Archive for ‘Wine industry news’

Devour! The Food Film Fest

Posted by Debbie

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2015

From Copenhagen to Edinburgh,  Los Angeles to Toronto, dozens of film industry professionals will be gathering in Wolfville, Nova Scotia for the fifth edition of Devour! The Food Film Fest.

devour film fest logo large colorInternational filmmakers, film festivals, producers, directors and other industry leaders will join renowned film star, Bill Pullman, for a festival that combines cinematic talent with extraordinary culinary creations from November 4-8.

Devour! is quickly being seen as the go-to festival for directors and producers to premiere and showcase their films in this growing niche market,” says Michael Howell, executive director of Devour! “We expanded our film program to almost 80 films this year and worked hard to ensure a rich movie-going experience for each and every screening through special guest appearances, engaging discussions and many other surprises.”

devour film fest logoAs a key component in the Devour! film segment, three industry heavyweights have been invited to select the festival’s best films. Winners of the five Golden Tine Awards will be presented at the Awards Brunch on Sunday, November 8.

Sonoma Int’l Film Festival head programmer Steve Shor will lead the 2015 jury panel. Canadian culinary icon Anita Stewart, founder and president of Food Day Canada, will bring her wide array of food and travel writing experience to the jury table. Finally, Scottish film producer Grant Keir, best known for producing credits with the BBC, ABC (Australia) and the National Film Board of Canada, will complete the well-rounded jury panel.

Devour Singhamton ProjectThroughout Devour! many directors, producers and film stars will attend the screenings of their films. Good Things Await film stars, Niels and Rita Stokholm will be travelling from Copenhagen to attend the highlighted Spotlight Gala film; Lucie Tremblay, Montréal producer of The Empire of Scents; Jonathan Staav, director of The Singhampton Project will be flying in from Toronto; Kimberly Wright from Sesame Street will be travelling from New York; Judith Olney director of Swank Farm from Florida; Devour Happy Goats make Happy CheeseBarbara Tranter and Libby Smith, directors of Happy Goats, Happy Cheese from Charleston; Erica Robert Pallo will be bringing her Austin roots to Nova Scotia for the screening of her film You Say Texas, I say BBQ; Leanne Bishop (originally from Port Williams, Nova Scotia), Michael Mason and Kelly Perine will be flying in from Los Angeles to attend the sold out screening of Reservations for Three?Jane Davis and Mandy Mushlin of Meet The Maker: The Pastry Chef; Rami Katz of Fish Soup; Max Lanman of I’m F**king Hungry; James Reid of Make Love: McCamus Maple Syrup; Brad Sayeau of Rising Canteen; Katrina Albright of The Shrimper; Piero Iberti and Jeremy Zalben of Joe’s Dairy; and Sally Karam, Michael Allcock and Jakub Dzamba of Kubo’s Crickets.

“We’re really looking forward to hosting our largest delegation of visiting filmmakers in Wolfville to date,” says Lia Rinaldo, managing director of Devour! “We also have a number of directors and programmers attending from film festivals in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles which is a true validation of our program’s growth internationally.”

Devour Bill PullmanThe #EatItUp Film Wristband includes five-day access to all films in the festival program, including the Opening Gala Film Babette’s Feast with Bill Pullman (photo at right) and Saturday evening’s Spotlight Gala. These can be purchased through Ticketpro now.

Tickets to the fifth edition of Devour! The Food Film Fest are available now through the Devour! website and Ticketpro. For more information about each mouth-watering event, visit


Devour! The Food Film Fest is an international festival celebrating cinema, food and wine culture. The five-day festival takes place in the culinary epicentre of Nova Scotia – the town of Wolfville, Kings County. The festival is an experiential celebration of food on film, the culture of food and the dramatic impact it has on our day-to-day lives. The fifth edition of Devour! The Food Film Fest is slated for November 4-8, 2015.


Only one hour from Halifax, the Town of Wolfville and Kings County provide the perfect setting for Devour! amid the beauty of the Annapolis Valley and the mighty Bay of Fundy. The heartland of Nova Scotia’s burgeoning wine industry and the centre of culinary and agricultural innovation, Wolfville is also home to Acadia University, one of Canada’s most renowned academic institutions, and a partner of Devour! The Food Film Fest.

For further information, please contact:

Media Contact:
Robyn McIsaac
(902) 440-1551




Great Wine Job Opp!

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

Looking to get involved in the wine biz? Reif Estate Winery of Niagara-on-the-Lake called us to see if we knew of anyone or an agency to represent them in Ottawa. This is a fantastic opportunity to join an established winery who has been producing VQA wines in Ontario for over 30 years.

The role would entail calling on LCBO, generating restaurant sales and participating in special events in and around Ottawa. This is a part-time position with the potential of full-time.

Reif Winery logoThe ideal person would be self-motivated, responsible, have some experience in sales and knowledge of wine or the food and beverage industry. They should also have a valid driver’s license and access to a vehicle. Remuneration includes a base salary plus commission. A Wine Agency wishing to add an Ontario Winery to their portfolio would also be considered.


Contact Carol LePage, Director of Sales on for more information.

Good luck!


Looking for a job in the wine, craft beer & spirits business?

Posted by Debbie

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Want to know what people are always asking me?  Since I began working in the wine industry over 10 years ago, there are two questions that I am constantly asked:

“I was away on holidays in ‘wherever’ and discovered X Wine that isn’t at the LCBO.  How can I get it shipped into Ontario?” 

“I want to get a job in the wine and beer business. Any tips on where to start?”

If I had a loonie…no, make that a toonie….for each time these questions come up in a conversation while I have a glass of wine in hand, I would be drinking Champagne every day!

Opportunity Knocks

Importing for pleasure or profit

With the rapid growth of the wine, craft beer and premium spirits too, there are countless opportunities to either join an established agency or to start your own.  You just need to be ‘in the know’ about them.  Additionally, you can get in on the ground floor at local wineries, craft breweries and distillers who are staffing up before they open their doors.  Still you need to be ‘in the know’ as rarely are these job posted on Workopolis or Monster.

Keeping your ear to the ground approach may not conjure up many job opportunities quickly.

 So how to get a jump start?

The Answer: attend the informative seminar ‘Importing Wine, Craft Beer & Spirits for Pleasure & Profit’ led by industry expert Steven Trenholme.

Event info

This seminar is hosted three times a year (twice in Toronto & once in Ottawa). The next seminar takes place in Ottawa on November 1st, 2014.  For details and to register for the Ottawa event click here.  You can also attend the Toronto seminar on November 7th, 2014.

Can’t make this date?  Email to receive information once the next dates once they are set.

Introducing…Industry Guru Steven Trenholme

Steven he knows everything AND everyone in the industry. In his 30+ year career, he has been a wine agent, a brand manager for Mosel wines (of Germany), the Canadian representative for South African Wines, a ‘head hunter’ for wine and beer companies and a manager of a national agency.  Steven definitely has the ‘how tos’ for the above two questions that I am always asked!

“As Canadians thirst for more diversity in the alcoholic beverages that they consume, this presents a very real opportunity for new agents and importers,” states Steven. “There are hundreds of wineries around the world actively looking for importers to represent them in Canada, so there are many opportunities to develop a full or part-time career in the industry.”

What’s What at the LCBO

The statistics validate these opportunities too. During 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario  reported sales of over $3.2 billion worth of imported alcoholic beverages – a 6% increase over the previous year.  During the same year, the LCBO reported that overall beer sales hit $908.8 million – a 4% (or $35 million) increase of the previous year.

If you are intrigued about the wine, beer or spirits industry – whether importing it or getting involved in the growing Canadian industry, you will find Steven’s seminar invaluable.  The knowledge he will share will add credibility to your job application as it is THE ‘must attend’ seminar in the beverage alcohol business.  After this seminar, you’ll definitely have a head start on your job search or might even be inspired to go out on your own.  That is what happened to me. I attended it twice to keep up on the changing rules of importing wines, as well as the operations and processes of the LCBO and the SAQ in Quebec.

“There are still hundreds of wine suppliers around the world actively looking for importers to represent them in Canada, so there are certainly opportunities to develop a full or part-time career in the wine industry”, reports Steven.

Curious about the wine industry?

Rest assured that your head will be spinning from all of the information you collect at his seminar, yet Steven is only a few clicks away to help you get started or answer additional questions. He is a wealth of knowledge and THE man to know if you are curious about working in the wine industry or importing your favorite wines back after a trip abroad.

I have taken a few courses where ‘the business of wine’ has been a required component, but NOTHING has compared to the relevancy of Steven’s content. If you are considering a career in the beverage alcohol business in Ontario, you need this information. Steven is experienced, professional and he offers sound advice delivered succinctly in one day,
offers  Alyson Carmichael, LCBO Manager & Product Consultant in Oakville.

Only a few spots left…Sign up now & see you there!

Ottawa Seminar on Nov. 1 & Toronto Seminar on Nov. 8



101 Things to do in Prince Edward County

Posted by Debbie

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

Where are you going this Long Weekend? We are always asked for travel tips. One destination we are frequently asked about is Prince Edward County.  Just a short 3 hour drive from Ottawa or 2 hours from Toronto, you can go for the day or a weekend getaway.

Stanners Vineyard vinesThis region, surrounded by water, is turning heads as Canada’s fastest growing wine region.  And it is not all about the wine either! The County has been named as Maclean’s Magazine’s Canada TOP 10 Places You’ve Got to See in 2014.

To help you discover all the neat things that are going on in The County, we got the Savvy Team together (over a glass of wine of course!) & jotted down 101 of our favorite (and there are still many more) things to do in Prince Edward County.

How far down the list can you get?  Do you know about other fun things to see & do in PEC that we can add to our list?

101 Things to Do in Prince Edward County Wine Country


1. Visit North America’s largest dry stone bridge at Karlo Estates.

2. Visit the Oeno Gallery at Huff Estates.

3. Do the Creepy Corn Maze (Oct).

4. Eat some freshly baked pizza at Norman Hardie’s.

5. Check out some great old barns at The Old Third, Closson Chase, Karlo Estates, The Grange of Prince Edward County and Hinterland Winery.

6. Sample amazing aperitif and dessert wines (and ports) – Sandbanks Winery, Hillier Creek, Keint-He Winery, Karlo Estates

wine_tasting_sparkling7. Taste some of the best Canadian-made sparkling wines at Hinterland, Huff Estates, The Grange, By Chadsey’s Cairns & Lighthall Vineyards.

8. Cheese Please!  All weekend long at the Great Canadian Cheese Festival (June).

9. Sample County wines at great local restos – East & Main, Blumen Garden & The Hubb.

10. Buy some artisan cheese to go with your wine at Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Co.

11. Toronto’s Drake Hotel now has a County location – Drake Devonshire.  Stay over or go for dinner.

12. Indulge in poutine and milkshakes at the Dari Bar in Wellington.

13. Enjoy some great apple cider & lunch of lamb burgers The County County Cider.

14. Need some coffee after sampling wine? Miss Lily’s Café or the Bean Counter in Picton.

15. Find your favorite mantra pinned to the wall in the Cherry Valley General Store (hint: they’re all about slowing down to smell the roses!).

16. Stop by one of many veggie stands – Laundry Farms, Hagerman Farms, Cherryvale Organic Farm.

17. Sit on the porch at a B&B or your weekend cottage and read Geoff Heinrick’s book A Fool & Forty Acres.

18. Pop in to the Agrarian Cheese Market & Speakeasy, featuring craft brews on tap, great ciders, wine and killer cocktails with live music on Fridays & Saturdays.

19. Take a cooking class at From the Farm.

20. Dining delight – Countylicious – twice a year, 8 restos offer a prix fixe culinary celebration for $30 or $35 plus grats & tax.

21. Chat with Bryan at Keint-He Winery.  He’ll help you pronounce that!

22. Get on your bike & ride the backroads or along the Loyalist Parkway.

Terroir wine festival23. Take in Terroir Wine Festival at the Crystal Palace (May).

24. Plan for a beach day at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

25. Attend the PEC Jazz Festival (summer).

26. Discover new local music talent at The Acoustic Grill in Picton.

27. Slide down the dunes at West Lake.

28. Harvest grapes with Norman Hardie & celebrate afterwards with a pig roast & bbq (fall).

29. Take a billion pix of the gorgeous gardens at Closson Chase then indulge in their wines.

30. Spend a Sunday afternoon on the patio at Huff Estates Winery listening to live jazz.

31. Red White & Blues festival at Rosehall Run features music in the vineyard.

32. Meet the dogs & owners at Three Dog Winery.

33. Get lost on the back roads.

34. Hear James call his Chardonnay vines ‘Bella’ at Long Dog Winery.

35. Stock up on your picnic goodies at Chef Michael Hoy’s Weekend Market at 106 Bridge Street in Picton.

36. Best bacon & eggs in town are at Picton Harbour Inn.

Debbie at 2012 harvest37. Harvest parties at Sandbanks Winery, Half Moon Bay Winery & Broken Stone are fun for the entire family. Here I am (photo at right) picking grapes at last year’s harvest – boy that was hard work!

38. Book a room at The Manse, Newsroom Suites, The Inn at Huff Estates, Merrill Inn or the cottage at Angeline’s.

39. Take an early morning walk on the ‘secret’ beach (at the bottom of Cold Creek Road).

40. Ice cream at Slickers.

41. Go apple picking at Campbell’s Orchards.

42. Sparkling wine awaits at Hinterland Vineyards – and peach slushies for the kids.

43. Visit the old-time school house at the Ameliasburgh Historical Museum.

44. Drinks & Dinner at Merrill Inn –guaranteed delicious!

45. What the heck is Wassail?  Ask around about this pre-Christmas festival where you sing for your drink. Does this photo get you thinking about Christmas?

46. Do a County Chardonnay-a-thon trying every Chard you can find.  Be sure not to miss Lighthall, Stanners, Exultet, Rosehall, Karlo….is just a start.

maple_web_logo47. Pull a pint of Pumpkin Ale at Barley Days Brewing Co.

48. Maple in the County is a great spring getaway

49. All aboard!  Stop in at the red caboose at 33 Vines Winery – it is their tasting room.

50. Visit the Lavender Farm when the lavender is in full bloom (June).

51. Chat with Pat at Del-Gatto Estates…where he lives la dolce vita!

52. Kick back & chillax in a Muskoka chair with a glass of Sandbanks wine…in their vineyard (must trys – Cabernet Franc Reserve, Baco Noir, Marchel Foch).

53. Go antiquing.

artstrail-bluesign54. Follow the Arts Trail & meet incredible artists along the way.

55. In the summer, sip Rose wines around the Wine Trail – see how they all are different – different grapes used, hues of pink…and tastes!

56. Catch a movie at the Regent Theatre.

57. Visit the gallery at Small Pond Arts to see Milé Murtanovski’s paintings made with wine.

58. Unwind one of the few classic drive-in movie theatres in Ontario: Mustang Drive-In

59. Take a break for wine touring & leisurely shop on Bloomfield Main Street.

60. Six Barrels for Six Chefs at Huff Estates Winery (June).

61. Get your heirloom tomatoes and lots of other fresh from the farm veggies at Vicki’s Veggies

62. How about a visit to Dead Peoples Stuff? (antique store).

63. Enjoy heaven in a glass with a sip of VanAlstine White Port at Karlo Estates.

64. Lunch al fresco at Casa Dea Estates Winery, Huff Estates, The Grange or Norman Hardie Winery.

65. Go house hunting – it does not cost anything to dream!

66. It might be a wine region, yet there is a distillery – 66 Gilead – that is a must visit.  Especially for their Canadian Pine Vodka, Loyalist Gin, rums & whiskies too.

67. Watch the sunset at North Beach.

68. Enjoy incredible classical music in a small church during the Prince Edward County Music Festival (September)

69. Make annual family traditions by renting one of the many of the Sunrise cottages.

70. Drop by Highline mushrooms to buy fresh gourmet mushrooms.

71. Homemade donuts like my grandfather would make await at Schroedter’s Market on Hwy 62.

72. Spend an hour or two checking out City Revival – a high end consignment shop.

73. Be marvelled by Lake On The Mountain – it’s mystical up there.

Premium Goat Milk Cheddar, Back Forty Artisan Cheese Co. and Black River Cheese Company74. Stop at Black River Cheese Co in Milford to try…and buy…all kinds of cheese.  Savvy Cheese Sommelier, Vanessa Simmons recommends: Maple Cheddar & fresh curds (TIP – when you put curds in the fridge, they lose their squeak)

75. Where else can wines be as easy as Not Red, Almost Red and Not White? At Sugarbush Wines.

76. Ride the waves at North Beach Provincial Park.

77. Go strawberry, raspberry or blueberry picking on the roadside – they grow wild!

78. Grab some wine after your round of golf at Picton Golf Course, Barcovan Golf Club or Wellington On The Lake Golf Course.

79. Pop in & out of all of the cool shops along Picton Main Street.

80. Bird-watching!! And don’t miss BirdHouse City.

81. Take the scenic route. Drive along the Loyalist Parkway – Hwy 33.  Start in Kingston or Napanee and it will meander all the way to Trenton.

82. Order everything on the chalkboard at The Hubb Restaurant in Bloomfield.

83. TASTE! at the Crystal Palace (late September).

84. Have afternoon tea or a treat at Tall Poppy Café in Wellington.

85. The December Busy Hands Craft Sale at Books and Company & Miss Lily’s Café, hosted by Vicki’s Veggies – great sale for gifts.

86. Pop into Greer Road Grocer at Rosehall Run Winery for neat locally made gourmet goodies.

87. Play life size chess in the vineyard at Casa Dea Estates.

88. Stop for Italian thin crust pizza at Bergeron’s Estate Winery…and have a glass of wine too!

89. Take photos of Lake Ontario with morning fog near Moonlight on the Lake B&B.

90. Buy Ontario wine – and beer! – not available in the LCBO – shop directly at the wineries & brewery in Prince Edward County!

91. Get married!

92. Running and drinking…drinking and running during Terroir Run (June) or county Marathon (Oct).

93. Taste wine in a converted cheese factory that now houses Exultet Estates.

94. Rent a cottage on the water for a week and really live The County life.

95. Stop at a garage sale.

96. Take the free Glenora Ferry.

97. Take a workshop at The Red Barns, an artisan’s playground, featuring blown and stained glass, pottery, and iron art.

98. Visit Canada’s first off-grid winery Redtail Vineyard.

99. Browse the books and say hello to Miss Ella Vader, the new book mascot at Books & Company.

100. Spend a weekend at Claramount Inn & Spa. Heavenly.

101. Stop by Huff Estates and get your picture taken with the giant steel pinecones.

…and the list goes on!   Even more tips and calendar of events can be found on Prince Edward County’s tourism web site is


Wherever you decide to go this Long Weekend…or anytime, why not work your way through this long list of things to see and do in Prince Edward County. It’s a beautiful place where you can make great memories of food, wine, great scenery – and more.  Call on our Savvy Sommeliers anytime on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926) for tips of places to visit.

Enjoy Prince Edward County!





Another reason to head to Prince Edward County: Terroir Wine & Farmers Market

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

Terroir is decanting once again for its 10th year to celebrate Spring! This anticipated annual event presented by Prince Edward County Winegrowers Association returns to the beautiful Crystal Palace in Picton, next Saturday – May 3rd, 2014

Just announced: Terroir is the first Wine sampling event & Farmers’ Market in Ontario licensed to sell VQA wines onsite. This means for the first time in Ontario, guests will be able to purchase wine while at the event, and take it home with them!

pec pix 1Bryan Rogers from Keinte-He Winery says, “This is a really great opportunity for people coming out next Saturday! They can try wines and then, for the first time ever, they can buy those wines right there and then and walk out the door with them. It’s an exciting time to be drinking Prince Edward County wines.”

The Grape Growers of Ontario and The Wine Council of Ontario have been working with The AGCO to allow VQA Wines for sale at Farmers markets and “it has finally happened” says festival organizer Scott Rondeau. “They [AGCO] are really trying to support the local wineries. It’s really great that they are showing so much support for local wines and allowing us to do this.”

“It is really good to see the government creating a new way to sell 100% Ontario wines. Farmers’ Market sales will be particularly helpful to the smaller wineries who don’t currently have a presence at the LCBO” says Richard Karlo of Karlo Estates.

Jump on the Savvy Bus!

Discover The County with the Savvy Sommeliers.  Enjoy Terroir to the fullest, $99 per person – includes round-trip transportation on a luxury coach, your ticket to Terroir, a visit to a County winery. . . or two!  The bus will depart from downtown Ottawa with pick-up stops enroute in west Ottawa as well as Kingston.

Reserve your spot now > >

So much awaits you at Terroir

wine tasting at TerroirMany County wineries will be sampling and selling their new spring releases and unique wines while pairing them with delicious gourmet food tastings. Guests will have the opportunity to meet the winemakers themselves, take part in seminars and demonstrations, enjoy live music, shop for baked goods, preserves, meats, sauces, veggies and more, while tasting some of Ontario’s finest wines.

With over 30 wineries, Prince Edward County has much to experience. The County was named one of the 14 Must-Visit Destinations of 2014 by enRoute magazine

A Wine & Cheese…with a TWIST

Debbie at TerroirOur Savvy Team of Sommeliers will be at Terroir.  Be sure to make time to join Wine Sommelier Debbie Trenholm & our Cheese Sommelier Vanessa Simmons for their Wine & Cheese with a TWIST ‘seminar’.

During this half hour, sip & nibble as you learn about County wines & cheeses from the Savvy gals who are constantly visiting the backroads of The County.



Who will you meet at Terroir?

Featured Wineries

Broken Stone Winery
By Chadsey’s Cairns Winery & Vineyard
Casa Dea Estates Winery
Closson Chase Vineyards
Devil’s Wishbone Winery
The Grange of Prince Edward County
Half Moon Bay Vineyards
Harwood Estates Winery
Hillier Creek Estate Winery
Huff Estates Inn & Winery
Karlo Estates
Keint-He Winery & Vineyard
Lacey Estates Vineyard & Winery
Lighthall Vineyards
Norman Hardie Winery & Vineyard
Rosehall Run Winery
Sandbanks Estate Winery
Stanners Vineyard
Three Dog Winery
Thirty Three Vines Winery 

Participating Food Vendors

Niagara College Culinary Program
Urban Herb on the Curb
Picnic PEC
Empire Cheese
Agrarian Bistro & Speakeasy
East and MainIced Cupcakery 

Farmers’ Market Vendors

Humble Bread
Nyman Farms
Emerson Pringle Carpentry
Essential Relaxation
PEC Hot Sauce Co.
Thyme Again Garden
Portland Bridge Pickling Society
PEC FareVikki’s Veggies
Jo’s Backyard Doughs
Raw Food
Barking up the Green Tree
PEC Lavender Farm
County Cooperage Wine Vinegar
Scottish AccentsPink Lunch Pail 


The event’s $35 in advance ticket price includes all wine samples and three food pairings. Additional food items are available for purchase.

$40 at the door (subject to availability)

Tickets can be purchased at


Hope to see you there!

Debbie & the Savvy Team



Looking for a job in the importing wine, beer & spirits business?

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Since I began Savvy Company 10 years ago, there are two questions that I am constantly being asked:

“I was away on vacation in ‘wherever you’ve just been’ and found this outstanding wine. Is there a way that I can order more & have it shipped to Ontario?
The winery owner said that they would do it no problem!”

“I would like to get involved in the wine industry.  How do I become a wine agent?”

If I had a loonie…no, make that a toonie….for each time these questions come up in a conversation while I have a glass of wine in hand, I would be drinking Champagne every day!

The wine industry is fascinating.  I have found that the people involved are typically interesting, well-traveled and have a joie de vivre that is contagious. There are so many wine events for the genereral public, such as the Gourmet Food & Wine Show in Toronto or recently-hosted in Ottawa, County in the City where winemakers from Prince Edward County were showcasing their wines  – white wines, red wines, sparkling wines, you name it they make it.

While you are at these events to enjoy wines, the winemakers are often looking for people to help them sell their wine.  Becoming a representative of a winery while holding down your day job or starting a wine agency from the ground up are two ways to be a part of the rapidly growing wine industry.


Let’s crunch the numbers…

During 2011-2012 fiscal year, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) reported sales of over $3.2 billion worth of imported alcoholic beverages – a 6% increase over the previous year – even in a challenging economic environment. More than any other consumer product, the alcoholic beverage industry has the ability to weather periods of slow or negative economic growth. There is the saying that ‘people will drink in the good times and they will need a drink in bad times too.’

Statistics Canada recently reported on April 11,2013 that net income among the provincial and territorial liquor authorities rose 3.6 per cent to $6.1-billion. More than half this amount is from the sale of imported wine, beer & spirits.

There is no ‘how to’ manual about working in the wine industry.  In fact, there are rarely job postings on Workopolis or Craig’s List either.  Those who know of wine jobs are often ‘in the biz.’ In fact, just last week two wineries contacted me asking if would recommend an agent to sell their wines.

So how to get a jump start on a job in the wine industry? 

Each year we host 3 seminars (2 dates in Toronto & 1 takes place Ottawa) entitled ‘Importing Wine for Pleasure and Profit’ by renowned industry expert Steven Trenholme.  Steven he knows everything AND everyone in the wine industry.

The next seminar will take place in Toronto on June 7th , 2014.  For more details & to register, click here >>

In his 30+ year career, Steven has been a wine agent, a brand manager for Mosel wines (of Germany), the Canadian representative for South African Wines, a ‘head hunter’ for numerous wine companies to recruit people as wine agents and to top it all off, manager of a national wine agency.  Steven has the ‘how tos’ for the above two questions that I am always asked!

“As Canadian’s thirst for more diversity in the alcoholic beverages that they consume, this presents a very real opportunity for new agents & importers,” states Steven Trenholme.

If you are intrigued about the wine industry or are already an agent, you will find Steven’s day-long seminar invaluable.  Many of Ontario’s top wine importers and agents started their careers after attending this seminar. Several Savvy Sommeliers on my team – myself included – have gained valuable insight to importing wines, as well as learning the ins and outs of the operations and processes of the LCBO & the SAQ in Quebec.

“There are still hundreds of wine suppliers around the world actively looking for importers to represent them in Canada, so there are certainly opportunities to develop a full or part-time career in the wine industry”, reports Steven.

Rest assured that your head will be spinning from all of the information you collect at his seminar, yet Steven is only a few clicks away to help you get started or answer additional questions. He is a wealth of knowledge and THE man to know if you are curious about working in the wine industry or importing your favorite wines back after a trip abroad.

“I have taken a few courses where ‘the business of wine’ has been a required component, but NOTHING has compared to the relevancy of Steven’s content. If you are considering a career in the beverage alcohol business in Ontario, you need this information. Steven is experienced, professional and he offers sound advice delivered succinctly in one day,” offers  Alyson Carmichael, LCBO Manager & Product Consultant in Oakville.


Interested in taking this seminar?  The next seminar will take place in Toronto on June 7th , 2014.  For more details & to register, click here.

Have more questions about importing wine, spirits & beers, we will gladly help.  Simply email Cheers!



It’s harvest time! Winemakers are uber busy

Posted by Debbie

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

My inbox is filling up with emails from wineries around the world reporting about their harvest or invitations to join winemakers to help pick grapes.  While it sounds romantic to be in the vineyard at this time of the year harvesting grapes, I can tell you from experience (in photo left), that it is nothing like the Hollywood movies.  Picking grapes is back breaking work.  It is fun though, when the rows are filled with chatty people who want to tell stories, swap wine tips or shoot the breeze.

The big question on the tip of everyone’s tongue is ‘How does this year’s harvest look?”.  When I ask, the winemakers often comment that this year, they are in a wait & see holding pattern.  In Ontario the general growing conditions was a cold spring, followed by a wet summer & a dry fall.  Unlike the stellar harvest of 2012, this year presented some challenges.  Now the talent of the winemakers will really show with what they can create with this year’s crop of grapes.

Here’s some quick clips of harvest reports that I have received to paint you a picture of how harvest 2013 is unfolding in wine regions around the world in the northern hemisphere. The southern hemisphere harvested their grapes already in February & March…in fact you may see white wines already on the store shelves with 2013 on the label!


Ontario harvest reports from…

… Southbrook Vineyard (Niagara-on-the-Lake)

Winery owner Bill Redelmeier reports:
“Well, that time has arrived. We spend all year building up to the harvest, and each year it seems to sneak up on us. The 6 weeks from start to end sees the Winemakers, Vineyard Crew, Cellar Workers, Pickers and a lot of others living on adrenalin and Tim Hortons coffee while trying to bring in their year’s work. This is the time that a year is made or lost. At the winery it is like a dance: wagons full of grape boxes arriving and being unloaded to be sorted, the sorting table humming and grapes either being pressed for whites, or going into fermenters for reds.

Our reds are a little later. The Merlot and Cabernet Franc should start in about 2 weeks with the Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon following. That is perfect timing, as our “Join The Harvest” festival takes place on October 5thand 6th at the winery. That weekend is a great opportunity to see behind the scenes of our bustling operation, and a chance try tasting ripe grapes.

We have been posting film clips on our YouTube site which you may find interesting, have a look and see! They are a great way to learn about what is going on in the vineyard.”

…Henry of Pelham (Beamsville Bench)

“September and October are definitely our two busiest months,” said Paul Speck, president of Henry of Pelham Estate Winery in St. Catharines. “We’re out conducting the harvest, but it’s also our busiest time for tourism.” Henry of Pelham started harvesting its Pinot Noir last Friday (September 13). The variety is handpicked for the winery’s sparkling wines, and about 35 tonnes will be harvested over the coming weeks, “We like what we’re seeing so far,” he said. “If we get some cool nights and warm days, we should have a good crop this year.”

That said, there are still some risk factors. Speaking Monday morning, Speck was weary of the hot weather predicted for Tuesday — in excess of 30C.

“You want to get the sugar up to a good level and the acidity to come down, but we need to watch to make sure rot doesn’t set in with the extreme (temperatures),” he said. “We’ve had a good July and August, but hopefully the weather cooperates over the next four to six weeks.”

Aside from icewine varieties, Speck said, much of the picking for the Pelham Road winery should be done by the end of October. That means those visiting the winery during the Niagara Wine Festival will have a great opportunity to see the operation in full swing, he said.

“It’s a great time to come in for tours and tastings,” said Speck. “You get to come and see equipment that just sits there for nine months a year in the fields and in action.

…Broken Stone Vineyard (Prince Edward County’s newest winery)

Tim, Micheline and family from Broken Stone Winery report:

Harvest Weekend took place Saturday October 5 & Sunday October 6 when their Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Meunier vines were loaded with succulent berries. Being their first harvest, this weekend was quite a party!

This is how the weekend unfolds (the big day is on Saturday)

10 am Arrive and start picking (truthfully, we’ll be out in the field by 8 am, so if you are eager, please feel free to come sooner)
1 pm Lunch & Toast to the Vines
2-4 pm More Picking!
4 pm Grape stomp & crushing
Sunday you’re welcome to come out, enjoy the outdoors, and help us pick, but it’s a much more informal affair.

Please wear your outdoor work clothes & bring gardening gloves.  We’ll provide a morning snack, hearty lunch, and an afternoon snack.   Children are welcome.  They can pick grapes, play soccer, stomp grapes, explore the property & jump on the trampoline.

October is a beautiful time to be in the County;  combine your day trip with a wine tour (there are 7 wineries on Closson Road alone).  Or you can stay until late afternoon and watch how we de-stem and crush the grapes.  Relax with a nice glass of Broken Stone Pinot Noir — our wine always tastes the best after you’ve worked in the vineyard where it’s grown.

British Columbia harvest reports from…

British Columbia Wine Institute says: “Early reports suggest that 2013 will be an excellent vintage with great quality potential.”

Penticton resident Michael Bartier, who is the chief winemaker at Okanagan Crush Pad, has harvested Gewürztraminer from a Summerland vineyard owned by his brother Don Bartier, to be used for their Bartier Brothers wine. “We harvested this vineyard a full three weeks earlier than last year, and the quality of the fruit looks very good. Prepare for a great 2013 vintage from the Okanagan,”

Christine Coletta (left), co-owner of Okanagan Crush Pad, where Haywire wines wines are made, expects to process 420 tons this year, from vineyards as far north as Kamloops and as far south as Osoyoos. “Grapes are ripening quickly and the fruit flavours on these early picks have been exceptional. But it is not over until it is over, so we are cautiously optimistic that harvest will continue to be a smooth sail.”

Matt Dumayne, who moved three years ago from New Zealand to make wine in the Okanagan, noted the vintage was shaping up to be the best he has experienced in the valley.

Judy Kingston, owner of Naramata’s Serendipity Winery offers, “2013 promises to be a great vintage at the winery. Lots of spring rain paired with hot days and cool nights made for ideal growing conditions, so we are two weeks ahead of schedule. The grapes taste phenomenal right now,”

The reds are coming along well, but we’ll need some dry weather coming into October. It should be an early year for everything,

Harvest Report from Italy… Hail & heavy rain dampens 2013 harvest

Italian wine industry web site – Assoenologi – provides this harvest report:
“Unlike 2012 when a series of adverse summer weather conditions had a significantly negative impact on wine production, 2013 has been kinder. Giving rise to more favourable conditions with an improved cycle of growth for the vines, slow maturation and bigger and fuller berries as well as restoring a traditional harvest time which in the Centre North, was up to10 to 15 days later than that of 2012 and 7 to 10 days later in the South and the Islands. 

Bizarre weather patterns, but not for vines.  Riccardo Cotarella, President of the Association of Assoenologi reports, that after a very mild autumn, one of the warmest on record for the past 25 years, winter started with a sharp drop in temperatures compared to the seasonal average. Throughout Italy January, February and March had higher than average rainfall, making this one of the wettest periods recorded for the past 50 years.

In Friuli in the first five months of 2013 rainfall equalled the annual average, in May, in Trentino 260mm of rain were recorded, the first 3 months in Romagna were the wettest in recent decades, and in the Marche from January to April/May the amount of rainfall (464mm) exceeded the average values for the last forty year by 46%. In total 50% of a year’s rainfall fell in the first three months of 2013.

Rainfall was also plentiful in spring and early summer, creating invaluable subsoil reserves, but at the same time giving rise in several areas, to a number of problems connected to virulent fungal diseases (mildew and oidium) which affected potential yields as well as creating setting issues after a heterogeneous flowering.

During the second half of July and for a month it was very hot, in August, there were important thermal variations between day and night thus creating ideal conditions for a very promising maturation, far better than those of the two previous vintages. Unfortunately, throughout Italy, there were also hail storms, that have adversely damaged the vines. 

To date – 31st August – less than 10% of grapes have been harvested. Puglia and Sicily were the regions that picked early grapes in the first 10 days of August – states Giuseppe Martelli, general director of Assoenologi and chairman of the Ministry of Agriculture’s National Wine Committee – Throughout Italy the harvest will peak during the last 7 days of September and the first 7 days of October, ending in November with the last harvest of bunches of Nebbiolo in Valtellina and Cabernet in South Tyrol, Alglianico in Campania and other various indigenous varieties on the slopes of Etna.

Early analysis suggests lower sugar concentrations than last year, but a more robust total acidity.

Grape maturation was gradual, over a reasonable period of time, not concentrated as in 2011 and 2012. A slow maturation implies a higher quality, it favours concentration of positive elements such as aromatic ones in white grapes and polyphenolic compounds in red grapes.

2013 therefore promises to be a vintage of attractive quality, but most of its potential is still to be assessed. It all rests upon September’s meteorological conditions and those in areas such as Campania, Valtellina, South Tyrol and Mount Etna in October. If September and October have adequate sunlight and rainfall we will have an excellent vintage, if rain prevails on the other hand, quality will definitely be affected. 

New Zealand wineries have already harvested & share this report…

Wines of New Zealand reported “Outstanding weather means we expect the 2013 wines to be vibrant, fruit driven and complex expressions of our diverse grape growing regions.”

Facts & Figures for the 2013 vintage:

345,000 tonnes of grapes were harvested, which is up 28% on the small 2012 harvest last year but up only 5% on 2011 Sauvignon Blanc is up+ 26% Pinot Noir is up +36% Chardonnay is up + 19% Pinot Gris is up + 44%

It’s worth noting that New Zealand Wines are currently tracking at +17% nationally this is the highest percentage growth of any wine category.


Stay tuned for more harvest reports. It might be October 15th, yet harvest is far from being over!



It’s Canadian Wine Day!

Posted by Debbie

Friday, June 28th, 2013

For Immediate Release: Wine Industry Calls on Provinces to Open Borders to Direct Wine Delivery

Today-  June 28th, 2013 – marks the one-year anniversary of the passage of Bill C-311. This momentous bill, sponsored by Dan Albas, Member of Parliament (Okanagan-Coquihalla), effectively amended the prohibition-era Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act, removing the federal restrictions prohibiting individuals from transporting wine from across provincial borders when purchased for personal use.

One year later, only two provinces – British Columbia and Manitoba – have permitted for the direct shipment of wine from a licensed Canadian winery to residents, while the remaining provinces and territories continue to object to the national legislation. Thus, despite Bill C-311’s unanimous federal support, the majority of Canadian wine consumers are still prohibited from purchasing directly from out-of-province wineries.
“The Canadian wine industry applauds the federal government for removing an 84 year old law which had restricted the opportunities for Canada’s growing wine industry to satisfy consumer demand for direct sales and delivery,” said Dan Paszkowski, President and CEO of the Canadian Vintners Association (CVA)

“There are now over 500 wineries in Canada, and with each vintage, more wines are produced than can be stocked or sold by liquor stores; however, that shouldn’t prevent an adult from purchasing Canadian wine directly from an out-of-province winery,” stated Paszkowski. “Consumers expect to be able to purchase the wines they want, in the manner of their choosing: from liquor stores, at the winery, through winery wine clubs, or online. Direct-to-consumer delivery would satisfy consumer demand, help local wineries grow their business, and augment liquor store sales. It is also good for rural communities and the entire Canadian economy.

A recent study calculated the annual economic impact of the Canadian wine industry to be $6.8 billion, supporting over 31,000 jobs in Canada, and contributing over $1.2 billion in annual government tax revenue. Statistics also show that Canadian consumers are increasingly selecting wine as their beverage alcohol of choice, yet Canadian wines only account for 30% of total wine sales in Canada.

“Canadians want to appreciate the excellence found in their own backyards and prohibiting consumer exposure to local wines is detrimental to our industry, and in particular, small family wineries,” said Tony Stewart, President of Quails’ Gate Winery in British Columbia and CVA Chair.

The CVA will continue to respond to widespread support for expanding consumer choice in Canadian wine, by working with legislators where provincial/territorial law prohibits consumers from purchasing wine directly from wineries across Canada.



About the Canadian Vintners Association

Canadian Vintners Association
The Canadian Vintners Association (CVA) is the national voice of the Canadian wine industry, representing more than 90% of annual wine production. CVA members are engaged in the entire wine value chain from grape growing, farm management, grape harvesting, research, wine production, bottling, retail sales and tourism.


Media Contact:

Beth McMahon,

Vice-President, Government and Public Affairs

Canadian Vintners Association

(613) 755-2736



NEW! Savvy Sip & Shop – order your favorite Ontario wines online

Posted by Debbie

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Introducing Savvy Sip & Shop.  With this new service you can now order ANY wines that we have featured at recent events we have hosted or have sponsored.  Mix & match ANY bottles of your favorite Ontario wines and they will be delivered to your home or office…within a week!  When you order 12 bottles or more, shipping is FREE.

It is that easy to shop for Ontario wines!

 Order Niagara-on-the-Lake wines featured at One Unforgettable Taste & Buy

 Order Prince Edward County wines, ciders & craft beers featured at The Great Canadian Cheese Festival


Never ordered wines online? No problem.  Our Savvy Team of Sommeliers is ready to help you & give you wine recommendations.  Call us anytime on 613-SAVVYCO (728-8926).






Wineries in the National Capital – yes Ottawa!

Posted by Susan

Monday, February 25th, 2013

Savour Ottawa recently hosted a number of intrepid local farmers, winemakers and micro brewers at the Château Laurier, who came out, despite the inclement weather, to introduce residents and visitors alike to their products.

Savour Ottawa is a collaboration among Ottawa Tourism, the City of Ottawa, and Just Food working to promote the national capital region as a year-round culinary destination, offering extensive and varied opportunities to ‘savour’ local foods grown, harvested and produced right here in our own back yard.

The event at the Château Laurier provided the opportunity to visit with the owners and taste the wines of two local wineries:  Jabulani Vineyard & Winery, located southwest of Ottawa near Richmond, and Domaine Perrault, located east of the city, near the town of Navan. In both cases, the wineries grow their own hybrid grapes – hardy varieties such as Frontenac, Marquette – and use grapes from specific Niagara growers with whom they have an ongoing relationship. Their wine is available only directly from the farm. Should you be interested in acquiring some of these wines, contact us at Savvy Company.


Domaine Perrault

Domaine Perrault is located on a dairy farm owned and operated by Denis Perrault and his family. Denis first planted vines in 1999, in consultation with a University of Guelph viticultural expert. A few years later, he extended the planting to 6 acres, and in 2006 received his license to produce and sell wine on the farm premises. When I asked if he was the winemaker, Denis’ response was “No, I’m just the owner”. A modest man, he credits his current winemaker, local oenologist Bernard Martineau, for the quality and style of the Domaine Perrault wines. The winery offers a range of wines, including varietal wines such as Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Cabernet Franc, Shiraz and Frontenac, as well as rosé and a dessert wine called Nectar des Neiges.

Domaine Perrault Sauvignon Blanc 2011

Product of Canada $16.00 12.6% alcohol

Vinified from Niagara fruit, this straw-hued white wine offers attractive aromas of grass, herbs, citrus and mineral. Dry, light-mid weight, the fresh flavours include citrus, orchard fruit and a touch of mineral underlaid by clean crisp acidity that assures a bright tasty finish. Serve it with coquille St-Jacques or with soft cheeses.

Domaine Perrault Shiraz 2010

Product of Canada $24.00 13.5% alcohol

Also produced from Niagara fruit, this approachable wine was aged 6 months in seasoned French oak. There’s sweet ripe red and black berry on the nose, mingling with notions of sweet spice, vanilla and pepper. Dry, mid-weight, it’s round and satiny in texture, spiced vanilla replaying, wrapped around delicious blackberry and raspberry flavours. Pepper warms the lengthy flavourful finish.

Jabulani Vineyard & Winery

According to Wikipedia, jabulani is the Zulu word for ‘rejoice’ and the owners, Tom Moul and his wife Janet, no doubt did when their search for a suitable site for a vineyard and winery led them to their property by the Jock River. They found it flourishing with apples, berries and wild grapes, giving them hope for success in their wine venture. Research on suitable grape varietals led them to the University of Minnesota and eventually to grape guru Alain Breault. They have now planted 11 acres to a variety of hybrid grapes including Frontenac Gris and Marquette. They also source grapes from a contract grower in Virgil, in the Niagara area. Visit their wine patio overlooking the vineyard, take a tour, or book a private event and enjoy, as their website suggests “The Spirit of Happiness”.

Jabulani Frontenac Gris/Vidal 2011

Product of Canada $11.00 13.0% alcohol

Enjoy the floral notes and aromas of stone fruit and tangerine of this dry yet fruity wine. On the slightly honeyed palate, there’s a whiff of mineral while stone fruit and citrus flavours replay balanced by fresh acidity and a touch of residual sugar through a mid-length finish. An enjoyable quaffer. 

Jabulani Sauvignon Blanc/Frontenac Gris 2011

Product of Canada $14.00 13.5% alcohol

Displaying grassy notes, citrus and citrus zest, this dry, mid-weight wine is crisp and tangy, with notes of passionfruit and citrus ringing through a lively, lasting pithy finish where mineral and citrus zest cleanse the palate. Serve with pan-fried white fish. 

Jabulani Marquette/Cabernet Franc ‘Barrel Select’ 2010

Product of Canada $18.00 15.5% alcohol

Aged 18 months in new French oak, this deep ruby red wine offers some classic Cab Franc aromas—floral, grilled herbs, pepper and dark berries. Dry, mid-full weight, it’s firmly structured with fine-grained tannins and fresh acidity framing rich dark fruit garnished with notes of cocoa, spice and  pepper. The extended finish is dry and savoury. Match to rare roast beef or grilled red meats.