2011 Grape King Announcement

Release Date: 
Tuesday, September 13, 2011

St. Catharines, ON (Tuesday, September 13, 2011): RBC Royal Bank, Grape Growers of Ontario and the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival are pleased to announce that Ed Hughes of Hughes Vineyards in Beamsville has been named the 2011 Grape King.

"RBC is proud of the long-standing relationship we have with the grape and wine industry and with the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. It is an honour for us to announce Ed Hughes as the 2011 Grape King," says Doug Bugler, RBC Regional Vice President.

Grape Growers of Ontario Chair, Bill George Jr. says, “We are thrilled to have Ed serve as the 2011 Grape King and act as an ambassador for grape growers and grape growing in Ontario. Ed is a dedicated grower who is concerned with the sustainability of Ontario’s vineyards and has implemented several bio-controls at his Beamsville operation.”

“The Niagara Grape and Wine Festival is delighted that an individual with Ed Hughes’ passion is being honoured as the 2011 Grape King. To recognize an individual whose approach to grape growing embraces sustainable and eco-friendly practices is to be celebrated. Ed is truly a custodian of future grape growing in Niagara. ” says Kimberly Hundertmark, Executive Director of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.

“The Grape King represents grape growing excellence throughout Ontario. Ed’s involvement in industry research and his innovation in the vineyard makes him a great ambassador for grape growers across the province,” says Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario.

Ed Hughes interest in grape growing begin in the early 1990’s when, as a cook at the Four Seasons Inn on the Park, he attended a Sommelier course to study food and wine affiliations. In 1993 Ed purchased a 3-acre farm in Beamsville and began growing grapes there in 1995. In 1999, Ed expanded his operation by purchasing a well-established 21-acre vineyard that was planted with a combination of hybrid and concord grapes. Today Ed farms over 20-acres of VQA premium quality vinifera grapes. He sells exclusively to Malivoire Wine Co. in Beamsville and has also developed a business selling high quality grapes to amateur wine makers and a number of wine clubs in Southern Ontario.

As Ed’s interest in viticulture continued to grow, he enrolled in Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute program to learn how to improve the grape quality in his vineyard, with the hopes of starting a small family winery. Over the last 10 years, Ed has started to implement bio-controls in his vineyard and has investigated new ways to improve the sustainability of the vineyard, including developing a more natural ecosystem and experimenting with high density planting. In 2010, Ed was awarded the Premier’s Award for Agri-Food Innovation Excellence for his innovative work in the vineyard. Ed lives with his wife, Caroline, and their two children in Beamsville, Ontario.

Ed will be officially installed as the 2011 Grape King at Malivoire Wine Co. on Wednesday September 14, 2011, at 3:00 pm. Please click here for invitation and map.

The Grape Growers of Ontario is the official organization that represents over 500 registered grower members of nearly 17.1 million vines on 15,000 acres in the province’s four viticulture areas: Niagara Peninsula, Pelee Island, Lake Erie North Shore and Prince Edward County.

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For more information, please contact Debbie Zimmerman, 905-401-2471