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Second Round

Golf star Mike Weir unveils new wine partners

Canadian golfer turned vintner Mike Weir has partnered with Château des Charmes Wines and the Niagara Parks Commission for the next phase of his wine venture. The ambitious plans, which include the construction of a winery and hospitality centre in Niagara Falls, seal the PGA Tour star’s commitment to Canadian wine industry.

The new arrangement will see Château des Charmes produce and bottle Niagara wines for the Mike Weir Wine label. Paul Bosc Sr., founder of Château des Charmes and Canadian winemaking pioneer, will oversee winemaking.

The projected 30,000-case production from the 2008 vintage will centre around Chardonnay, Cabernet-Merlot and Pinot Noir, with grapes coming from the Bosc family’s 270 acres of estate vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Bottles produced at Château des Charmes will be released in January.

“Our goals for the future of the Mike Weir Wine were to continually build on the quality of the wine, grow our production and maintain the winery’s strong ties to Niagara,” said Weir.

Since the debut of Weir wines in April 2005, the brand has grown from 5,000 cases sold strictly in Ontario to 30,000 cases with availability across Canada. Proceeds from sales support the Mike Weir Foundation, a charity to help children in physical, emotional or educational need.

The new winery will be located on a 15-acre parcel of land beside the Whirlpool Golf Course operated by the Niagara Parks Commission. The course’s 13th hole will be the boundary with the new development. Construction is slated to begin in summer.

Weir, who spent summers in Niagara Falls as a child, says the move is something of a homecoming. “It’s kind of my old stomping grounds away from Sarnia,” he explained during the announcement at Château des Charmes in November.

The site places the winery directly on the heavily travelled Niagara Parkway, overlooking the Niagara Whirlpool and Gorge. Plans call for a visitor and hospitality centre including a retail boutique and a gallery to house Weir memorabilia as well as experimental vineyards and on-site processing equipment.

Provincial regulations in Ontario require wineries with retail operations to tend to at least five acres of vineyards. Few vines are planted in Niagara Falls as the area is more prone to colder temperatures and frosts that can damage European grape varieties such as Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir.

Weir’s first foray into wine was a partnership with Peter Jensen and Laura McCain-Jensen, who own Creekside Estate Winery. The Weir wines produced by Craig McDonald and Rob Power at Creekside earned top awards over the years. That arrangement was dissolved in June 2008. weirwines.com

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