Learn about local history, including the history of wine, at an event that includes a gourmet dinner with a spectacular view of vineyards, a silent auction, and a show of firepower from Fort George.
The event, History in the Vineyard, is being held in the new conference centre at Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery in St. Davids, which has been designed and constructed with huge, floor-to-ceiling windows to take advantage of the view.
Scott Finlay of Parks Canada is tasked with speaking about the history of wine, and says in his research he has discovered it goes back to Eastern Europe, 8000 BC.
“Wine, like beer, might have been someone’s mistake, as simple as two guys sitting around and saying, ‘I dare you,’ says Finlay.
Topography and climate have a lot to do with how it developed, and in Niagara, can be found mentioned in Lady Simcoe’s diary, made from peaches grown locally.
Officers stationed in Niagara would also have enjoyed imported wine, likely shipped from Spain, Finlay said.
Laws were passed to ensure social responsibility — there was prohibition in Upper Canada for a time in the 1860s, although it didn’t last as long as prohibition in areas of the U.S., which led to “running across the river” with alcoholic substances.
The development of the local wine industry to present day, “with all its nuances,” is an interesting story, says Finlay, and one he is happy to be telling at the event, a fundraising partnership between the Niagara Historical Society & Museum, the Friends of Fort George, and Ravine.
“This is a unique fundraiser to benefit two strong charities in Niagara-on-the-Lake that work hard to preserve our history,” says Friends president Tony Chisholm, with “a special thank you to Paul Harber (of Ravine Vineyard) whose generosity has made this event possible.”
In addition to Finlay speaking about the history of wine, topics for the featured talks include: The Neutral Confederacy, by Ron Dale; Megan Gilchrist talking about Bank Robberies in St. Davids; The Railway & Heritage Trail by Rick Meloen; the History of Ravine by Paul Harber; and WWI: Surviving the Trenches, presented by Ashley Creed and Peter Martin.
Chisholm explains dinner guests may pick the subjects they wish to listen to, with speakers stationed in different areas of the winery, or may simply enjoy cocktails before dinner.
“We are very excited to be working with these organizations in highlighting different aspects of Niagara’s early history at this special event,” says Amy Klassen of the Niagara Historical Society & Museum.
Tickets are on sale through the Niagara Historical Society and The Friends of Fort George Gift Shop. Tickets are $120 each, with a portion being eligible for a tax receipt.
For an evening in the vineyards, Nov. 28, with food, wine, history and merriment, call The Friends of Fort George at 905-468-6621 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or the Niagara Historical Society, 905-468-3912 or email@example.com.