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
Where do you see yourself at age 94?
Beamsville grape grower Warren Saunders, who recently celebrated his 94th birthday, wouldn’t dream of doing anything else than growing grapes. And the best grapes at that!
Warren has been growing grapes since the 1960s and has seen technology transform the farming industry. He has also witnessed changes toward higher-quality wines and standards that help him compete more globally. Regardless of these changes, Warren still prefers the good old ways and techniques like hand-picking.
Warren’s love for viticulture began at age 12 when he would pick raspberries with his parents in Hamilton. In his late teens, he worked at a local farm when they needed help, and by the time he was 21, he was working for Stelco. That job lasted 42 years, allowing Warren and his wife Ivy to buy some land in 1965 near Beamsville, in the Niagara Peninsula. Shortly after purchasing the farm, Warren and Ivy started their own family and were growing both fruit trees and grapes, eventually switching primarily to grapes and planting French hybrids and vinifera. Today, as a family-run certified organic vineyard, son Leslie and daughter Ann-Marie raise Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Merlot for small-batch, premium quality wines.
Warren learned the most by spending time at the Vineland Research Station, talking to other farmers. He says the generosity of fellow farmers in sharing information is something you can always count on. He believes this life is not for everyone. “People romanticize owning a vineyard, but it’s also really hard work,” he says.
Warren attributes his longevity to a healthy diet and staying active. Working in the vineyard not only keeps him engaged and happy, but it’s also his secret to a long life, keeping him alive and kicking!