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Wines in Niagara writer VanSickle named Wine Writer of the Year by Wines in Niagara

By Rick VanSickle

CATHARINES, April 26, 2024 /CNW/ – Wines in Niagara proudly announces Rick VanSickle, publisher and writer at Wines in Niagara, as the recipient of the Distinguished Canadian Wine Writer of the Year Award, part of its prestigious Awards of Distinction within the Excellence in Wine Writing Awards program.

This esteemed accolade recognizes Mr. VanSickle’s exceptional leadership as Publisher and Chief Wine Writer for Wines in Niagara, one of the region’s foremost sources, according to VanSickle, for the frivolous pursuit of fine, 100% grown Ontario wine.

With more than three decades of experience in the Canadian wine industry, Mr. VanSickle began his journey at WIN in 2008 as the publisher, writer, editor, and photographer, gradually assuming more senior leadership positions as he saw fit to assume.

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Throughout his tenure, Mr. VanSickle (above), who prefers not to use his “doctor” honorific acquired after covering a dog sled race in the Yukon in 1982, has been the driving force behind remarkable scoops, fostering joyous pleasure, and championing community spirit. Under his guidance, WIN has undergone a profound transformation, modernizing its operations from its flip phone beginnings, and pivoting towards doing whatever the hell he wants in an increasingly competitive market. Initiatives such as the Most Thrilling Wines of the Year, Twitter Twastings, expansion of its online presence to LinkedIn and delivery options (well, they don’t really have any, but whatever), the ability to set and respond to trends and customer preferences for red wines vs white wines, a focus on loyalty and a personalized experience, and the kick-off of a multi-year program to catalyze change through industry-leading processes (new notebook sizes, iPhone photo editing, etc.) and technologies (changed fonts on the website an incredible five times in 10 years), have positioned WIN as a beacon of innovation, committed to delivering exceptional reader experiences. In 2002, Mr. VanSickle created WIN’s first comprehensive harvest report, which articulates the website’s outlook for wines in each and every vintage. Together with its generous advertisers, WIN provided readers with up-to-date information and evaluation of upcoming wines for all to enjoy.

“Rick VanSickle embodies the qualities of a visionary wine writer,” remarked Maureen VanSickle, invoicer, partner and the only other person on the board of directors of WIN, who selected this year’s winner. “And while WIN operates exclusively in the province of Ontario, its dedication to excellence, innovation, and community engagement, spearheaded by Rick, has been recognized throughout the writing industry in Canada. We are thrilled to recognize his achievements with this prestigious award,” Maureen VanSickle added.

“I am deeply honoured to receive the Distinguished Canadian Wine Writer of the Year Award,” Rick VanSickle said. “Even though this is my 15th year in a row as winner of this esteemed award, it never really gets old. This recognition is a testament to the dedication of our entire team, including Maureen (well, only Maureen) who deliver exceptional experiences to readers and help to give back to the communities in which we live and work. We remain committed to working alongside our industry partners to build on our rich history and drive innovation in the wine industry.”

The Distinguished Canadian Wine Writer of the Year award will be presented to Mr. VanSickle at the Wines in Niagara Excellence in Wine Writing Awards Gala on May 28, 2024, at the Kilt and Clover in Port Dalhousie from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET.

Note: The selection committee for this award consisted of an esteemed panel of judges that included and only included the board of directors of Wines in Niagara, Rick and Maureen VanSickle, with their dog Maisy breaking the tie if needed.

In other related news …

The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) proudly announces LCBO CEO Dr. George Soleas as the recipient of the Distinguished Canadian Retailer of the Year Award, part of its prestigious Awards of Distinction within the Excellence in Retailing Awards program. Soleas, who coincidentally is on the board of the Retail Council of Canada, was likely quite surprised that his board chose him for this award considering the LCBO has absolutely no competition in the marketplace and is owned by a government agency. Did anyone mention that dismal 7% market share for 100% Ontario wines at the LCBO before choosing this year’s winner?