Local winemaker says event boosts profile of product made on PEI
© Guardian photo by Cassandra Bernard
Award-winning Prince Edward Island wines were showcased at the 2012 Festival of Wines in this Guardian file photo
The owner of a winery in Gladstone is looking forward to the exposure he'll get at the New Festival of Wines Grand Tastings today and Saturday at the Charlottetown Civic Centre.
A young entrepreneur at 31, Mike Newman will showcase his wares along with more than 200 limited quantity wines from around the world, including those from France, this year's feature country, and the award winners at the third annual wine festival.
"I really like the show with regards to the fact that wineries are just emerging (on P.E.I.) and it's a great opportunity for us to showcase how we're progressing along,'' Newman said in an interview on Thursday.
Newman owns and operates Newman Estate Winery in Gladstone (near Murray Harbour) and joins Matos Winery & Vineyards in St. Catherines and Rossignol Estate Winery just east of Wood Islands as the big local players.
Now produced by Versatile Management Group, the New Festival of Wines has been redesigned to 'wine and dine' visitors with new and local flavours. COWS Creamery and Dairy Farmers of Canada will be set up with cheese stations to complement wine selections. The Friday Grand Tasting will feature appetizer-style food stations created by chef Andrew Smith. Saturday's Grand Tasting will feature the culinary talents of chef Jane Crawford. Wine and cheese seminars will be offered during the afternoon by the Dairy Farmers and Rossignol to help guests perfect the art of wine and cheese pairing.
Newman said he sold 12,000 bottles of his wine in a span of six months last year and, with the help of the wine festival, hopes to sell more than 30,000 this year.
Newman said local wineries are really making a real impact in the marketplace now.
"It was a bit stagnant for a little bit, given that it was just Rossignol (before) but I think you've seen over the last two years, exponential growth. Myself and Matos have just catapulted onto the scene and had very strong sales last year. This year, I'm looking to triple sales. I think (local wine makers) are becoming an option.
"We're definitely going places and that's what's exciting. It's a growing industry. I think we've proven the last few years that we can be competitive with the quality. Now, it's just a matter of getting the name out there. I think that's where stuff like the wine festival really helps us.''
The award winners will be among the variety of wines available for purchase during the festival at the on-site wine boutique. Tickets are not required to enter the boutique and customers are welcome to shop at the Civic Centre today from 4 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. and on Saturday from 3 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Festival tickets are $44 (taxes included) for each night and are available online at www.peiwinefest.com or at the Civic Centre box office at 629-6625.
Grand tastings will be held in the Trade Centre from 7 p.ml. to 10 p.m.
Tracey Singleton, event manager, said complimentary shuttle transportation will be provided from 6-11 p.m. between the Civic Centre parking lot and a variety of stops in downtown Charlottetown.
Festival admittance is restricted to those 19 years of age and older.