Wine makers pressing ahead

By Michael-Allan Marion, Brantford Expositor

Michael-Allan Marion

QMI Agency

ST. WILLIAMS -- Wine makers and grape growers in the South Coast region are pushing ahead with their plan to establish the next designated viticulture area, says the president of the organization pressing for the prized label.

"We are going into the second year of our strategic plan and we are right on schedule," Michael McArthur, president of Ontario's South Coast Wineries and Growers Association, said in an interview during an annual general meeting as the group was preparing to head into its fourth year.

The meeting was held at Eco-Adventures recently on Front Road just north of St. Williams, across the way from Burning Kiln Winery.

"Overall, we have accomplished probably two-thirds of what we planned when we were getting established," said McArthur, who is one of five partners in Burning Kiln Winery.

"Our objective was to get to 125 planted acres of wine grapes. We have largely achieved that, and by the end of 2012 we expect to be in a position to apply for the designation. That designation will help us establish firmly our niche in the market."

McArthur lauded wine producers and growers who have worked together to get the region to the current stage.

Ontario produces the largest percentage of Canadian wine, thanks to the cultivation of 15,000 acres of wine grape vineyards. Currently, most Ontario wines spring from three DVAs: Niagara, the peninsula, which is the most developed; Erie North Shore, including Essex, Kent and Elgin counties, except that part of Kent lying to the north of the Thames River; and Pelee Island.

By the end of 2012 the South Coast region, which runs mainly along Lake Erie in Haldimand and Norfolk counties, will boast 10 wineries and 10 growing operations, McArthur said.

The association also has as members restaurateurs and suppliers of ancillary services, showing an increasing complexity as the association becomes ever more established in the area.

"We've grown substantially from a handful of people since incorporation. We enjoy great public support, as well as support from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and SCOR (South Central Ontario Region). They have been instrumental in helping see us become successful."

Among those in attendance were Dan Megna, owner and chef of Twisted Lemon fine-dining restaurant in Cayuga, and sommelier Patrick Field.

As a professional specializing in the matching of wines and foods, Field said he has added several vintages from South Coast wineries to the Twisted Lemon's wine list.

"A number of wineries are getting very good," he said.

"There is a lot of potential there."


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