The wine is finally flowing at Eastern Ontarioís first grape winery. Waupoos Estates Winery in Prince Edward County officially opens its doors to the public June 16.
For Ed Neuser and his partner Rita Kaimins the opening marks the end of many months of hard work and the beginning of a whole new set of challenges. "Iím very excited but Iím also a bit nervous," said Neuser, a week or so ahead of opening day. "This is a first in this area for all of us here."
The winery sits a few hundred feet from the Lake Ontario shoreline in the tiny community of Waupoos. Neighbors, many of whom are successful apple growers, have watched as construction of the main building intensified over the winter months. Neuser made every effort to ensure the winery blended with the countyís charming architecture, bringing in truckloads of limestone from a quarry near Kingston. His close attention to detail is evident in the finished structure.
Local politicians say theyíre thrilled to see the winery become a reality. They say its opening puts the county on the map as Ontarioís latest winemaking region. "We think itís great because it will bring more people to the area," said George Beer, chairman of economic development and a councillor in neighbouring Quinte region.
"The winery will bring another type of tourism to the Quinte area ... it will lead to all kinds of economic benefits."
Beerís sentiments are shared by Jim Taylor, mayor of Prince Edward County. Taylor praises Neuser for creating such an exciting destination for tourists. He also says the winery brings the county one step closer to being recognized for its wine industry. "Itís amazing how itís catching on," says Taylor, adding that other growers are currently planting hundreds of grapes at various sites around the county. He notes thereís also been a lot of interest in a new winemaking program offered at Bellevilleís Loyalist College
Because the winery is a first for the region, itís making news in other political circles as well. "Weíre always pleased to see another successful venture in our agri-tourism industry," said Brian Coburn, provincial minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs. "The winery is a welcome addition to a county which has shown leadership in the area of agri-tourism."
Waupoos Estates Winery offers between five and seven different varieties of reds, whites and rosťs. Bottles of wine and an assortment of wine-related items can be purchased on site. Neuser says a small fee will be charged for wine tastings and tours of the facility and surrounding vineyard.