Aim high & never accept the ordinary: lessons from my father
It is hard to believe it has been 30 years. I would have been 19 at the time I attended the first annual Cuvée Tasting. It was a new concept, a celebration of Ontario winemaking. A one-of-a-kind event at the time, where you could not only taste the wines, but meet the winemakers. I did wonder however what the fuss was all about. I mean why would anyone care so much to meet my dad?
Debi Pratt, long-time friend of our family and founding member of Cuvée and Director of Public Relations at the time for Inniskillin, insisted that people wanted to meet the winemakers at the heart of the rebirth of Canadian winemaking. She explained that people were intrigued to understand the changes happening in Ontario. Pratt understood that what my father was doing was different and that his commitment to quality in winemaking was visionary at the time.
If you knew my father, Karl Kaiser, you would know that he was a quiet, reserved man, just as happy to be behind the scenes working in his cellar. It often took some coaxing by Pratt to get my dad to attend the annual celebration, but when someone would take a moment to ask him about his wines, you could tell from the somehow-embarrassed smile he often had, that he truly enjoyed sharing his knowledge and passion with others.
Perhaps what made him so charming was the fact that he was so humble and unaware of the contribution he was making to Canada. My brother recently shared a story of when he asked my dad what it felt like to have changed the face of winemaking in Canada; his response: “What did I do?”
This year’s Cuvée Tasting celebration will be bittersweet, as I lost my dad this past November. The sting of this personal loss is still fresh. It is also at this point in time that I finally grasp the number of lives my dad has touched and understand the inspiration he has been to so many people. He was, quite simply, a great man who believed in great things; always proud to share his wines from Canada, even in times when many were not keen to even try, let alone be proud to drink them.
His gift to Niagara, Ontario and Canada was his vision for excellence in winemaking. His gift to me: aim high and never accept the ordinary.
The Cuvée Tasting 2018 will be held this coming weekend – March 23rd through 25th in Niagara.
I invite you to join us as we celebrate our 30th milestone of excellence in winemaking. Taste out of the ordinary wines, be proud and raise a glass to our exceptional wines and winemakers!