Quality Ontario Wines Available at Local Farmers’ Markets

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Harvesting at Pillitteri Winery in Niagara On the Lake. Photo: Supplied

Harvesting at Pillitteri Winery in Niagara On the Lake. Photo: Supplied

By Karen Graham

Those of you who braved the pouring rain which soaked last month’s Farmers’ Market may have been surprised to see a booth offering wine for sale. This is a recent event and part of the loosening of the rules surrounding alcohol sales in the province. It began as a first-of-its kind pilot project last summer, allowing VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wines to be sold at farmers’ markets as part of the province’s strategy to increase awareness of the good things that are grown, made and harvested in Ontario. Since its launch in 2014, 78 wineries and 172 farmers’ markets across the province have participated in the pilot program. In order to qualify for the program, the wines must be made exclusively from Ontario grown grapes with no additions of water or concentrates.  These wines pass through rigorous winemaking tests including laboratory analysis and evaluation by an expert taste panel before earning the VQA symbol displayed on the label.  This new wine distribution project is managed by the province’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario to ensure that wine sales are conducted in a socially responsible manner.

The wines available at the Millbrook Farmers’ Market are produced by Pillitteri Estates Winery of Niagara on the Lake.  It is a family business established by the Pillitteri family of Sicily after relocating to Ontario at the end of the war.  The farm was established in 1965 by son Gary and his wife Lena as a small fruit and vegetable farm which still operates today…

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