|Posted on May 21, 2013 at 8:05 AM|
It is hard to believe that we have made it to the end of the series but here we are. It barely feels like it has been twelve weeks since I started writing this series but it has been, and it has been a lot of fun in the process. Today we look at Keith Tyers from Closson Chase Vineyards. Originally he started his career with the winery as the assistant to winemaker Deborah Paskus but after a brief stint away from the winery he returned to become their retail sales manager also in charge of Licensee sales for Eastern Canada. He is basically in charge of organizing the retail space at the winery, planning both in store and outside promotions, LCBO releases and all sales in the eastern provinces of Canada. His background as Deborah's assistant as well as his even earlier background as a sommelier in restaurants makes him a perfect fit for interacting with other restaurants these days and it is a role he is able to expand upon daily.
It was a desire to learn a new aspect of the hospitality industry that made Keith make the change from restaurants to working at a winery. As much as he enjoys working as a sommelier and interacting with people enjoying their meals in a restaurant, he was looking for a change and making the move to Closson Chase Vineyard was the opportunity to do this. He had tasted some of Deborah's wines in the past, really enjoyed them, and since he lived not too far from the winery itself it was easy to make the transition to this great team. Keith has a real passion for Prince Edward County and this is something that comes shining through when you are having a conversation with him. In his own words, "It is breathtaking! It is a place of paradise that is only two hours from Toronto. You don't have to deal with the big highways to get here and it is great wine, great food and great hospitality. If you come here once you will come again." Everyone I have asked about during this series has come up with something different for the "hidden gems" question I have been asking. Last week, Kimball said to him it was Lalaland Glass Studio, others have highlighted local restaurants or antique stores. For Keith, it is all about the outdoors and nature. Keith pointed out that Prince Edward County is very maritime. You have the lighthouses and the beaches that, due to their remote location, almost seem to be missed in this day and age. Point Petre and Point Traverse are just two of those older lighthouses that only locals seem to know about and then there are a wide range of conservation areas dotting the landscape throughout The County that make for some amazing walks on a warm, sunny summer day. Is it much wonder that, when Keith does manage to have some spare time, he loves to spend time on his sailboat? Not really - yoiu can tell he loves the outdoors and it is a side of Prince Edward County that nature enthusiasts would absolutely fall in love with.
Like everyone else, I asked Keith what he felt the challenges and triumphs have been for the wineries of Prince Edward County and what a wine festival like Terroir means to their business. In terms of challenges, Keith highlighted the weather and the climate. He said it is the one factor that binds all of the wineries together and it returns each year to present a new set of circumstances that need to be met head on and overcome. Before I tell everyone what he said their biggest triumph has been, let us take a look at what Terroir Wine Festival means to Closson Chase and the other wineries in the area. Keith says Terroir is a chance for all the wineries to get together and "show their wares." It is a chance to "be proud of what we have produced for those great vintages and show what we have been experimenting with." From Keith's point of view, "it takes everyone to make an industry and an event like Terroir brings us all together." With that personal perspective on the wine industry in Prince Edward County, is it much wonder that Keith considers the industry's biggest triumph to be "doing what we do and doing it well"? While there may be a couple more wineries make their appearance on the wine scene in this small corner of the province, where Keith sees The County in five years is more recognition for what is being done now and what will be done over the next couple of years.