News & Notes on the Canadian Wine Industry

By: Briana Tomkinson

Across Canada, provincial governments are slowly loosening restrictions for producers and retailers of wine, beer and alcoholic craft beverages. For most in the industry, relaxing regulations on what can be produced and where it can be sold can’t happen fast enough.

  Federal and provincial governments are also investing heavily in new programs to encourage Canadian winemakers to scale up their businesses, as well as agricultural science initiatives to improve growing efficiency and reduce crop threats.

  Meanwhile, one researcher at a Canadian university has proven that wine-drinkers really can judge a bottle by its label. Read on for more on these and other stories about what’s going on in Canada’s wine industry.

B.C. to Allow Imported Wine in Grocery Stores

  In July, British Columbia amended its laws to allow licensed grocery stores to stock wine from anywhere in the world. Previously, the province had only permitted locally produced wines with a Vintners Quality Alliance designation on grocery shelves.

  The previous policy caused friction with international trade partners, including the U.S., the Eu-ropean Union and New Zealand, who have all lodged complaints with the World Trade Organi-zation.

  According to an article published in Business In Vancouver magazine, there are at least 29 gro-cery stores in the province that are permitted to sell British Columbia VQA wine. Prior to 2015, wine could not be sold in the province’s grocery stores.

  The trend to open alcohol sales channels beyond the provincial liquor distribution board outlets is continuing in Ontario too. The provincial government announced in June that it would soon change the rules to allow sales of wine and beer in corner and grocery stores.

  According to an Oct. 5 article in CBC News, Ontario distilleries are now lobbying for permission to sell spirits in these outlets too. This follows recommendations from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce published in July that recommend making it easier for customers to buy all types of alcohol, including allowing online liquor sales.

Ontario Invests $15-Million to Grow Wine, Beer and Craft Beverage Industry

  In late September, the government of Ontario announced a plan to invest $15 million to boost local wineries, microbreweries and distilleries. The one-year transition funding is targeted at helping wineries grow their VQA business, promoting Ontario wine tourism, providing support for cideries and distilleries to scale up and expand their operations, as well as improving mar-keting, tourism, export and research initiatives.

The government also announced it would reduce red tape for producers. The changes will in-cluding allowing wineries, cideries and distilleries to keep serving booze in their tasting rooms until midnight, instead of being required to close at 9 p.m., and making it easier for producers to sell at farmers’ markets.

This news follows a few other notable funding announcements in the sector.

In August, the federal and provincial governments announced $75,000 in new funding to ad-vance the production of locally grown grapes in the Niagara region.

  A part of the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, the new fund includes $67,600 to develop a modern weather network with real-time information that will enhance eGrape, an existing in-dustry database. The database provides growers with information that can improve efficiency and productivity. The fund also includes $8,700 for an analysis of the wash water used to clean grape harvesters and to survey grape growers about water use practices.

  The Canadian Agricultural Partnership is a five-year, $3 billion commitment from federal, pro-vincial and territorial governments to improve Canada’s agri-food and agri-product sectors. 

  According to the Grape Growers of Ontario, grapes grown for Ontario wines contribute more than $4 billion annually to the province’s economy. The industry employs over 18,000 people.

Turns Out You Really Can Judge a Wine by Its Label

  New research from the University of British Columbia suggests that looks really do count—when it comes to wine, at least.

  Through a series of online surveys and in-person tests designed to determine each person’s branding and taste preference, the UBC study found that people were more likely to enjoy wine from a bottle with a design that reflected their personal identity.

  In a CBC News report on the findings, researcher Darcen Esau, a wine marketing consultant, said people thought the wine tasted better when they identified with the imagery on the label—no matter what was actually in their glass.

  The study, released in spring 2019, was conducted as part of Esau’s master’s program at UBC. Esau has since gone on to found TasteAdvisor (, an app that rec-ommends British Columbia wines, wineries and wine events or experiences based on your per-sonal profile and preferences.

Canadian Cidermaker Spared Paying $2 Million in Duties After Court Declares Cider is Wine

  A recent ruling by the Federal Court of Appeal found that a Canadian cidery was not required to pay the roughly $2 million in duties demanded by the Canadian government because the cider was technically considered Canadian-made wine, and therefore exempt.

  According to the Excise Act, any alcoholic beverage made from fermenting plants (except for grains) is considered wine. That’s important because the Canadian government imposes ex-cise duties on alcohol, but makes exceptions for Canadian-made wine.

  The Canada Revenue Agency argued that because Okanagan Premium Cider and Extra Hard Cider, produced by the Mark Anthony Group, was made using foreign-sourced apple juice concentrate and, in the case of the extra hard cider, foreign-produced spirits, the beverages were no longer “Canadian” and the alcohol duties should apply.

  The case centered on a key question: when exactly is wine “produced?” The judge determined that the test of a wine’s “Canadian-ness” should be applied at the time of fermentation, not bottling. He also noted that, if the assessment happened at the bottling stage, the addition of water, commonly added to cider after fermentation, would automatically disqualify the product from being wine since water is not a plant grown in Canada. 

164 wineries to showcase at Vancouver International Wine Festival next year

  The 42nd annual Vancouver International Wine Festival (, scheduled for Feb. 22 to March 1, 2020, will feature 164 wineries from 15 countries pouring over 650 varieties of wine.

  The festival has been named the top food, wine and hospitality event in Canada by New York’s BizBash for seven years running, and was recently named the best North American interna-tional wine festival by LUX Life Magazine.

  Just over 40 of the participating wineries are from this year’s featured country of France, with another 70 from North America. There will also be representatives from wineries in Italy, Ger-many, Croatia, Romania and the Iberian peninsula, as well as two Sake producers from Japan.

  Tasting events will feature over 200 French wines, and the country’s wines will be celebrated in more than two dozen more activities, including vine star seminars, vintage tastings, winery din-ners, a wine party and a Saturday lunch, Bon Appétit, which will feature all 43 participating French wineries. The festival will spotlight rosé wines from around the world, with an estimated 75 varieties to taste, many from Provence.

  The main event will take place at the Vancouver Convention Centre, however more than 25 res-taurants and other venues will host wine-related events all over town. Discounted advance tickets went on sale Nov. 6 while public event tickets go on sale Jan. 8. Tickets for trade events are on sale Jan. 22.

Falconry at Featherstone

By: Michael Strickland

For Louise Engel and Dave Johnson, the decision to fly a raptor over their 23-acre vineyard and winery was a no brainer.

  Like so many other fruit growers across North America, the owners of Featherstone Estate Wineries in Ontario’s Niagara Region had waged a frustrating war against starlings. A flock of 5,000 can consume a ton of fruit in just 10 days, though they cause even greater damage by pecking more berries than they eat. The weeping fruit attracts fruit flies, which encourages rot.

  Grapes are often the last crop to be harvested, long after cherries, strawberries and tender fruit have left the field. With less soft fruit to binge on, bugs start to disappear. By October, grapes are one of the last food sources—a juicy-fruity one no less—visible from the sky.

  “When you look at that vineyard, and you’ve looked after and babied these vines along, and it’s now October 10th, and the fruit is loaded and healthy, and you see a flock of starlings—of five, six or ten-thousand—just descend on you, we run out and we’ve got all kinds of cannons and bangers, it is breathtakingly annoying,” says Johnson.  So, when Engel said she thought she had a solution, Johnson says, “it was a no brainer.”

  Engel attended a bird of prey demonstration in October 2003, four years after the couple opened Featherstone. She returned determined to take up falconry, undertook the 15-month certification required in Ontario and purchased a Harris Hawk named Amadeus.

  Today she is president of the 200-member Ontario Falconry Club. While falconry is a common bird abatement technique in the U.S., she’s not aware of anyone else really adopting the practice in Canada.

  “We’re certainly the only winery that has a resident bird of prey, or that does it on a regular basis,” she says.

  While Featherstone continues to use noisemakers and netting against starlings, few things work quite like Amadeus. “The one thing they never get used to is hawk silhouettes,” says Engel. “When you put a bird of prey in the air, everyone leaves, and it becomes very quiet.”

  Only for a little while, however. Like nets and noisemakers, falconry has its limits. Starlings will find holes in the nets, and they’ll return when the noise dies down, or Amadeus leaves the sky.

  “So it’s effective while I fly him, but then I put him away and go do other things, and it ceases to be effective,” says Engel. “So it’s best not to get on too much of a routine, to fly him as periodically as I can.”

A Working Relationship

  After spending one long night looking for Amadeus, Engel no longer flies him without a tracker. He is a bird of prey, she stresses, with no emotional attachments. He can and will leave if and when he wants. She relies on a trust relationship—a rather mercenary one—to bring him back at the end of each flight.

  Amadeus views Engel as a source of hunting opportunities. She regularly provides him with the chance to hunt starlings and, if he catches something, he gets to it eat it. Since he frightens away far more prey than he finds, Engel is also a ready source of food. When he returns empty-handed, she greets him with bits of quail.

  “So there’s a bond there that is predicated on positive reinforcement and hunting.”

  For growers interested in using birds as a pest control method but hoping for a little more control, Harris Hawks are a popular choice for beginners. They are one of the few avian predator species that hunt in castes, a family unit akin to a wolf pack, working collectively in the wild.

  “When I, as a falconer, am in the field with them, that kind of fits in with their paradigm quite naturally,” says Engel. “They’re a little less independent and a little more predisposed to want to work with you to find hunting situations.”

Natural and Eco-friendly

  Adding Amadeus to the mix of pest abatement strategies fits with Engel and Johnson’s eco-friendly approach to viticulture. They live on their 23-acre property, farming 20 acres of it, and have a vested interest in being responsible stewards.

  Featherstone has been insecticide-free since day one and has adopted a range of natural practices to deal with pests that threaten the vines. Methods include using diatomaceous earth (which is abrasive and irritating to insects), bringing in beneficial predatory insects like the ladybug, and using pheromones to disrupt mating cycles. In 2008, they purchased a recycle sprayer to capture and reuse any spray that does not stick to the vines.

  Johnson is mainly focused on natural ways of keeping his soil as healthy as possible. He plants cover crops (25% legumes, 25% daikon radish and 50% ryegrass) between rows of grapes. He’s also determined to fight soil compaction by reducing tractor passes, aiming to reduce the total by one pass each year.

  “The big issue for us, and the thing we’re working on all the time is compaction of the vineyard floor,” says Johnson. “We’re trying to get tractor trips reduced. I think that’s more important than organics, biodynamics or anything else. We need to get the equipment out of there.”

  To that end, Featherstone has adopted “lamb labor” to help keep the vineyards “sheep shape.”

  Johnson first learned of the practice in 2007, when he spent time in New Zealand as a guest Pinot Noir specialist at the Sileni Estates Winery and Cellar Door. He’d noticed that the leaf pulling was flawless—the low fruit zone was cleared, allowing sunlight and air to reach the grapes, while the upper canopy looked unmolested—and wondered how that was accomplished.

  At the time, Featherstone was paying migrant workers $200 to clear each acre. Sileni were letting sheep do it for free.

  “They can’t afford to irrigate a pasture for sheep,” says Johnson, “and the vineyards are all fenced to keep the sheep out. Then, at a certain time of year, they open the gates, and they allow the lambs to flood into the vineyards. They strip out the grass, then pick their heads up and start eating those lowest leaves.”

  Featherstone has been using lamb labor ever since. Each February, they purchase 25 or more baby sheep and begin confining them to one-hectare areas as soon as the first varietals, the Pinot and Chardonnay grapes, need leaf clearing. That seems the perfect number to entirely clear a hectare in roughly 10 days, after which he moves the flock to the next area. By the fall, they’re clearing the Cabernet Franc.

  Sheep are perfect because they eat only leaves. Goats, Johnson points out, would eat everything and likely destroy the vineyards. Lambs, it turns out, are also the perfect size.

  “What we worked out here is that they need to be no more than 22 inches high at the shoulder. Otherwise,” he says, “they reach too high and are stripping too many leaves. So we have set the vineyard and pruned it particularly so that the fruit zone is sitting at 22 to 32 inches above the ground. That is the reaching height of a lamb.”

  For Engel and Johnson, these eco-friendly practices are about living a more natural life, a life where all aspects are as fully integrated with nature as possible.

  “We’re interested in complete integration, in being integrated with all aspects of the property, and capitalizing on natural relationships where possible,” Engel says. “Whether its natural predator-prey relationships, or it’s help that just naturally grazes in the vineyards and then helps you with leaf removal, those kinds of integrations appeal to us on a number of levels.”

  The approach seems to be producing one key result: great wines. Featherstone turns 20 this year and was just named Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards. The judges recognized Featherstone’s consistent quality across the portfolio, successes in wine awards and overall contributions to the industry.

  Engel and Johnson realize that their approach is not for everyone. For one thing, it reflects their personal beliefs. They also acknowledge economics and other factors would make all of these practices more challenging if Featherstone were larger, or more commercial than craft.

  “We’re still classified as a small winery, at the larger end of small, but a nice size for us, given our tank capacity, the size of our press and all that,” says Engel. “Were we to get bigger, we’d need to get a lot bigger, and we’re pretty happy at this size. It lets us keep our fingerprints all over everything, and stay craft or artisanal.”

Needs of the Animals

  There’s also the added responsibility of owning livestock, which includes letting it out to pasture each morning, rounding it up each night, and maintaining fences. Ontario has problems with coyotes and other predators. Lambs are extremely sensitive to copper, so Johnson can’t use elemental copper, an inexpensive organic spray used to protect grapes from mildew, until after the lambs have cleared an area.

  “It’s an animal, so now you’ve introduced animal husbandry to what is normally horticulture,” says Johnson. “Once you have animals on-site, they add another layer of complication. They need to be handled. They need to be protected and looked after.”

  When you own a bird of prey, the demands are especially high.

  There’s a 15-month apprenticeship program to become a licensed falconer in Ontario. There are stringent rules around housing and care, though the requirements differ from those in the U.S. With only 200 licensed falconers in the province, says Engel, it’s easy to support one another and ensure all members are practicing falconry at the highest level.

  “It’s kind of like owning a horse. There’s a real commitment there,” says Engel. “These birds need to be worked and hunted and flown. They’re not just meant to be put on your glove and shown to your friends. You do them a real disservice is you’re not getting them in the air and hunting them on a regular basis.”

B.C. Wine Industry Launches 10-Year Growth Plan

Penticton, British Columbia, Canada – October 26, 2017: Exterior view of Hillside Winery located in the Okanagan Valley on the Naramata Bench in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada.

By: Briana Tomkinson

The wine industry in British Columbia has bloomed over the past 30 years from a handful of grape growers and wine producers to several hundred. As the industry matures, producers are facing new challenges, including shifting consumer preferences and climate change.

  Industry players, including the B.C. Wine Institute, B.C. Wine Grape Council, the B.C. Grapegrowers’ Association, and the B.C. Wine Authority, have responded by coming together to create a unified vision for the wine industry and to support B.C.’s many smaller producers in meeting these challenges.

  According to a long-term strategic plan developed by Artemis Group and O’Donnell Lane for the British Columbia wine industry, the future of B.C.’s relatively young wine industry depends on tourism, export, and brand-building, as well as a strong focus on environmentally sustainable business practices.

  The 10-year plan was released in March at the B.C. Wine Industry Insight Conference in Penticton. Developed over 18 months, it included input from more than 650 industry stakeholders who participated in over 30 meetings in 12 locations throughout the province. The plan was funded by the governments of Canada and British Columbia through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, a federal-provincial-territorial initiative.

  The plan highlights potential threats to the industry, including climate change, crop failure, land value inflation, decreasing talent pool, competition from exports and Canada’s fledgling legal cannabis industry.

  The Wine 2030 plan includes 12 strategic recommendations to strengthen the B.C. wine industry, including committing to industry-wide sustainability standards, promoting wine tourism and links with restaurants and other hospitality partners, and building name recognition for B.C. wines in leading export markets.

  B.C. Wine Institute President and CEO Miles Prodan said that many of the recommendations are in line with initiatives already underway, which he said was a good sign that the industry is on the right track. The plan has been endorsed by the Wine Institute’s board of directors and will influence operations planning going forward.

  “We’ve been doing too much, and spreading ourselves too thin,” Prodan said. “Now that we’ve sat down and identified what we need to do to sustain our growth, we can be more focused. This will rally the industry around the key objectives and strategies.”

  The number of grape wineries in B.C. has ballooned from just 17 in 1990 to more than 280 today. According to Wine B.C., wineries in the province welcome over a million visitors a year to its 370 licensed wineries.

  More than 90% of B.C. vineyards are located in the Okanagan and Similkameen Valleys, which boast ideal growing conditions for grapes: short, hot growing seasons in a dry, desert-like microclimate that is distinct from the rainy, cool coast. The area is known for its extreme temperatures, dipping as low as -4 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

  Other Official wine-growing regions in B.C. include the Fraser Valley, Vancouver Island, Gulf Islands, Thompson Valley, Shuswap, Lillooet, and the Kootenays. Sub-regions include Golden Mile Bench, Okanagan Falls, Naramata Bench and Skaha Bench.

  There are over 900 vineyards in B.C., representing more than 10,260 acres of planted land. The ratio of white to red wine planted is nearly even, with red representing 51% of grapes planted.

  Consumer demand for locally produced wine is strong. B.C. VQA wine is the second-best-selling category in the province, representing about one-fifth of market share. The top-selling category is non-VQA wine produced in B.C., which includes both wine made from local grapes and international blends from imported and domestic wines.

  VQA, or Vintners Quality Alliance, is the official stamp to mark wine that produced with only B.C.-grown grapes. When including B.C.-produced non-VQA blends, B.C. wines represent more than half of the wine sales in the province. When it comes to imports, U.S. wines are the largest segment, at just under 10% of wine sales.

  While local support for B.C. wines is strong, the Wine BC 2030 report notes that future growth depends on exports. More than 90% of the region’s wine production sells within the province. In the next five to ten years, industry players hope to position B.C. wines as a premium product on the international stage. Prodan said another key goal is to lift restrictive interprovincial trade barriers on alcohol to open up new export markets for B.C. wineries within Canada.

  The report identifies that amping up promotion of B.C. as a wine tourism destination is an important tactic to build the brand reputation of B.C. Wines in international markets. According to research from Tourism B.C., inviting visitors to taste wines results in sales more often than not. It estimates well over half of wine tourist visits result in sales for wineries. Other noted benefits included higher margins when wine is purchased directly from the winery, the opportunity to attract new customers and enhance brand loyalty, and also to get detailed customer feedback on products.

  Prodan said that B.C. wine country was already gaining traction as a desirable tourism destination. Many wineries have begun investing in onsite restaurants and accommodations, making the experience an even more memorable one for visitors.

  Sustainability is another crucial area of focus for the industry, and not just for growers. A new sustainability certification program is in development from Sustainable Winegrowing B.C., which is expected to launch next year. SWBC was created by a coalition of viticulturalists, winemakers, hospitality directors, researchers and sustainability and marketing specialists.

  SWBC already offers several free online resources for vineyards, wineries and wine-related hospitality businesses, including online assessments, educational resources and training to help growers protect the health of their vineyards, cut costs and reduce the environmental impact of wine production.

  Because most B.C. wines are produced in desert-like climates, water-use efficiency is an essential component of SWBC’s sustainability education. While the cost of water alone may not be a significant line item on most growers’ balance sheets, SWBC notes that inefficient irrigation can have significant hidden costs, including increased system maintenance, a need for canopy management due to vigorous growth, the need to spray for powdery mildew and other diseases, and additional wear and tear on machinery.

  However, Prodan said the focus on sustainability isn’t just about farming; it extends to every facet of the industry from tourism to trade.

  “Sustainability is not a marketing tactic for us. It’s about taking care of what we’ve got. To be a winery here in B.C., you need to have land. Our wineries are literally tied to the land, so we can’t say if things aren’t good here, we can pull up and go somewhere else,” he said. “We know we have to take care of our land. Without it, we wouldn’t have anything.”

Pillitteri Estates Winery: The Passion Behind The World’s Largest Icewine Producer

By: Adrienne Roman

Globally recognized as the world’s largest estate producer of Icewine, Pillitteri Estates Winery in Niagara-On-The-Lake has provided excellence in viticulture since opening in 1993. Their premium V.Q.A award-winning ice and table wines are widely distributed to local events, businesses, and markets, and are currently being exported to International clientele in 39 countries. 

  The Niagara Peninsula is situated between two of the Great Lakes, Ontario to the North, and Erie to the South. The region is the largest wine producer in Ontario, with primary varietals of Riesling, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Chardonnay, and Vidal. With the protection of the Niagara Escarpment, and the moderating climate of the Lakes, the region’s temperature is similar to prime grape producing regions in France.  The cool climate sub-appellation terroirs allow for the development of diverse root character, complex grape flavours, and a number of new varietals.

  “ We bought a wonderful piece of land, ” said Charles Pillitteri, C.E.O and President of Pillitteri Estates Winery. Pillitteri’s cherished Sicilian heritage remains at the forefront of every aspect of the family business. Working alongside his two sisters, his sharp business acumen is focused on ensuring the winery forges forward for generations to come.

  A single glance of the majestic ten foot tall stainless steel doors leading into the Pillitteri’s press house and cellar reveals the imagination of blacksmith Ken Robertson’s unique vision. Carefully designed linear lines on the ground visually direct the visitor inside where they’re transported on an aesthetic adventure. Both natural and synthetic elements juxtapose together seamlessly to produce a truly imaginative space.  Ceramics, composites, polyurethane and steel tell the elegant story of natural growth, culminating in Robertson’s striking sculpture of the stages of grapes on the vine at the center of the atrium, depicting the flower, to veraison, and finally maturity. Intricately carved vine detail adorns the newel posts of the majestic staircase as you travel downwards and encounter the monolithic, Neo-Norman, and Roman influenced oak barrel cellar.

  Designed by close friend and Niagara architect Frank Wieler, a monumental 500-inch terrazzo top concrete table spans the length of the room, with 23 carved stainless steel chairs cleverly mounted on the adjacent walls representing the number that has significance to the family history. Each chair has it’s own designated position at the table, represented by a smaller carved triangle in the stainless steel denoting where it should be placed among the others. The unique chairs were commissioned by Pillitteri’s parents to tell the symbolic story of the winery.  

  Red wines are separate from the whites in the cellar, where the French and American oak barrels work to increase oxygen interaction, enrich development, and further flavour. The press house is no less impressive, with its large-scale open concept glass viewing station and colossal pressing machines that utilize pulse air technology to set the grapes in motion while ensuring the pressure remains gentle. 

  “Volume isn’t an issue for us, we’re a declassification house and we wait for the next great vintage. We’re all about quality and sustainability, it’s definitely our priority,” said Pillitteri.“ I’ve done a lot of method research and I’ve found that the carbon footprint can be remarkably higher with many types of organic farming. Copper doesn’t break down and can kill the insects that work to help the vines. We need to keep the vines as healthy as possible. “

  Their innovation excellence in grape and wine research was recognized in 2011 with an Ontario Premier’s Award for their work on the Verona Appassimento Project.  The family developed techniques now utilized by other wineries in the production of Appassimento wines. They planted the first Verona varietals in Ontario, and laid the foundation for their Riserva Famiglia series. Grapes produced during the Verona project were used to make their 2010 Riserva Famiglia Cabernet Franc, which won Red Wine of The Year and Gold at the Ontario Wine Awards in 2015. These reserve wines are hand crafted in the classic Appassimento style, as it was previously done for generations in Italy. 

  The chosen grapes are harvested by hand and dry naturally in racks over weeks or even months in order to concentrate the sugars.  “ We follow French rules when it comes to making reserve. I look to classification when choosing quality wines, an intense richness with our cabernet’s, elegant and not too tannic. Our reserve fruit definitely helps our baselines,“ said Pillitteri.

  It all started with one Black Tartarian cherry tree and a flash of entrepreneurial spirit.

  After settling in Niagara-On-The-Lake in 1965, Pillitteri’s parents Gary and Lena recruited their three children to sell the cherries on the roadside of their Niagara Stone Road property.  Their small fruit stand on the farm soon flourished and they opened “Gary’s Fruit Market” in 1973. In 1988 they decided to focus on the grapes, and the Pillitteri Estates Winery was born. The cherry orchard remains, as does their very first muse, that century-old Tartarian tree. Today, the first thing that appears on the fruit stand in the morning when the winery opens is a plump basket of cherries for sale.

  The Pillitteri passion for wine can be traced back to the region of Racalmuto in Sicily, where grandfather and father worked together grafting and tending to the vines. Gary, now 83 years young, remembers the oppression as though it were yesterday. The widespread hunger in Italy in the 1940’s instilled in him a social consciousness as a six-year-old child that brings tears to his eyes as he recounts a poignant story that changed his outlook on life at a very young age. Gary’s father Calogero asked him to give his shoes to another little boy who was barefoot, his first life lesson about the importance of giving to those less fortunate.  Gary has lived his life echoing those same values, working in farming and politics with the hopes of eliminating discrimination and promoting greater equality among his fellow men.  “ My life is a dream,” he said with a smile. Currently building a tree house for his grandchild, there’s definitely no slowing down in sight for this hardy yet hospitable Pillitteri gentleman.

  As official supplier and private label for Team Canada, Tokyo 2020, and the Paris Olympics 2024, the Pillitteri family are honoured to support the Olympic foundation with proceeds from their sales while helping to further expand the rapid growth of the Ontario’s wine industry.

  The true jewel in the crown for the Pillitteri family is their cherished Icewine. With the Niagara climate moving rapidly into colder temperatures after the summer season, it’s perfectly suited for the icewine grapes that like to go hot and cold, picked at just the right time when they are golden and endorphins are at their highest.  It’s been an evolution since their first Icewine developed in 1988, with 13 styles now available.  Pillitteri decided early on that he needed to take an assertive stand in the promotion and showcasing of Canadian wines, setting his sights on the Asian wine market, and making lasting connections in Australia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

  The Pillitteri’s understand that not every season will be what they had hoped. Luckily with a world-famous Reserve Vidal, and a Canadian trophy for Best Dessert Wine with their 2013 Reisling Icewine at the Six Nations Wine Challenge, the winery has the freedom to study, explore, and create. 

With over 1000 awards from top competitions, and 200 000 visitors a year, Pillitteri Estate Winery’s dedication to perfecting the art of making Canadian wine is evident. Each creatively designed wine label tells a story that follows the installations that came before. The Pillitteri logo is a representation of their treasured family Carretto, a hand-painted Sicilian cart, traditionally used to bring wares to the market, and personally brought to Canada in 1952 by Pillitteri’s grandmother.

  Wine bias of the past is waning in favour of a new set of rules, discerning clientele who look for quality and taste, and appreciate the progressive innovation of, “ old world meets new world “ experimentation.

  Pillitteri’s winemaker Aleksandar Kolundzic returns to Europe regularly to explore traditional methods, yet always keeping up to date on the latest practices to bring back to share with the winery.

  The Pillitteri story exemplifies the Canadian dream. With reverence for the past, fierce determination, and three generations of family strength, the Pillitteri’s are moving forward with their expanding collections, presenting Canadian wines to the world that are truly worthy of the award-winning recognition they so deserve.

Chi si volta, e chi si gira, sempre a casa va finire.

No matter where you go or turn, you’ll always end up at home.

For more information contact:

Pillitteri Estates Winery

 1696 Niagara Stone Road




Report Reveals New Taste Trends in Canada

By: Briana Tomkinson

Change may tend to move slowly in the wine world, but new research published this year on Canadian wine trends reveal some important shifts in consumer tastes and spending habits.

According to the London, UK-based Wine Intelligence 2019 Canada Landscapes report, Cana-dians are drinking less but spending more and branching out to explore new tastes and varie-ties from a wider range of wine growing regions.

There’s also increasing crossover between the wine and beer worlds. A growing number of wine drinkers now also report that they choose beer at least occasionally. Craft beer culture, specifically the sense of strongly identifying with locally produced brands, also seems to be influencing consumer attitudes towards wine, with more Canadians now seeking out high-quality domestic wine.

According to COO Richard Halstead, also Wine Intelligencer’s Canadian market expert, Ontar-io’s Niagara region remains the dominant source for Canadian wine. However, the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia is now becoming highly regarded for the quality of its wine and the strength of its vineyard tourism offerings, while Quebec is an emerging presence in the wine world as well.

Of the over 700 wineries listed in the Canadian Wine Directory, almost 300 were in B.C., 200 in Ontario, over 150 in Quebec, with a handful in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island as well.

A 2017 economic impact study commissioned by the Canadian Vintners Association, the Win-ery & Grower Alliance of Ontario, the British Columbia Wine Institute and the Winery Associa-tion of Nova Scotia, the Ontario wine and grape industry generates about $4.4 billion in eco-nomic impact, while in British Columbia it was estimated at $2.8 billion, $1.1 billion in Quebec and $218 million in Nova Scotia. For every $1 spent on Canadian wine sold in Canada, the study estimates $3.42 in GDP is generated across the country.

Halstead said industry analysts are starting to speculate that the same zeitgeist propelling con-sumers to support local farmers’ markets and neighborhood microbreweries may be influenc-ing Canadians’ attitudes on domestic wine.

“We’re a wine research company, so we don’t really look at craft beer except to look at how it’s affecting our world,” Halstead said. “But there are parallels with the connection craft beer has made with local ingredients and making a local product for local people, and that’s seeped into the wine category and made buying local cool again.”

The divide between wine drinkers and beer-drinkers appears to be narrowing in Canada. The proportion of regular wine drinkers who also choose beer, both mass-market and craft, is growing. In 2014, 67% of wine drinkers said they also drank beer, with 29% drinking craft beer, but by 2018, 74% were also quaffing beer, and 40% drank craft beer.

Data released in May by Statistics Canada found beer remained the most popular choice for Canadians, with $9.1 billion in sales and representing 41% of total sales of alcoholic beverages in 2016/2017. However, the market share of other alcoholic beverages, notably wine, contin-ued to grow. Canadians spent $7.2 billion on wine during the same period, a year-over-year increase of 3%, or just over one-third of overall alcohol sales.

Beer, particularly craft beer, has been growing steadily in popularity in recent years. According to Wine Intelligence’s report, from 2014 to 2017, the number of breweries in Canada increased by 115%, mostly driven by a proliferation of microbreweries and regionally focused craft brewers.

Another reason locally produced wine is gaining in popularity is because local liquor boards have been doing more to spotlight local wines.

“The wine world doesn’t move very fast normally, because people’s habits are people’s habits, but the pendulum has swung slightly toward the domestic side,” Halstead said.

Almost three-quarters of English Canadians now say they have selected Canadian wine in the past year, compared to one-third of those in French Canada. While English-speaking Canadians are far more likely to drink Canadian wines, and Quebecers to choose European brands, the report found domestic wines are quickly gaining in popularity in la belle province.

Canadians are now reporting drinking less wine, yet are more willing to splurge on a good bot-tle, Halstead said. Spending on higher priced wine has increased, particularly when the higher price point is linked to a good story, as with many local producers.

The average price per bottle of wine for a relaxing drink at home has increased from $12.79 per bottle in 2014 to $13.44 in 2018, while the average price paid for a bottle selected as a gift for someone increased from $17.36 to $18.81.

“One of the differences today in Canada versus 20 years ago is that if Canadians wanted really nice wine then, it would either be France or the top end of California,” Halstead said. “Now they’ve also got Okanagan wine, which is selling at $40-50 CDN for some cabernets and char-donnays. It’s hitting a very similar market spot that California, or at least the Napa/Sonoma re-gion, used to own without much competition.”

The increase in average cost isn’t only due to consumer preferences, however. Increased regu-lation, taxes, and liquor board policies have made it difficult for many producers to charge less than $10 per bottle. Regional, government-run liquor boards have also been promoting higher-end brands to motivate consumers to spend more on better quality products, in the hopes that this will also encourage citizens to drink less alcohol overall.

“The LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) and SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) have been trying to get people to spend more money and buy less because that fits with govern-ment social policy,” Halstead said. “It’s also good for business because you make more money from one higher-priced bottle than you would two lower-priced bottles.”

Four out of five Canadians surveyed drank wine within the past year, compared to seven in 10 who drank white. The most popular reds were merlot, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, shi-raz/syrah and malbec. White wine drinkers were attracted to chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, pi-not grigio/pinot gris, riesling and moscato. No matter what wines drinkers chose, they pre-ferred wines from California’s Napa Valley, Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula, the B.C. Okanagan, the Bordeaux area of France and Tuscany in Italy.

Consumption of rosé is going up, particularly among regular wine consumers in Quebec. While rosé used to be a seasonal beverage, rosé fans are now enjoying it throughout the year, not only in summer. The drink is particularly popular with young adults aged 19 to 34, women, and savvier wine drinkers.

Sparkling wine is also gaining, albeit from a small base, led by the popularity of Prosecco. The percentage of wine drinkers who consumed sparkling wine in the past year increased from just 12% in 2014 to 19% in 2018. Consumption of locally produced sparkling wine has decreased however, with most consumers choosing imports from France, Spain, and Italy—specifically Prosecco.

Halstead said many American brands are continuing to do well in the Canadian market, par-ticularly mainstream Californian brands like Barefoot, Gallo, Woodbridge and Apothic.

As you’d expect in a country where provincially run liquor boards maintain tight control over wine sales (with the exception of Alberta), three-quarters of wine consumers bought their wine from government-controlled liquor stores. Other notable sales channels (representing from one-fifth to one-quarter of consumers in each case) included grocery stores, wine stores at-tached to grocery stores, private liquor stores or dépanneurs (convenience stores).

Canada Vows to Loosen Federal Barriers to Interprovincial Wine Trade

By: Briana Tomkinson

For almost a century, Canadian wineries have been prevented from shipping their wines direct-ly to customers living in other provinces. After the most recent federal budget announcement earlier this year, however, wine industry leaders say they are cautiously optimistic that Prohibi-tion-era rules restricting trade could soon be relaxed—a move which industry leaders say could be a game-changer for Canada’s many boutique wineries.

In March, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government announced that the 2019 federal budget would remove a requirement that alcohol shipped across provincial borders must be sold or consigned to a provincial liquor authority. According to Canadian Vintners Association presi-dent Dan Paszkowski, if the proposed rule change passes in June, it would remove the last federal barrier to internal trade in alcohol.

The only catch? Provincial governments still have the power to make their own rules regulating the sale and distribution of alcohol within their borders.

The last time the feds relaxed their rules, only a handful of provinces chose to follow suit. In 2012, the federal government relaxed certain restrictions on interprovincial trade that had been in place since 1928, officially allowing Canadians to bring alcohol across borders for personal use. However, Paszkowski said only three provinces—British Columbia, Manitoba and Nova Scotia—chose to update their regulations to allow residents to ship wine to their doorsteps.

In other provinces like Alberta, for example, Paszkowski said citizens can bring in as much wine as they can carry on their person. However, it remains illegal to have even one bottle cou-riered to your home from a winery in B.C. or Ontario. Canadians who flout the rules risk fines, and even jail time in some instances, he said.

“It’s the 21st Century, and yet we’re still restricted from the full use of wine clubs, the internet, and social media because we could only sell to people who reside in the province,” Paszkow-ski said.

Although online ordering from wineries or wine clubs is uncommon, polling has shown that a strong majority of Canadian consumers would like to be able to have wine shipped to their doorsteps. A Gandalf Group poll commissioned by the Canadian Vintners Association in 2017 found 87% of consumers believed Canadians should be allowed to order wine to their home from a winery.

In Canada, the vast majority of wine consumers shop at provincially run liquor stores. In the poll, between 80% and 93% of customers said they bought their wine from a government-mandated liquor outlet. The one provincial exception was Alberta, where only 15% buy from a government-run store, and 80% buy from a privately owned and operated liquor store.

Only 19% of Canadians said they bought wine directly from wineries, though this option was more popular in British Columbia, where 27% said they did so. Only about 2% of customers said they shopped online at a government-run online store, private online store or wine club. Very few consumers, just 9%, were even aware of the option of ordering wine directly from a winery.

Although government-run liquor stores have a virtual monopoly on sales, domestically produ-ced wine has little to no representation on store shelves. In seven out of 10 provinces, Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines—a designation that officially verifies the origin and quality of Ca-nadian-made wine—have less than a 3% market share. In Quebec, the market share for VQA wine is less than one percent at the province’s Société des Alcools du Québec (SAQ) stores. “We don’t even have a category at the SAQ,” Paskowski said.

If the provinces do come on board, the impact on Canadian wineries could be significant. Cur-rently, about four million tourists visit Canada’s 700-plus wineries every year, Paszkowski said. Those who like the wine often want to ship a few bottles home, but under the current regula-tions, wine producers are prevented from doing so.

“Wine is one of the only products in the country where you visit the retailer, and they want it delivered, and you have to say no. You can order a gun from another province, but you can’t order a bottle of wine shipped in another province,” Paszkowski said.

It’s not just sales to tourists that Canadian wineries are missing out on either. According to Sta-tistics Canada, most of the wine sold in Canada, about 74% of reds and almost 60% of whites, is imported from other countries, while Canadian-made wine only represents about 12% of the premium wine market.

“The government’s very interested in the export market, but when you only own 12% of your market, well, we can’t really turn our back on Canada. Our opportunity to export is when our market share is greater,” Paskowski said.

Wine Clubs

Although online wine sales and wine clubs are only 2% of the market in Canada, they are an important sales channel for boutique wineries, especially those whose wines are not stocked in provincially run liquor stores.

Ontario’s Kwäf wine club, for example, has become an important sales channel for many small wineries in the province. Club subscribers receive six sommelier-selected Ontario wines deliv-ered to their homes every three months for $125 to $138 CAD per box. The club ships only to subscribers living in Ontario and the handful of provinces that have relaxed restrictions on in-terprovincial wine trade.

However, according to Director of Business-to-Consumer Operations, Amber Fountain, even if Kwäf could ship anywhere in Canada, the company would still focus on promoting Ontario wines to Ontarians. The foot traffic from wine tourism is a vital spinoff benefit for Kwäf’s winer-ies. Most of its customers are in the greater Toronto area, within easy road trip distance to many of the wineries that supply Kwäf.

“Us sending their wine across the country isn’t really going to help them get people to their door,” Fountain said. “We want people to become fans of our wineries.”

The almost five-year-old company, which was recently acquired by Calgary-based alcohol e-commerce company Blacksquare, has succeeded on the strength of the mutually beneficial partnerships it has cultivated with local wineries, Fountain said.

Kwäf promises customers it will send only “good” wine, so the company’s sommeliers spend a lot of time sourcing and tasting new wines, searching for tastes that are new and exciting. Kwäf makes a special effort to seek out small-scale producers whose wines are not carried by the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) stores, even purchasing the full production of a particular wine to offer as an exclusive release for members.

Partner wineries often include gifts and value-add to encourage subscribers to visit in person, which can help cement a winery’s relationships with their customers. Tasting passes, dis-counts to restaurants, exclusive winery experience tours, and opportunities to meet the wine-makers are important perks of the club. The ultimate goal, Fountain said, is to help cultivate a greater appreciation for local wines, particularly those customers won’t find on liquor store shelves.

“We understand our customers won’t only order wine through us for day-to-day consumption. It’s meant to supplement people’s enjoyment of wine. It’s more for exploration, to try new wines,” Fountain said.

Perhaps one day, the rest of Canada will be able to enjoy exploring new tastes shipped directly to their doorsteps as well.

Dirty Laundry Vineyard: Va Va Voom

By: Adrienne Roman

The Canadian Pacific Railway was built between Eastern Canada and British Columbia in the late 1800s. Thousands of Chinese laborers were contracted to work under extremely dangerous conditions. One of these brave men, Sam Suey, decided to abandon his unrelenting position on the railroad in favor of opening his own Chinese Laundry Service in lower Summerland, B.C.

With the nearby wharf home to an abundance of local freight and passenger traffic from the Okanagan sternwheelers and plenty of folks circulating in dirty clothes, Suey’s enterprise swiftly gained popularity. The downstairs served as a laundromat, while upstairs clients were free to drink, gamble, and as the story goes, enjoy the company of a few scantily clad women. The locals managed to keep the house of ill repute “hush hush.”

Honoring Summerland’s history, Dirty Laundry Vineyard brings an air of intrigue to British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley wine region. With a collection of cheeky names like Dangerous Liaison, Secret Affair, and Bordello, Dirty Laundry’s wines are cloaked in mystery, a pinch of rebellion, and a healthy dash of naughty.

However, there’s no secret when it comes to the quality of the wines they produce. Their Hush Blush is an award-winning blend of Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc. They create the blush using the saignee process. During early fermentation, the Pinot juice is removed, and the Merlot and Cabernet undergo a cold soak to enhance their color before pressing.

Gold medals have been awarded to Dirty Laundry’s Merlot and Au Naturel Gewürztraminer at the National Wine Awards in 2018. Their Reisling won gold at the San Francisco Wine Competition 2017, and their Syrah also brought home gold at the Pacific Rim Wine Competition 2017.  Va va voom.

Woo Woo: Where Wine Is Fun

Dirty Laundry winemaker, Mason Spink, grew up in Victoria, B.C., and completed his honors degree in Oenology and Viticulture at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario. After returning to B.C after college, he worked with See You Later Ranch as assistant winemaker but was quickly promoted to winemaker for seven vintages. Spink joined the team at Dirty Laundry Vineyard in 2013, where he’s thrilled to be producing small lot fermentations where each parcel is handled with care to ensure its finest attributes are expressed in each wine.  The Grapevine Magazine was invited to speak with him about what it’s like to make wine in the Okanagan Valley.

  Grapevine Magazine: What would you like visitors to know about Dirty Laundry Vineyard?

  Mason Spink: Wine should be something that’s enjoyed. You tend to lose the fun with too much sophistication. We want our guests to enjoy themselves, feel completely free to ask questions and drink some excellent wine at the same time.

  GM: Dirty Laundry’s Woo Woo Gewürztraminer has made quite the name for itself. Can you tell us a little more about it?

  MS:  Our Gewürztraminer grapes are Dirty Laundry’s oldest ones and were propagated by the original vineyard owner Edgar Scherzinger in 1978. Prior to that, there was a cherry orchard here.

It’s common to see Vinifera at the top and vine grafting on American rootstock, but all of our Gewürztraminers have their original root systems.  There have been cases of the root pest phylloxera in the valley, but luckily it doesn’t seem to affect us here. We have five different Gewürztraminers, each with their own levels of sweetness. Our Grande Dame Gewürztraminer is made from the oldest vines on site, and our bestseller still remains Woo Woo, which is a middle of the road sweetness, often described as having melon, lychee, and pineapple notes with a subtle hint of ginger spice.

  GM:  Tell us about the Okanagan Valley and British Columbia.

  MS: It’s really stunning. Sometimes it’s easy to get used to all that we have here. I just returned from Chile where it’s an entirely different kind of beauty, but coming home you realize how lucky we are to live here.

It’s truly an incredible place. I love that we have such diversity in grapes. Down south, we find Syrahs in Oliver that are similar to jammy Australian ones, while we have more of the Northern Rhone French style up North.

  G.M: Can you give us a sense of the terroir in Summerland?

  M.S: Dirty Laundry has approximately 100 acres of vineyards, with a new vineyard in Prairie Valley. There are sandy volcanic soils, many on rolling hills and silt-rich slopes. We see a variety of vine direction, north, south, and west facing.  The valley terrain definitely allows for a variety of growing ability.

Traditionally B.C. has always been divided by into four “Designated Viticultural Areas” by the VQA. These include The Okanagan Valley, Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley and Similkameen Valley. The VQA is currently in the midst of changing their Appalachian areas to honor the diversity of the land, adding five or six new sub-Appalachians to reflect the many smaller vineyards on Bottleneck Drive. There’s such a wide range of grape characteristics due to the diverse landscape here.  It’s often an interesting juggling act to get all of our grapes harvested at the same time. We try to control what we can, but in fact, we rely on Mother Nature above all else.

  GM: What does Dirty Laundry’s elevated tasting experience include?

  MS: Our wine shop is a favorite spot, but often people want a more personal experience where they can learn more about our wines and find out how they’re made. Our boardroom overlooks the vineyards and patio, guests can enjoy a cheese and wine pairing, and if they’d like to enhance their experience, they can also take a scenic vineyard tour.

Panoramic Perfection

The second largest wine region in Canada, The Okanagan Valley boasts approximately 4000 hectares of vineyards and produces 90 percent of the wine in British Columbia. Picturesque landscapes run for miles along Okanagan Lake and the communities of Kelowna, Penticton, Naramata, Oliver, Osoyoos, Summerland, and Okanagan Falls.

The dry, warm climate of the southern B.C. interior is the perfect recipe for excellence in viticulture, and the coastal mountain range protects the grapes from any potentially threatening weather. The many lakes running in the valleys control both the heat in the summer and the colder winter air. Moderate moisture combined with consistently strong sunlight allows the grapes to ripen to full maturity, and the night air helps them retain higher acidity. The microclimates in the Okanagan attract vintners from Australia, California, France, New Zealand, and South Africa.

Sassy and Classy

Voted “the cheers of wineries” by Yelp, and “best place to taste wine” by the readers at Okanagan Life Magazine, Dirty Laundry Vineyard is all about the art of creating fun for their guests while helping them develop a better understanding of some of the subtleties of viticulture.

For Spink and the other team members at Dirty Laundry, there’s no reason you can’t educate yourself, have a good time, and enjoy a high-quality experience. Their “where wine is fun” and “time to wine down” attitude is evident around every bold corner. They eliminate the pomp and deliver an unpretentious, colorful, and uniquely engaging experience. Stop in at the winery’s Red Iron Grille for an Italian Forno wood-fired pizza, and unwind with locally made gelato and live music on Friday nights. Beer lovers can indulge in the craft beer selections at The Bottoms Up Saloon. Experience a historic ride on The Kettle Valley Steam Train, built between 1910-1915, where visitors are whisked along the only remaining preserved section of the Kettle Valley Railway, winding their way through picturesque orchards and vast vineyards and stopping to catch breathtaking views of Okanagan Lake. Perched on top of the canyon on Trout Creek Trestle Bridge, 238 feet above the creek, it’s easy to understand why you’ve arrived at the most painterly point in Summerland. Don’t forget to see Dirty Laundry’s General Store and peruse their portfolio of award-winning wines, witty merchandise, clothing, and gifts.

Sassy and classy, Dirty Laundry Vineyard’s vintage charm is sure to please.

  Dirty Laundry Vineyard is located at 7311 Fiske Street, Summerland, B.C. Their tasting room hours are 11:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Sunday.  For more information visit their website

Tariffs, Tariffs, and More Tariffs

By Dan Minutillo, Esq.

Toward the end of this week, take a minute to add up and total the amount of US tariffs imposed on Chinese goods imported into the US. You can glean this data from online aggregated digital news, television news, or from US Government pronouncements about Trump tariffs.

I would be very surprised if the number does not exceed hundreds of billions of US dollars encompassing about half of all Chinese manufactured goods entering the US. The public comment period for most US-China tariffs to be imposed to date ended this past Friday so that such tariffs can be imposed by the US Government and will either be at 25% or 10% depending on the Chinese manufactured product.

China and the US, up to this point, have enjoyed a robust trading partner experience. China is the most active trading partner with the US at about $500 billion of Chinese goods sold to the US last year. These US-China tariffs to be imposed on our most active trading partner are meant to hurt the Chinese economy for alleged unfair trade practices, misappropriating US intellectual property, and generally misbehaving in the world of international trade to the detriment of the US. China has threatened to match and retaliate against the US with equal trade sanctions on US products.


US companies have four (4) primary options to avoid these Trump lead tariffs on imported Chinese goods:

  1. Find a supplier and manufacturer other than China for the goods;
  2. Pay the tariff as the importer of record;
  3. File for a US Customs classification arguing that these tariffs do not apply to its goods imported from China; or
  4. Apply for exclusion from these tariffs.


For context, the exporter of record is the company or individual who is listed on export documentation as the person or entity moving product from country “A” to country “B”. The country of export is the place which the product moved from.

A product could be subject to a US-China tariff even though the product was not exported from China. Products manufactured in China (made in China) are subject to the Trump tariffs even if those products took a circuitous route to reach the shores of the US.

The importer of record is responsible for paying these Trump tariffs on Chinese goods. The importer of record is usually the buyer or distributor of the imported goods, so, 1 through 4 noted above are options for the importer of Chinese goods, that is for the US company importing Chinese goods into the US.

If the US importer decides on option 2, that is to pay the tariff as the importer of record; then it has two primary options:

  1. To absorb the cost of the tariff thereby cutting into profits; or
  2. To increase the price of the product subject to the tariff and pass this increase, either in full or in part, onto its customers thereby risking market share.


How do you determine if a product is subject to Trump’s US-China tariff?

This is where it gets a bit tricky. The “Lists” of products subject to US tariffs on China’s products are categorized by the United States Harmonized Tariff Schedule (USHTS) code system. This system categorizes products by product type and then provides multiple subcategories with further particular specified descriptions. The object is first to find the general product category on the USHTS code schedule and then continue to drill down to subcategories on this schedule until a full description of the subject product is found.

A clear, simple and definite example of a USHTS code is for laptop computers which fit into USHTS 8471.30.01.00 as automatic data processing machines that are portable, with certain weight restrictions. This USHTS code categorization is easy.

However many of the USHTS categories are confusing, to understate. For example, run a web search for “Clocks and Watches US HTS Code” and then compare the HTS data and codes that appear relating to a watch which you own then try to determine the exact US HTS code for that watch. This exercise will give you an idea about how difficult it could be to determine USHTS code and then to determine if a product is covered on one of the US-China tariff lists with high US tariff ramifications based on the USHTS code.

Requesting a Customs Classification

If a company is not sure where their product fits in the USHTS Code classification system, it can submit a description of the subject product with backup data requesting that US Customs provide an HTS classification for that product. US Customs will evaluate the information provided and assign a USHTS Code for that product. The company then merely looks at the USHTS Code table and the applicable US-China tariff lists to determine the applicable tariff amount, if any, for that product.

Requesting an Exclusion

If it appears that the product is subject to the Trump US-China tariff, the US Government has established certain procedures in the event a company believes that its product should be excluded from the US-China tariff. In order to qualify for such exclusion, in addition to following the procedures outlined in the Government’s pronouncements about exclusions, the company must prove that:

  1. The product is only available in China; or
  2. The duties imposed would cause “severe economic harm;” to the company; or
  3. The product is not strategically important to China or related to Chinese industrial programs including, in particular, the Chinese program “Made in China 2025.”

As noted, the US Government has instituted an avenue for clarification of the HTS code for a product and an avenue to request exclusion if a product appears on one of the US-China import tariff lists. Neither avenue might satisfy the company struggling to pay or “pass on” a high US-China tariff to its customers, but at least these avenues provide an opportunity for relief.


Dan has practiced law in Silicon Valley since 1977. The Firm’s practice is limited to regulatory law, government contract law, and international trade law matters. Dan has received the prestigious “Silicon Valley Service Provider of the Year” award as voted by influential attorneys in Silicon Valley.He has represented many very large global companies and he has worked on the massive US Government SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) project as well as FOEKE (worldwide nuclear plant design certification), the Olympic Games, the first Obama town hall worldwide webinar, among other leading worldwide projects.

Dan has lectured to the World Trade Association, has taught law for UCLA, Santa Clara University Law School and their MBA program, lectured to the NPMA at Stanford University, and for the University of Texas School of Law.

Dan has lectured to various National and regional attorney associations about Government contract and international trade law matters. He has provided input to the US Government regarding the structure of regulations relating to encryption (cybersecurity). He has been interviewed about international law by the Washington Post, Reuters and other newspapers.

He is the author of four books unrelated to law, one of which was a best seller for the publisher, and of dozens of legal articles published in periodicals, technical and university journals distributed throughout the world. He serves as an expert witness in United States Federal Court regarding his area of expertise.

MINUTILLO’s e-newsletter and all of its content is provided for information and very general purposes only. It is not intended to provide or offer any specific or general legal advice, or to create an attorney-client relationship. Before acting or relying on any information provided in this e-newsletter, consult an attorney who is an expert in the appropriate field of law.

Copyright © 2018 Minutillo, APLC, All rights reserved.

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Wines of the New World: Peru

By Neal Johnston


The earliest recorded historical evidence of setllements in the countries of the new world, also known as the Americas were attempts at colonisation made by the Europeans in as far back as the tenth century. During long voyages of exploration, Scandanavian ‘Norse’ saiors built the very first settlements of the Americas, in Greenland and Canada. Chrsitopher Columbus expanded on the idea having sailed west when he established a new trade route to reach the far east. He inadvertantly landed in what came to be known to the Europeans as The New World.
Spanish speaking Peru is one of the countries that make up the Americas, or New World, and it is showing great potential to becoming one of the newest and emerging wine producing regions in the global wine market today. Wine makers are keeping their eyes and ears firmly planted on the ground in Peru as they stay on the lookout for available plots of land for new working vineyards. The Peruvian population is estimated at just over thirty one million as recorded in 2015. This includes American Indians, Europeans, Africans and Asians. A heady mixture that has resulted in a wide diversity of expressions in different fields including art, cuisine, literature, and music. A multi ethnic society like this means much greater diversification not only demographically, but both creatively and in terms of cultural influence as well. Building on these combined cultural influences is perhaps in many ways key to understanding and contemplating Peru’s future potential as a diverse, engaged and competitive breeding ground for viticulture on the international stage. Variety is after all the spice of life and this particular melting pot of cultures lends it self towards ingenuity and exploration. Viniculture in 2016 not only in Peru but in many other countries of the New World is becoming more inventive and innovative by the day.

One very beneficial feature Peru shares with another great wine producing country, Chile, is that it is set at the very same high altitude and therefore benefits well from the weather influences of the South Pacific Ocean. Peru’s vineyards are maintained throughout five different regions. The North, Central and South Coasts, the Andean Sierra, and the Selva. There are a grand total of eleven thousand hectares of vineyards throughout Peru, however this number will keep changing as viticulturalists continue to hone in on and explore more ambitiously the future prospects of some of the Central and South Coasts’ best known grape varieties. These include Tacama, Vista Alegre and Ocucaje.

This is good news for the future of wines of the new world and is both refreshing and encouraging, like a breath of fresh air for the industry. The Pacific coastal region of Peru is comprised mainly of desert. This barren and isolated landscape is undulated by a series of valleys flowing down from the Andes Mountains toward the sea. These fertile irrigated areas in valleys can hold cool currents of sea air which means that the balance between the humidity and temperatures can fluctuate significantly daily. This provides good enough weather for perfect growing conditions. The terrain is characterized by the natural diversity of its inner and outer landscapes.

While Peru’s shores are lapped by the Pacific Ocean the Altiplano High plateau sits at an average height of three thousand seven hundred and fifty metres above sea level, and then plunges downwards to meet the deep tropical rainforests of the Amazon. Peru has one of the world’s most complex river systems and it is in the Peruvian highlands that the great Amazon River begins.

Peruvian territory was once home to the ancient cultures from the Norte Chico civilization in Caral, one of the oldest in the world to the Inca Empire, the largest known state in Pre-Columbian America. The Spanish Empire successfully conquered the region in the 16th century. Peru’s independence was formally proclaimed some two hundred years later in 1821. The representative democratic republic of Peru today is divided into twenty five individual regions. This is an evolving country with a higher than average human development index score, and a poverty level of around twenty five percent. Some of its main economic activities include mining, manufacturing, agriculture and fishing.

Peru’s climate lies outside of the southern wine belt, the band of latitude that encircles the southern hemisphere of between thirty and forty five degrees in which quality viniculture is considered practicable. The wine belt theory was posited in an era when some parts of the New World were reliant almost entirely on their domestic consumption alone, with very little financial motivation for change and development. The altitude and maritime influences are not accounted for by the wine belt. More so the wine belt relies entirely on latitudinal information which does not take in to consideration Peru’s coastal plains. Yet it is precisely here that Peruvian viticulture has found a safe haven, between the cooling waters lapping in form the edge of the Pacific Ocean and the Andean peaks as they rise to heights of ten thousand feet or more within just a few miles of the coast itself.

On the coastal plains surrounding the city of Pisco we discover the heartland of Peruvian wine production. Just over one hundred and twenty five miles south of the capital, Lima, Pisco is at the centre of Peru’s Pacific coastline. On either side of this are the towns of Chincha, Ica, Moquegua and Tacna. These are Peru’s viticulture hot spots. Ica is known locally as the land of the sun, an oasis of fertile land on the northern edges of the Atacama Desert where a great abundance of vineyards are separated from barren desert by a matter of just yards. The grape varieties used in Peruvian winemaking are well adapted to warm-climate viticulture. Grenache and red-fleshed Alicante Bouschet are two very popular varieties. Cabernet Sauvignon is also become increasingly more popular along with Bordeaux Malbec, which has proved to be very successful in exports to Argentina. Light-skinned Torrontes is another esteemed white wine variety, which goes under the local name of Torontel.

Along with Sauvignon Blanc and various forms of Muscat these are some of the brands that define Peru at this point in time. These particular grape varieties are well known for their ability to thrive in open warmer climates. ‘Pisco’ is a grape brandy quite like Italy’s Grappa. It also happens to be Peru’s national drink of choice and is heavily contested as being the nation’s favourite beverage in neighbouring Chile as well. The clear grape brandy wine is exported from Peru and it is considerably more successful and popular than the country’s domestic wine to most Peruvians. The famous beverage also benefits from a reliable domestic consumer base.

As Peru’s wine makers are learning more about individual wines they are also gaining further recognition of their products outside of Latin America. Production is completed on a relatively small scale for the most part and Peru would like their finer wines to be able to compete more in the future of the international market. Santiago Queirolo Winery’s Intipalka, is one of few Peruvian wines which is exported to the U.S. Europe and China respectively. Ocucaje is another top producer which has gained wide recognition after it won a silver medal for its esteemed Cabernet Sauvignon at the 2012 Vinalies Internationales in France.

Peru’s winemaking legacy has its origins in the sixteenth century. Following the Spanish conquest Peru was the first South American country in which systematic viticulture, the technical term for the cultivation of the grapevine was actively encouraged. Vines were planted in coastal areas with the majority being placed around Ica, a region just south of Lima. Over the years, pests and politics have reduced the country’s vineyards from 125,000 acres in the nineteenth century, to little more than 2,500 acres by the 1980s. But as Llanos Goyena notes, once economic stability returned to Peru at the turn of the millennium so too did a renewed interest in winemaking.

Peru’s rich and varied cuisine includes a wide range of ingredients including maize, tomatoes, potatoes, avocado, and exotic fruits like the chirimoya, lúcuma and pineapple. A typical Peruvian dish is ‘Ceviche’ which is a combination of fish and shellfish marinated in citrus juices. Another popular dish is Pachamanca which is a combination of meat, tubers and beans cooked slowly to perfection in an enlarged stone oven. Peruvian food can be accompanied by typical drinks like the ‘chicha de jora’.

A unique type of beer made by germinating maize, extracting the malt sugars, boiling the wort, and fermenting it in large vessels, traditionally huge earthenware vats for several days. There are also chichas made from purple corn and peanuts. Since the 1980’s Peru has made a concerted effort at revamping its wine making business and expanding on its development. Productivity in 2016 is placed well within the realms of a country that could soon be in the running for best South American wine exporter.

With the unprecedented level of innovation and experimentation that the global wine industry has been experiencing in recent years the future course for development is looking good not only for Peru but for much of the rest of the new world as well. Hot on the heels of climate change meteorological expert opinion would tend to agree almost unanimously that the great variety of new, unexpected and dramatic shifts in today’s weather will more than likely significantly affect the global wine industry’s future course for development. While further scientific discoveries are being made in accordance with these changes these discoveries will help to pave the way for a better, brighter and even more prosperous future for the wines of the new world.

Ontario’s First Wine in a Can

By Phillip Woolgar


Of all the things we find on the label of a bottle of wine, perhaps most important is the appellation. Getting down to the heart of the matter, the appellation is simply the wine’s address. It’s where the grapes were grown. This simple fact of where grapes were grown gives an oenophile a deep understanding of what’s inside the bottle or can. Yes, the bottle or can!

A can of wine on the store shelf cannot yet be called ubiquitous, but that day may be coming. More wine is found in cans every day. Barokes Wines of Australia claim to have been the first to can wine, inventing their own process in 1996. The Francis Ford Coppola Winery in California released their Sophia Blanc du Blanc in cans in 2004. Now, brothers Greg and Yannick Wertsch, owners of Ontario’s Between the Lines Winery, along with their partners Philip Chae and Lucian Cao, have just introduced their own wine in cans, the first in the region- Origin sparkling wine.

Greg and Yannick were 25 and 22 years old when they started Between the Lines in 2010. They were the youngest wine makers in the area, but between them they had attended wine making school in Germany and Ontario for ten years. They began their winery by renting a building on their parents’ family farm, and finding an investor who paid for tanks, labels, and glassware. The launch was in November 2011.

Early on, the brothers made the kinds of wine everyone knows, wines that originated, were developed, and became famous in other parts of the world. They soon felt disappointed with the results of trying to make a wine in Ontario that was better suited to another region. They decided to go change course. “We wanted to create something that would be “Ontario” for a long time,” explained Greg. Between the Lines’ appellation is 100 percent Niagara Peninsula.

For centuries, wine makers have recognized the influence of place on wine. Where grapes grow, the particular environment contributes to making those grapes unique to that very location. These conditions are often referred to as terroir, and the region as an appellation.

Canada now recognizes eight appellations or wine making regions: Ontario’s three- Lake Erie North Shore, Niagara Peninsula, and Prince Edward County; and Nova Scotia, Okanagan, Similkameen, Naramata Bench, and Vancouver Island.

The Vintners Quality Alliance (VAQ) is the authority on appellations in Ontario. The VQA website ( discusses the importance of appellation. “The physical features of land and climate – the nuances of soil and sun; the minerality and taste characteristics of diverse landscapes – influence the choice of vine cultivars and viticultural practices across Ontario, and create unique conditions for the production of grapes and wine.

As wineries and winemakers cultivate, interpret and elaborate terroir through wine production, they in turn shape our tastes and interaction with the land.” Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula has more acreage devoted to wine than any other viticulture area of Canada. Forty-six varietals are grown on 13,600 acres. The terroir is dominated by fresh water, with the Niagara River to the east, the Welland River to the south, and Lake Ontario to the north. The area’s soil was shaped over 200,000 years by glacial and interglacial events that resulted in thick layers of clay, silt, and sand. The area has a cool climate, with wide shifts of temperature from day to night.
Winds extend the growing season into late fall by bathing vineyards in air that has warmed over the summer-heated lake. In the spring, air that has cooled over the winter-chilled water is blown over the vineyards slowing the warming, and delaying budding until after any late frosts.

This is the Niagara region where Greg and Yannick grew up on the family farm where their dad grew grapes for other vintners. As boys, both Greg and Yannick planned to leave the farm. Gregg enrolled in a few semesters of microbiology, and Yannick did the same with computer science, but their roots reached too deep into the Ontario soil. Sitting at a desk just didn’t satisfy either of them. They quickly realized that wine was their future.
The idea for offering wine in cans was Greg’s. “I studied wine making in Germany. They had sparkling wine in cans. The US has Sophia. There was nothing like it in Ontario.” He didn’t have to convince Yannick. Yannick’s a wine maker. He makes wine. He doesn’t argue about what his wine gets put into.

The process of going from “idea” to actually holding a can of Origin wine this past January took four years. It began with the most obvious question, what wine will we can?

Greg’s choice? “I wanted to use vidal.”
Vidal is a white hybrid that is tough enough to thrive in the cold weather of Canada. Vidal was developed by Frenchman Jean Louis Vidal for use in the production of cognac. The grape is now at home in Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia, and the northeastern United States. It is a primary choice for ice wine, and is so approved by Canada’s Vintner’s Quality Alliance.

As the canning project progressed, it grew. Greg soon found he needed partners. That’s when he called on his partners Lucian and Philip to join him. Lucian and Philip had been students of Greg while he was teaching at Niagara University. They were very enthusiastic about the idea and quickly signed on.

The team next considered the can. What about it?
Canning wine is still so uncommon that the issues, though simple, are not widely known. There are three considerations: don’t touch my wine with metal; keep the gas, lose the air; and don’t make vidal bombs. That is, contain the pressure!

First, aluminum flavored wine? Aluminum cans are now lined with materials that are the latest innovations in science. These new materials have revolutionized the canned beverage industry. Beer and soda cans are also now lined. Canned beer is quickly being recognized (and tasted) as every bit the equal of bottled. Enough canned wine has already been tasted, that wine lovers can be comfortable that this problem is solved. There’s no aluminum in canned wine.

Next, “contains no oxygen”. “We want our sparkling wine drunk as soon as it’s bought,” Greg says. “Origin” is not meant to age in the can. This means that oxygen slowly creeping into the can the way it does through a cork is not a major problem. Still, (no pun intended), sparkling wine is sparkling. You don’t want the sparkle escaping. A sparkling beverage in a leaky container will slowly but steadily become a still beverage. A can of wine is sealed air-tight. Nothing gets in, and nothing gets out.

This sealing is accomplished by a remarkable machine system. At Between the Lines they do the canning themselves. The system first cools the wine which then is poured into a can that has no top at all. The can is filled to overflow so that there is no air in it. The lid is put over the can and sealed. Nothing inside but wine.

What about the pressure? Relax. The can is fine. Between the Lines orders their cans from the Ball Corp. Ball, located in Broomfield, Colorado makes a lot of cans. Their 2014 sales totaled $8.6 billion US. Between the Lines cans were custom designed and tested by Ball. Although Origin is meant to be drunk within days of purchase, the can is designed to hold its contents for a couple of years. Ball also pointed out a happy bonus of canning. Cans are 100 percent recyclable.

Of all the containers used for beverages, the aluminum can is the most recyclable. Arriving at a can that works is just the can’s beginning. Next, there is the very important matter of how it looks. Greg was aware of the “ideas” about canned wine. Many people who love wine are still concerned about the quality of a wine that is distributed the same way soda and cheap beer are. “We needed a can that didn’t look like beer or soda,” Greg remembered.

The Origin can is narrow compared to the typical
beer or soda. It’s relatively tall and thin, much more graceful and elegant than the typical six pack. The colors are also not the typical bright blue, red, or green. The Origin can is white with gold detail. It’s much more in keeping with the image of the wine which is described on the Between the Lines website ( as, “an aromatic sparkling wine crafted with a kiss of Vidal Icewine. Pale gold with aromas of bright stone fruit and citrus, a crisp acidity runs across the palate to give a lingering and refreshing finish. A fine balance of sweetness and perlage, the mouth feel is savoury, soft, and smooth. Tickling the palate with a sweet effervescence of peach, apricot, and honey and a clean citrus finish.” In a can!

In matters of wine, as much as anywhere else, talk is cheap. The test is the taste. The only way to know that canning wine is really working is to open a can and taste it. For that, you’ve got to go to Between the Lines in Ontario, or shop on their website,