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Idle Thoughts Tha Could Get Me In Trouble

May 4, 2011

For the last3 days I have had the privilege to spend 3 days on business in Trenton. While there, I managed to get to Prince Edward County, see the new lickbo and basically do recon.

As my old history teacher would say: lets compare and contrast Prince Edward County (PEC) with Essex County (LENS).

Marketing: PEC has a wonderful marketing machine. They seem to have presented an island of restaurants, galleries, cheese makers, breweries, and wineries. Well yes and no. There are alot of wineries, 2 cheese-makers I believe, restaurants in Picton, breweries and cideries and of course alot of wineries.
LENS has virtually no marketing plan. There are great golf courses, restaurants (tho not quite as trendy as the PEC ones I saw), 1 cheese-maker who makes great cheese but Italian style not runny French.

WINNER:PEC hands down…LENS really needs to get their act together and decide that they want to sell wine.

Key Town: PEC has Picton which is at the east end of the island but the best wineries are at the west end. It seems very nice and there is money there. As there is no other town, this town of 4k has alot there for the size.
LENS has no anchor town. Amherstburg and Kingsville are the naturals. I like both, but A’burg is too far away from the wineries and Kingsville is kinda close. It has good restaurants and getting shops. A’burg has more shops but not as many restaurants….I will give the nod to Kingsville as they have a winery.

WINNER: LENS…each candidate has close wineries and I like Kingsville

Access to wineries: PEC has alot of maps but is really rural. Its tough to find the wineries and most are off the major roads. I find the signage poor, but its fun to go down the 1 lane roads. My car was covered in mud as it was raining this time.
LENS is much easier to get around in and all the roads are paved. Signage is good.

WINNER: LENS…lacks the quaint county roads but its alot easier to get around

Wine: PEC makes some exceptional wine. Minerality is the key here. There is the ugly rumour that implies they grow no grapes there. Yes there are alot of VQA Ontario wines and they don’t like to talk about it BUT the good wineries grow their own grapes. Look to Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Cab Franc. I have been told that Riesling doesn’t like it there (I cannot fathom why it should be perfect) and Cab Sauv’s and Merlot’s should be treated with apprehension. Once you have the Pinot from Trumpour’s Mill, you will get the mineral spirit of the wine. The wines from PEC grapes have character.
LENS has the advantage of growing almost anything and I think the wineries are still finding their way. Cabs, Syrahs, Chards, Pinots,Rieslings and others all do it here. They lack the “character” of the PEC wines but offer more options. There is also the lack of “rumours”, but check out the VQA Ontario wines made here.

WINNER: LENS….the variety of wines in LENS makes the difference. PEC make great wines ( I love Trumpour’s Mill) but the minerality isn’t for everyone and the am’t of imported grapes bother me. I was treated like I insulted one winery when I wanted only wines made from local grapes.

So why are they killing LENS?

1) proximity to Toronto
a) money is really moving in
b) Toronto media who are to lazy to go to LENS, but love PEC
2) marketing. They got it right. LENS may actually have more “stuff” but they make it appear that they got more
3) money…just look at some of the wineries, the are beautiful but I like places who make wine, not buildings….I was sent to the little bldgs, great wine by a great winery..so I may be mean here
4) Organization…they have their act together and well LENS is a mess. They need to get on the same page and work together

What can be done?

1) market the area. Artists, cheese-maker, artisanal meats and foods exists. Yes there are good restaurants. This isn’t being don and GOLF COURSES for non wine spouses….not all of us like wine
2) get together and have LENS represented at ALL FOOD AND WINE SHOWS. The representation at the London show was wonderful. I realize that the costs of going further afield would be high BUT representation of the LENS wineries could be done on a co-operative manner where all wines are shown at a common nice booth. GET the word out.
3) Own our back yard. To go to the soccer world: Fenerbace greets competitors with “Welcome To Hell”. They know they have to own their backyard. How can LENS be a force when locals do not drink it? Forget harping on lickbo, they don’t and will not care. Just look to the abuses written in the Ontario Wine Review back issues. The government does not care, and will not care until the lickbo is privatized. The wine is good, but nobody in Windsor seems to know/buy it. Yes at the Wine fest which is just Epicure on grass, but when else.
4) Combine the wine with local food. Make a distinct local cuisine…..we have great local meats, fish, produce and fruit, yet we don’t feature it. We need to push local with local food.

In finality, I hope both regions thrive. PEC has their “issues” due to the terroir (they are really far north) but the are doing quite well. They are a destination and I give them praise for it. I love the PEC wines and will get alot more from the friends of my new fav winery up there. I just hope that LENS can get it’s collective head together and grow. I know they will as most are good friends of mine and I know the talent and quality levels are there.

tootles

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