There is more to the wine in your glass or the juice in your cup than the taste, colour and aroma. The hard work of hundreds of Ontario grape growing families make up the quality of what is in your glass.
Meet the Growers
The Spinosa Family
Sally and Rob Peck
Murray and Ann Wilson
Following in his father’s and grandfather’s footsteps, Joe DiProfio is now a third-generation grape grower. Currently tending to 10 acres of vines and managing a retail winery in Jordan Ontario, he is always learning new things about his vineyard.
Guiseppi DiProfio grew wine grapes in Italy before coming to Canada in 1913. Although his son Joe was exposed to the idea of growing grapes and making wine, he never imagined that he would own his own vineyard. That changed when Joe’s youngest son Fred graduated from Brock University’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute with intentions to become a winemaker. Joe decided that a family run winery would be a great way for Fred to use his talents, purchasing a 12-acre abandoned vineyard in 2008 with 10 acres under vine.
Taking over the vineyard was a challenge for Joe, with some vines damaged or missing, and with harsh Canadian winters, repairing and replacing missing vines was at times difficult. However, hard work paid off and Joe now has nine out of ten acres producing quality fruit for use in DiProfio’s premium wines. Being a U-shaped vineyard surrounded by houses and fruit orchards makes DiProfio’s vineyard unique. “Looking out the back window I can see a house about 50 feet away, and a fruit orchard 100 feet away” Joe says.
Admiring grape growers who have been in the industry for more than twenty years, Joe knows that it takes time to develop a vineyard; he is always honing his craft. Being one of the smallest wineries in Niagara allows the opportunity for unique features like becoming a gravity flow winery. Although other wineries in the region use this concept, DiProfio creates the gravity by having the production and retail space within a 36’x36’x36’ cube where grape processing happens on the top floor and the juice flows down to the bottom floor to be fermented and cellared. Most gravity flow wineries use the natural slope present in their land, but as Joe says, “The Creek-Shores sub-appellation is pretty flat; I had to get creative.”
Joe spends his day split between maintaining the vineyard and managing the retail store with his wife. Claiming his biggest challenge as a grape grower is the “pursuit of a healthy crop,” he is always hoping that the weather will cooperate with his plans. Even after the harsh winter of 2013, Joe says that his crops are looking well due to measures such as using wind machines in the vineyard to keep air circulating, and careful trellis management techniques. Growing a diverse crop also helps. “Some crops such as Riesling, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, and Vidal do better on average than Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc,” says DiProfio.