150 years of history, 17 wineries, 10 collectable bottles, and 1 EPIC passport. A tour of Windsor Essex’s wine country in our nation’s 150th year has much to offer wine enthusiasts and lovers of the outdoors alike. Whether by bike, trolley, or car, visit all 10 EPIC wineries and have your passport stamped for your chance to win a limited edition poster complementing all 10 limited release wine bottles chronicling our region’s wine industry. Holders of the EPIC passport (available online at visitwindsoressex.com/passport) will also have access to $100 in savings and redeemable perks at participating locations. Make it a day-trip and be back at home for the evening news, or stay overnight in a Bed and Breakfast; there are plenty of reasons to celebrate our nation and region!
Once you’ve tasted the wines and met the vintners, make your way to the Chimczuk Museum and discover the history behind the wine in the museum exhibit Toast to the Coast: An EPIC 150 Years. From Vin Villa on Pelee Island, Canada’s first commercially successful vineyard, to the present day, this is a history worth savouring.
Take away today’s modern farming machinery, and what you’d be left with is the farmer. From the vine to the glass, these are the people and families of southern Ontario who toil through extreme heat and cold, day and night, to bring the best of their vines to your table.
|Lost to residential development, the Calcut Vineyards were in the heart of Windsor on Campbell Avenue and sat on more than 10 acres of Catawba and Concord grapes. The head of the family-run vineyard, Ernest Calcut, sold wine by the gallon in ceramic jugs, creating healthy competition with Ernest Girardot’s winery in Sandwich.|
|In a poem by John Keats contemplating joy and sadness, there is the line, “Burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine.” Exceptional wine means crushing exceptional grapes vintners have spent months caring for and tending to, but it’s a small price to pay to bring great wine to even greater friends.||Whether by modern freighters or the wooden barges of yesteryear, the bounty of Windsor Essex has always relied on the Great Lakes to bring our region to the world. The wine in this bottle shares in this heritage, giving you a small taste of a region with big flavour.|
|Before Henry Ford opened his first Canadian factory in Walkerville, Ontario in 1904, it was the farmer and his horse that made this area famous. Whether ploughing through rugged terrain or transporting grapes ready to be made into wine, horses helped turn the wheels of Windsor Essex’s wine industry since 1866, transforming the County into a world-renowned wine region.||Mistaken for the Shah of Persia while visiting Paris in 1909, Ernest Girardot was one of Sandwich Town’s most vibrant residents and mayors. However, it was the Girardot Wine Co. that saw Ernest travelling the globe and making his family name and town world famous. We hope this wine has as much character and personality as Monsieur Girardot.|
|In 1939, Sandwich resident and entrepreneur Jules Robinet had 3000 gallons of wine confiscated by the federal government due to new laws that required wine to be sold in designated stores. Fortunately, Windsor Essex’s wine region continues to thrive to this day. To honour a pioneer of this region’s wine industry, this bottle is dedicated to him.||65 acres. Three men. One island. In 1866, DJ and Thomas Williams with their friend Thaddeus Smith purchased a parcel of land on Pelee Island and called it Vin Villa Winery. These entrepreneurs from Kentucky had no idea they would be the founders of Canada’s commercial wine industry. On our country’s 150th anniversary, taste a part of our heritage that is older than Canada itself.|
|Pelee Island Winery brought the wine industry back to Windsor Essex and revived a part of the island’s heritage that goes back to the 1800s. Wine making technologies and techniques have changed since then, but the dedication and care that characterized Pelee Island wines 100 years ago can still be tasted in each bottle today.||
After tasting Pelee Island Winery’s St. Augustine sacramental wine in 1929, the Anglican Bishop of Montreal, John Farthing, declared, “I know of no other wine equal to it for sacramental purposes.” 88 years later, the vineyards of Windsor Essex produce wine for every occasion and with the same care that made John Farthing an avid fan back in 1929.
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