Colin and I had the privilege of being invited to the Andrew Peller Limited 50th Anniversary. Wine Sense is Andrew Peller Limited’s largest domestic customer for their Wine Kit Division so we were part of the fortunate list of invitees which included Peller family members, employees, suppliers and shareholders.
For some of you who may not realize- APL’s history in Canada’s wine industry has been vital and extensive. In fact if you’re a wine drinker in Canada you have assuredly at one point lifted a glass of Peller wine. The list includes such value priced products a Domaine D’Or, Schloss Laderheim, Royal and Sommet. The premium brands include Peller Estates, Trius, Hillebrand, Thirty Bench, Sandhill, Copper Moon, Calona Vineyards and Red Rooster. Hillebrand is in fact Canada’s largest producer of VQA wines.
If you spent any time in Canada in the 60’s or 70’s or 80’s your first exposure to wine was likely either Baby Duck or Hochtaler- ubiquitous Canadian brands. See if you remember this commercial? Or remember a certain little, yellow duck?
Not many people realize that APL has also played a very significant role in the ‘consumer produced’ wine industry (that’s us). About 15 years ago they purchased Vineco and a couple years after that Winexpert. They were and still are the leading wine kit manufactures but their acquisition by APL provided a whole new influx of knowledge, technology and raw material sourcing to the consumer produced industry.
What did this mean?
This meant you became better winemakers because the wine kits got better- and they continue to improve as the different divisions of APL continually share knowledge on an ongoing basis.
Back to the Party!
The 50th Anniversary celebrations took place at the Peller Estates Winery in beautiful Niagara-On-the-Lake in Ontario. The weather was gorgeous, the food was delicious and the wine flowed freely! To no surprise the first wine everyone was offered was Baby Duck– no point in forgetting your roots.
Of course we enjoyed some of the wines that are more indicative of APL’s current standing in Canadian winemaking. These were largely featuring the Peller Estate brand which included some of their Reserve wines like Pinot Noir and Riesling. One very unique wine was a sparkling wine which had a blend of Peller Ice Wine in it… very refreshing on the hot day.
The Big Band played, the Hochtaler girls danced and the Baby Duck was never far away.
We enjoyed the afternoon with our friends Rob, Arnie, Gavin, Rick and Frank from Global Vintners Inc (the name of APL’s Consumer Produced Wine Division which Winexpert and Vineco belong to). If you have attended our Limited Edition Wine Tasting chances are you’ve been poured wine by or spoken with Rob (the head of GVI), Arnie, Gavin and Rick.
We chatted with Steve and Mark from Noble Grape in Nova Scotia (another large wine kit retailer). We also ran into old friend Ron Hartman who owns LD Carlson, a wine kit wholesaler in the U.S. and Anthony Bristow who once headed APL’s Consumer Produced Division. Anthony is now the head of APL’s Commercial Wine Division which includes all of the commercial brands listed above. Anthony is still keenly interested and well versed in APL’s Consumer Produced Wine Division (GVI).
Colin and I had the opportunity to speak with John Peller, President and CEO of Andrew Peller Limited. John is the grandson of Andrew Peller who started Andrew Peller Ltd. (originally named Andre’s Wine because it sounded French) and son of Joe Peller who shared his father’s vision of Canadian winemaking. John is a great guy who appreciates the wine kit division of APL and understands its value to his company and more importantly the value it provides to everyone who makes wine.
The afternoon ended with some speeches and an extremely large cake. It was a great event and we were honoured to be part of it. The Peller Estates Winery is a gorgeous facility- if you’re ever in the Niagara region stop in, tour the facility, taste some wine and get in touch with your own winemaking roots!
Craig- Wine Sense
*You may view more photos of the event at www.facebook.com/WineSense