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COVID-19 Niagara Wine Wire: More postponements, wine for front line workers, a note from Dillon’s

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to play havoc with the Ontario wine industry, but it’s also prompting acts of kindest.

In this report, a local Vineland winery is offering hospitals and care homes much-appreciated gifts of wine, Dillon’s Small Batch Distillers sends a note expressing how they are handling the huge demand for sanitizer, the Peller family postpones most summer events and Graze the Bench is postponed.

Much Obliged wines
front line workers

Niagara winery Megalomaniac Wines is saying a big thank you to the province’s healthcare workers with its new Much Obliged label wines.

Thirty hospitals and care homes will receive a personal delivery from Niagara Country this week of two cases of the red and white wine to brighten their day. Much Obliged wines are also on sale to the public with a portion of the proceeds donated to Food Banks Canada.

Megalomaniac staff started deliveries this week, stopping at facilities in Hamilton, Hagersville, Burlington, St. Catharines, Stoney Creek, Welland and Niagara Falls. Deliveries are also planned to healthcare workers in Orangeville, Ajax, Pickering, Oshawa, Markham, Kitchener, Waterloo, Guelph, Toronto and Mississauga in the coming days. “We’ve chosen facilities that are particularly hard hit with the virus, where healthcare workers are facing significant challenges,” said Erin Mitchell, vice president of marketing for Megalomaniac Wines. “Producing and sharing a wine made with gratitude was one way we could say thank you.”

The winery hopes the public will purchase Much Obliged wines to demonstrate their gratitude to the healthcare workers they know — friends, family members, neighbours and associates. “They can give a small gift of gratitude, knowing that they are also contributing funds to Food Banks Canada,” said Mitchell, “supporting those in need now and when the pandemic is over.”

Much Obliged red and white wines are priced at $14.95 and $13.95 respectively, and are available for online purchase here. Contactless to-the-door delivery is complimentary within Ontario.

A note from Dillon’s Distillers

With the staggering response to our sanitizer, we have been overwhelmed with calls, emails and messages. We are trying to respond to everyone as quickly as we can while still focusing on providing help to those on the front lines of this crisis, but in the interest of reaching as many of you as possible, here is an update on where we are.

We started this journey March 17 with a little Instagram post about donating some sanitizer to critical essential services. Within an hour our world was turned upside down. We have had thousands of requests for sanitizer from all across the country. To date we have provided over 40,000 bottles completely free to over 1,300 hospitals, shelters, elderly homes, fire, police, EMS, etc. all over Ontario. We partnered with companies to give free delivery. I had local wineries bring me to tears by donating wine, bottles, caps, alcohol, labels, and time to the cause.

We had a total of 10 staff to distill, bottle, run the store, handle thousands of pickups, ship orders, answer emails, phones, etc. We have had 30,000 emails come in this past five weeks. Our three phone lines have been lit up from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. every day since March. We don’t have the capacity to deal with these kinds of numbers. Everyone has cried multiple times from both the stories of people in need and of exhaustion.

Once we had a system worked out to provide sanitizer to critical essential services, and approval of Health Canada, we released some sanitizer for sale to the wider community on the evening of March 31 on our online store to try to help cover some of the costs of making the free stuff.

Our world was once again turned upside down. We had over 10,000 orders come in since making the sanitizer available for the wider community and we have never seen anything like this. We had to pull the sanitizer from our online store so we could even figure out what we had sold. It takes us 30 seconds per order just to download it onto our point of sale from the online store, then we have to determine whether it’s to ship, pickup, what carrier, etc. Then packing, putting that back into the system, contacting the carrier and getting it out. It takes time.

We have people packing from 6 a.m. to midnight every day. We know the wait sucks and we’re doing everything we possibly can to catch up. We have been treated beyond graciously by some, and like the scum of the earth by others over this wait. We’ve been screamed at, had credit card chargebacks, have been told we’re stealing people’s money. We get it. We are trying. We promise. We are finally getting ahead of it and can see the light of day. We sincerely appreciate the support, and totally understand the frustration of the wait.

— Geoff Dillon and the Dillon’s team

Peller announces wine
event postponements

In a note to fans of the Peller Family of wineries in Niagara, a series of events have been postponed due to the COVID-19 virus.

In March, Peller announced that they would be postponing its 9th annual Party in the Vineyard: Food Truck Edition event. Now, after careful consideration, they’ve made the difficult but necessary decision to postpone all other winery events and annual dining events scheduled from now through June 30.

Peller will continue to delay the ticket release dates for its 2020 Summer Event Series, which include the following originally scheduled events:

• Party in the Vineyard: Food Truck Edition at Peller Estates
• Riesling Rocks the Bench at Thirty Bench Winery
• Yes Way, Rosé — Multi-Property Touring Pass
• Rosé Party at Trius Winery
• Rosé Brunch at Trius Winery
• Movie Nights in the Vineyard at Trius Winery
• Sip Sip Hooray — Multi-Property Touring Pass
• Party in the Vineyard: Wine Country Edition at Peller Estates

Graze the Bench postponed

The Graze the Bench team has made the decision to postpone the event until August 29 and 30. Which means the kick-off to Graze the Bench, Riesling Rocks the Bench, will be postponed until Friday August 28.

If you have any questions you are asked to reach out at 1-888-510-5537 or