The Grape King represents a 66-year tradition in Ontario’s grape and wine industry that dates back to 1956. The title of Grape King, or Grape Grower of the Year, is bestowed upon an Ontario grape grower who exemplifies excellence in the vineyard.
Nominees for Grape King must have a working knowledge of vineyard management and the grape growing industry. Nominated vineyards are judged by industry experts from the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, and the University of Guelph. They are rated on a point system based on the following criteria: Cultivars, Diseases, Insects, Weed Control, Soil Management, Canopy Management, Overall Quality of Vineyard, Outreach, and Miscellaneous.
The Grape King is an ambassador and an advocate for all grape growers across Ontario as the grape and wine industry continues to move forward.
Chris Van de Laar
List of previous Grape Kings
The Grape Growers of Ontario and Farm Credit Canada are pleased to announce that John Fedorkow of Fruithaven Farms in St. David’s was crowned the 2019 Grape King on September 18, 2019.
John Fedorkow is the first King in our organization’s history to hold the title for three consecutive terms. First selected as Grape King in 2019, John had limited opportunities to fully experience the role due to COVID-19 pandemic and the pause in industry activities. John graciously accepted the Board’s request to extent his tenure as Grape King.
John Fedorkow was born and raised on a mixed tender fruit farm in St. David’s, and graduated from the University of Guelph in 1980 with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture.
John briefly left the area to sell pesticide for four years; two in Alberta and two back in Ontario. But following his desire to return to Niagara, he purchased Fruithaven Farms in 1984, not far from where he grew up. The farm was planted with Labrusca grapes which were removed and replaced with tender fruit and berries, including strawberries, raspberries, apples, cling peaches, pears, and plums. A Pick-Your-Own operation that gave school tours in the fall was developed.
After removing the apples in 1999, John began planting wine grapes and underwent a major expansion into grapes in 2008 after the canning factory closure. John is currently growing 75 acres of vinifera grapes for Peller Estates and Creekside Estate Winery, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, and Semillon.
A current member of the Grape Growers of Ontario’s Growers’ Committee and the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Agricultural Sub Committee, John is also the past president of the Niagara Peninsula Fruit and Vegetable Growers’ Association (NPF&VGA), past Vineland Growers director, and past member of the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Irrigation Committee.
John is married to Debbie and they have three children: Michael, Alex and Camille. Alex passed away on September 22, 2007 of an undiagnosed heart condition, Michael is a police officer with the Niagara Regional Police, and Camille is a registered nurse in the Hamilton General CCU.