Minister Leal Visits Niagara Vineyards

February 29, 2016 

The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, visited the vineyards of Matthias Oppenlaender, Vice-Chair Grape Growers of Ontario to celebrate the 2015 Icewine Harvest.

 To mark the occasion, the Minister placed new signage at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Along with crafting superb 100% Ontario-grown wines, the Ravine Vineyard Restaurant was recently named to Open Table’s top 100 restaurants in Canada.

 “Ontario has a strong grape and wine industry and our government remains committed to ensure that the sector continues to grow and thrive. By expanding retail opportunities for Ontario wines in groceries stores and farmers markets, we are creating more choice for consumers to support a local industry while creating jobs for growers and producers across Ontario.” - Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Pictured: Kevin Watson, Erwin Wiens, GGO Directors; Paul Harber, Ravine Vineyard Winery; Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs; Matthias Oppenlaender, Vice-Chair GGO; Blair and Norma Jane Harber and Marty Werner, Ravine Vineyard Winery; Bill Schenck, GGO Director

“Minister Leal’s visit has provided us with an opportunity to showcase the skill and craftsmanship of our grape growers and winemakers who bring you Ontario’s award-winning Icewine and outstanding VQA wines,” says Debbie Zimmerman, CEO Grape Growers of Ontario.

Ontario is one of the few regions in the world where Icewine is consistently produced.  Last fall, 4,303 tonnes of grapes were left on the vine which has the potential to yield 645,000 to 730,000 litres of Icewine.

This winter, with its unseasonably warm and fluctuating temperatures, had growers a bit nervous about Icewine harvest earlier this year.  But the harvest is complete, the juice is fermenting and the quality is excellent.  Matthias Oppenlaender, Vice-Chair Grape Growers of Ontario says it best, “The variability in the weather is what makes grape growing interesting and the success that we have year after year shows the skill of Ontario’s grape growers and winemakers.”