Educational wine tasting raises funds for local charity

When oenology and viticulture (OEVI) student Paul van der Merwe was given the opportunity to share some wines from his family’s collection with his classmates, he wanted to ensure that it was a memorable experience that benefited a good cause.

van der Merwe (right) presents Red Roof Retreat’s executive director Steffanie Bjorgan (left) with the money raised from the Osoyoos Larose wine tasting.

van der Merwe (right) presents Red Roof Retreat’s executive director Steffanie Bjorgan (left) with the money raised from the Osoyoos Larose wine tasting.

That’s why he organized a vertical tasting of wine from Osoyoos Larose winery. The sold-out tasting held at Brock raised $840 for Red Roof Retreat — a Niagara-on-the-Lake facility that provides respite and recreational programs for children with special needs.

The event provided OEVI students and local wine enthusiasts the opportunity to learn more about wine from British Columbia. To help arrange the details of the tasting, Van der Merwe approached Barb Tatarnic, manager of outreach and continuing education, at the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

“I’m really fortunate to be a part of such a great program with such dedicated students and such supporting staff and faculty,” van der Merwe said.

The tasting was led by Constellation Brands Eugene Mlynczyk who has significant experience with Osoyoos Larose wines and as a wine education instructor. At the end of the tasting, participants were led through a blending exercise learning how each component adds to the final blend of a wine. Participants then competed in a challenge to test their own ability to blend wine.

Van der Merwe said he was extremely happy with how the tasting went, and already has plans in the works for another tasting next year to raise additional funds for Red Roof Retreat.


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