Despite assurances from Queenston Mile Vineyard that all processing of wine is done on its premises, Ravine Vineyard Estate Winery operator Paul Harber continues to be concerned that the contentious issue is far from settled.
He explains he has not said anything about the winery needing to use all the grapes from their 50-acre property to make wine. An estate winery site, he clarifies, is allowed to sell grapes from their farm and not turn all their grapes into wine.
His issue, as he has said many times to councillors and town planning staff in recent years, is it seems, of the 3,000 cases QMV says they produce each year, that little to no winemaking is happening at the QMV site. Instead it is suspected the bulk of the wine is being made at Creekside Estate Winery in Jordan, Queenston Mile’s sister winery, both owned by Equity Wines.
“It says in the NOTL town bylaws that an estate winery needs to crush all wine on site and ferment all wine on site, and too many people believe this is not happening at QMV. I cannot think of another winery operating like this as an estate winery in NOTL with the licences they have.”
Last week Andrew Howard, president of Equity Wines, told The Local all wine production is done onsite, “full stop,” that they are following all rules, and the Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has
investigated and closed the case.
“To our knowledge,” says Harber, “the AGCO has done a preliminary inspection back in June, and is doing follow-up inspections during this harvest season to see if AGCO regulations are being followed. Our hope is that the town also does an investigation to make sure that this estate winery is following all the rules that other estate wineries are made to follow in NOTL.”
Lord Mayor Betty Disero has also said the matter can’t be settled until production time this fall.
The bylaws are in place to prevent agricultural lands from commercial uses, says Harber, to protect the local wine industry from opportunists, and to set a foundation for businesses and residential communities to best interact with each other.
“If these bylaws don’t work for someone, or
for a business, they can ask for an exemption,”
If bylaws don’t matter, says Harber, or won’t be enforced, “we all should know, and have the same rules to operate our
businesses under in NOTL. We just want a fair playing field for all, and until then, this is not a closed case.”