Focus on the Grower: Duarte Oliveira

Beamsville grape grower Duarte Oliveira, who operates Oliveira Vineyards with his wife Maria, was recently recognized with the Cuvée Award of Excellence in Viticulture. Considered the Oscars of the Ontario wine industry, the Oliverias’ hands-on approach and attention to detail throughout every stage of the grape growing process were the factors that set them apart from the competition.

The Oliveiras, who opened their vineyards in 1979, sell to a variety of wineries including Norman Hardie Winery, John Howard Cellars, Vineland Estates, and Hillebrand Winery. We recently connected with Duarte to talk about his Cuvée recognition and to get his take on the industry.

Question: Congratulations on your Cuvée award. How did it feel receiving this award?

Answer: It was an honour to be recognized and receive this award. I want to extend special thanks to all individuals involved with the Cuvée Awards and congratulations to all award winners past and present. Our vineyard is nurtured by family and friends who all have a part in accepting this award.

Q: What are the positive spin-offs from receiving this award?

A: On a personal level, receiving this award was quite humbling. And on a professional level, it recognizes the dedication and passion of Niagara grape growers.

Q: What led you to become a grape grower?

A: We used to live in Oakville and both worked in factories, but we always had a dream of owning a vineyard and being grape growers. In 1974, we decided to make that lifestyle change and buy our first farm here in Beamsville. We felt that raising a family on a vineyard would have positive results. After 38 years, we feel we made the right choice.

Q: What is unique about your vineyards?

A: Our vineyard terroir has allowed us to grow several varieties consistently in regards to quality and yield. We grow several varieties including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Vidal, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Marechal Foch.

Q: What makes the perfect grape?

A: The perfect grape is a product of favourable weather and continuous monitoring throughout all growth stages. The ideal weather is warm sunny days and cool nights and, of course, a little rain now and then.

Q: What advice would you give a new grower?

A: I feel a new grower can succeed if their level of commitment is uncompromised, recognizing the strengths of their vineyard and working hand in hand with their winery. I thank all the wineries who purchase our grapes and work with us to produce the best possible product that profiles both the vineyard and the winery philosophy.

Q: What do you think is ahead for the industry?

A: It is an exciting time for the grape and wine industry. We have come a long way in regards to our quality and reputation. It is paramount that both growers and wineries are able to prosper and sustain growth moving forward.

The Grape Growers of Ontario congratulate Duarte and Maria on winning the 2012 Cuvée Award of Excellence in Viticulture.