CCOVI grad to lead “Tutored Tastings” Brock alumni event at Toronto food and wine expo


Emma Garner (BSc '04)

Food and wine are driving factors when Emma Garner (BSc ’04) goes to work every day. As winemaker for Thirty Bench Winery, Garner loves that her trade contributes to people’s enjoyment of life.

“I love food and wine and am happy that I can contribute to people’s enjoyment of them,” said Garner. “Life is too short to not enjoy what you are eating and drinking.”

On Saturday, Nov. 19, Garner will be one of four winemakers presenting at a “Tutored Tastings” event at the 17th annual Gourmet Food and Wine Expo in Toronto. The Toronto Brock Alumni Network Committee has purchased 60 of the 75 available tickets and is selling them to Toronto-area Brock alumni at the discounted rate of $30 — a $70 value.

The “Tutored Tastings” event features four talented winemakers who will lead participants through a comparative tasting of eight 2010 vintage Niagara wines. They will also share their insights on how these wines were made and why they taste the way they do. In addition to Garner, featured vintners include Derek Barnett from Lailey Vineyard, Ann Sperling from Southbrook, and Paul Pender from Tawse Winery.

Participants will also have the opportunity to sample right from a 2010 barrel as well as a back vintage wine from the winemakers’ cellars.

“I will be bringing a barrel sample of one of our 2010 Small Lot Bordeaux Reds,” said Garner. “I’ll discuss the winemaking practices that were utilised to make the wine.”

The 2010 vintage is being hailed as one of the greatest ever in Niagara. “The heat was phenomenal and the timely rains provided the vines with much needed moisture,” explained Garner. “There wasn’t the same kind of drought stress that we saw in 2007 so the vines were healthier for it.”

A graduate of Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, Garner was attracted to the field of winemaking for the opportunity to travel. During her studies in the Oenology and Viticulture program, Garner travelled to Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and British Columbia. Her passion for wine and food grew with each trip.

“I chose Brock because it is the only program of its kind in Canada,” said Garner. “It helped to open a world of opportunities for me.”

After working in vineyards and cellars in Niagara, Garner began working at Hillebrand Winery, where she made wine in various capacities until 2005 when she began working alongside Thirty Bench winemaker Natalie Reynolds. In 2010, she garnered the desirable Thirty Bench winemaker position.

For more information on the upcoming Toronto Brock Alumni Network event at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo and to purchase tickets for the “Tutored Tastings — Vintners’ Barrel Tasting of 2010 Niagara Vintages”, visit

Each year the Expo offers 36,000 guests an unparalleled opportunity to sample more than 1,500 fine wines, spirits and beers from around the globe. Visit

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