Ontario wine promoters recognized with VQA awards


Winners of the 2014 VQA Promoters Awards (from left): Shawn McCormick, William Mancini, David Lawrason and Lloyd Schmidt. Erik Peacock was absent from the photo.

Six of the wine industry’s top promoters were recognized last weekend at Brock University for their contributions in the promotion of VQA wine.

The VQA Promoters Awards were announced Saturday, March 1 at the Experts Tasting hosted by Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

The awards acknowledge individuals who celebrate the Ontario VQA wine industry with unselfish enthusiasm, constructive input and unsolicited promotion.

Shawn McCormick’s passion to promote Ontario wine started in an unlikely place.

After one too many wrong turns down country roads in Prince Edward County looking for local wineries, McCormick decided that there was a need to create and develop an app that guides users through Ontario wine country.

The free Uncork Ontario app he developed has now been downloaded over 2,000 times and is just one of the reasons McCormick was recognized with this year’s promoter-at-large award.

Wine writer David Lawrason, this year’s recipient in the media category, took the opportunity to share his pride in what was happening in the Canadian wine industry at the award ceremony.

“We are really onto something here in Canada,” Lawrason said. “If I do nothing else, I want to get everyone on that same page to know that we have to go out into the world now, as a country working together, to do whatever it takes to present one clear message that we are all about quality wines.”

The 2014 winners in each category are:

* Hospitality: Erik Peacock, chef, Wellington Court restaurant
Peacock was recognized for his work promoting VQA wines on his menu at Wellington Court along with the time he has donated at many wine festivals and events.

* Media: David Lawrason, wine writer
Lawrason has been a wine writer, educator and judge since 1986. He is a founding partner of WineAlign.com, which owns the National Wine Awards that launched last year in British Columbia. Lawrason is a former wine columnist for The Globe and Mail, and currently writes for Toronto Life and Ottawa Magazine.

* LCBO: William Mancini, LCBO product consultant at the Toronto Kingsway store
Mancini was recognized for the work he does promoting Ontario wine, which has resulted in his store being the number-one seller of Ontario wine at the LCBO.

* LCBO: David Churchill, awarded posthumously
Churchill dedicated his life to learning about and promoting Ontario wine through various roles at the LCBO, including working as the writer and researcher of Vintages magazine. Churchill passed away April 5, 2013. His wife Rose accepted the award in his memory.

* Promoter-at-Large: Shawn McCormick, uncorkOntario.com
McCormick was honoured for his work creating the Uncork Ontario app as well as the creation of the Great Canadian Wine Challenge (#TGCWC), and for starting and hosting the weekly Ontario wine chat on Twitter (#ONWineChat).

* Lifetime achievement: Lloyd Schmidt, viticulturist
Schmidt was recognized for his dedication to the advancement of the domestic wine industry in both British Columbia and Ontario. He worked as a viticulturist and consultant.

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