until the last day, clearing out the wine and trying to carry on as if all is normal.

“We’re here and we’re going to make the best of it.”

Bernard also noted that new owner of Coyote’s Run, who she only knew as “Paul” from Toronto, wasn’t looking to sell the winery, but wine “wasn’t his passion and the price was right.”

I have no doubt staff were fully prepared for the winery being sold, but now, with this new twist, I do not know what they think. No one was answering phones when I called today.

When this post was originally written, Jordan Sinclair, a spokesman for Tweed, sent an email about eight hours after the post first appeared, saying: “I work at Tweed and just wanted to reach out to clarify that while we are expanding at our Niagara-on-the-Lake greenhouse and a number of our other sites, we haven’t purchased Coyote Run.”

An article in Niagara this Week in September announced that Tweed was making an investment of more than $9 million to expand its greenhouse facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

The article said:

“Canopy Growth Corporation, operator of the largest known licensed cannabis production facility on the globe, announced it finalized the purchase of a parcel of land — which includes an operational 458,000 square feet greenhouse — to expand its Niagara-on-the-Lake site to feature more than one million square feet of greenhouse space under glass. The purchase of the property, located adjacent to their current facility on Concession 5 Road, was a $9-million transaction and an upgrade is expected to begin in October that will include new irrigation systems, environmental controls, automation and shading systems and more.

“In addition, the company has announced a renovation to its present facility for postharvest facilities, including 10,000 square feet of space for new drying rooms and an upgraded laboratory, as well as the addition of a 212,000-square-foot greenhouse due to be completed by next April.”

The story quoted Bruce Linton, chair and CEO of Canopy Growth, who said the “investment to establish more than one million square feet of greenhouse space comes with much growth on the horizon, not only with the changing regulations in Canada next year, but international expansion and a medical market that has grown from about 80,000 customers a year ago to 200,000 today.”

Indeed, when I attempted to get inside the compound next to Coyote’s Run, blocked by a security gate, it was obvious that there is rapid growth at the site. With row after row of greenhouses it was clear a lot more of them were being built in a hurry.

I have a feeling there is still more to come with this story.