Grape Grower of the Year (2009-2010)

Bill Schenck

Location:
Schenck Farms and Greenhouses,
1396 South Service Road, St. Catharines

Age:
51 years old

Family:
Bill is married to Kathleen and has four children.

History:
In 1882 the first member of the Schenck family, Lou Schenck I, at age 20 became a fruit and vegetable grower. He began purchasing land in 1907 where the current farm is located. He would eventually end up with 200 acres, all for fruit and vegetables. The gradual shift away from vegetables to fruit was done in the 1920's and completed by the mid 1950’s. Growing of grapes on the farm dates back for more than 60 years.

Presently the company is managed by Louis IV, Bob, John, John Jr., Joe and Bill all members of the Schenck family. The farm today has stayed much the same in size except the crops have changed to 50% peaches and 50% grapes.

Grape Varieties Planted:
Currently the Schenck family grows 5 varieties: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot, and Pinot Noir. The Schenck family operations grow quality VQA grapes for Vincor.

Farming Philosophy: 
In order to survive in this business today you have to be open to change. As market conditions change you have to be able to react quickly to the needs of the market. The consumer is your boss and you have to provide the product they require at price point in which they are willing to purchase. We work extremely hard to make sure that the product we produce is the best it can be and when it is no longer economically viable to grow, we move on to something else.

Comments on the Wine and Grape Industry:
We are at a crossroads with the grape and wine industry. In order to move the industry foreword changes will need to be made. The time for doing this is now if we want the industry to survive. Many quality grapes will hit the ground this year for many reasons. Some growers will not be able financially, to last another year. The grape industry has gone through many challenges over the years and we seem to be at a low at this point. Strong relationships with all of our business partners will be required to make this a healthy industry once again.