By: Ryan Hilborn, Executive Assistant; Madeline Ritchie, Program Assistant
This past year has been a banner year for the GGO, giving them more than a birthday to celebrate. Their hard work has been paying off in dividends, as sales of VQA wines has grown by 40% over the past four years and these uniquely-crafted grapes and wines are gaining prestige amongst Ontario sommeliers and wine appreciators. They were a member of the triumvirate of winners of the Friends of the Greenbelt Award, shared with the LCBO and the Wine Council of Ontario, honoured in June. After all of this they earned a celebration, and celebrate they did.
As guests filed past the elegant icewine luge of St. Catherines’ Club Roma (actually an ice sculpture with a tunnel for ice wine to be poured through and chilled, pictured left) and sat down to a beautiful meal, they found their settings transformed from a beautiful banquet hall into the Possum Lodge for just an hour. Red Green, the master of duct tape himself, took the stage to lead celebrations for the 65th anniversary of the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO), delighting the audience with his Gemini-winning brand of humour as only he can.
With lungs sore from laughing, the room once again became the scene of a classy affair still spiked with chuckles, a truly Canadian vibe. The room was addressed by many of the people who contribute to the daily success of the Ontario grape industry, giving their thanks and congratulations for all they do for the Ontario economy and our dinner tables. Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation communications manager, Megan Hunter, was on-hand to congratulate the Growers on their successful year and to celebrate their achievements in enhancing the visibility of world-class Ontario and VQA wines, wineries, and vineyards throughout the provincial, national, and international markets.
While the guests ate every scrumptious course that was placed before them (tempered with several Ontario wines, of course), past GGO Grape Kings and Queens were honoured for their service. Ed Hughes’ departure from the role of Grape King 2011 prepared the way for his successor, 2012’s Grape King, Curtis Fielding’s coronation, which took place after the celebrity luncheon at Fielding Estate Winery.
The luncheon also served as a venue for making the exciting announcement of a mobile app being developed for the GGO, which will include a map to direct tourists to Ontario’s many scenic vineyards and wineries. The app is still in development and has yet to be released to the public, but we got a sneak peek and can promise that it’s something wine appreciators should look forward to!
Grape growers and appreciators of their work and product generate a lot of good energy when they’re in the same place. Amidst all the humour, laudations, and elegance, the Grape Growers of Ontario Celebrity Luncheon mostly felt like a group of friends coming back together and catching up after a long hot summer of early harvests, sweet grapes, and even brighter futures.
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