Award-winning winemaker, Craig McDonald, was the guest speaker at the latest dinner presented by the Canadian Club of Halton on April 19 at the Oakville Conference Centre. The evening included a delicious dinner, followed by the opportunity to hear Craig’s entertaining personal story that started in Red Cliffs, Australia, his progression as a young winemaker with vintages in  Oregon, Australia, New Zealand and Niagara, recognition as Ontario Winemaker of the Year in 2008 at Creekside Winery in Vineland and again in 2016 at Trius Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Two years ago he was named Vice President, Winemaking for Andrew Peller Limited.

While retaining Senior Winemaker responsibilities at Trius, Craig now oversees winemaking activities at all wineries in the Peller family – Peller, Thirty Bench, Trius and Wayne Gretzky in Ontario and Black Hills, Calona, Grey Monk, Red Rooster, Sandhill and Tinhorn Creek in BC.

His extensive experience in the wine industry has enabled him to help create and advise in the making of many of the wines, whiskies and visitor experiences that appeal to all age groups.

Craig highlighted the dramatic results of “Marrying the Art of Winemaking with the Business of Wine”, particularly in the Niagara region, by telling us that Peller Estates Winery is #1 in all of North America with the largest number of visitors annually, followed by Trius Winery in 2nd place, Mondavi in California in 3rd place and Wayne Gretzky Winery & Distillery in 4th place (after being open for just one year).

Joining Craig at the dinner’s head table were Jim & Charlotte Warren. Jim is the founder of Stoney Ridge Winery in the Niagara region and was its award-winning winemaker. He also created and taught the winemaking program at Niagara College for a number of years and continues to consult in the grape and fruit wine industry. His wife Charlotte was the anchor on the retail side of the winery.

Also at the head table was Diane Beaulieu, Executive Director, Halton Women’s Place, to accept a $500 donation cheque from the Canadian Club of Halton. A donation of $500 is made at each of the year’s 7 dinners to an organization chosen by that evening’s speaker.

In place of the normal Canadian Club of Halton thank you gift of Niagara wines to the speaker, Carol and Damian Goriup, owners of Florence Meats in Oakville, donated a sizable gift of some of their signature meat products. Celebrating 40 years in Oakville, Florence Meats was recognized as Mid-Size Business of the Year at this year’s Oakville Awards for Business Excellence.

View photos from event.