Canadian Winery Trailblazer and ‘Free My Grapes’ Champion Win Coveted Industry Awards

With great admiration across the Canadian wine industry, Donald Triggs and Shirley-Ann George have been named winners of this year’s Canadian Wine Industry Awards. The awards, sponsored by the Canadian Vintners Association (CVA), are a focal point for the industry to celebrate the success and outstanding commitment in Canada’s grape wine industry.

The recipient of this year’s Award of Distinction, which is regarded as the highest form of peer recognition within the Canadian wine industry, is Donald Triggs. A remarkable entrepreneur, Triggs saw an opportunity for the Canadian wine industry in 1989, on the brink of the North American Free Trade Agreement, co-founding Vincor. Under his leadership as CEO, Triggs launched the iconic Jackson-Triggs brand and winery and established international joint ventures to support the development of Le Clos Jordanne and Osoyoos LaRose wineries. By 2006, Triggs had successfully grown Vincor to become the largest wine business in Canada and seventh largest wine company in the world. Co-founder of Culmina Family Estate Winery in British Columbia, Triggs has made significant contributions to the Canadian industry through his work on the boards of the Wine Council of Ontario, Brock University, Grapes for Humanity and CVA. He is an advocate of the VQA system, a proponent of continuing investment in industry research and development, and a sage mentor and counsel to the industry.

“Equipped with strong business acumen, and driven by a sense of conviction in Canadian terroir and workmanship, Don Triggs has been instrumental to the growth of the Canadian wine industry,” said Tony Stewart, CVA Chair and CEO of Quails’ Gate Winery. “Triggs’ contribution to the industry over the past four decades cannot be underestimated — he is a true visionary who has helped place Canadian wine on the world map.”

Accepting the award, Triggs said: “As Co-Proprietor of Culmina Family Estate Winery with my wife Elaine, and joined by our daughter Sara, we share a passion not only to create distinctive icon quality wines reflective of our Golden Mile terroir in the South Okanagan Valley, but also to work as a partner within our industry, to continue building a future for Canadian wines around the world.”

The Wine Industry Champion Award was presented to Shirley-Ann George, founder and President of the Alliance of Canadian Wine Consumers, better known as FreeMyGrapes. George has been instrumental in the movement to allow Canadians to buy wines from wineries not located in their own province. After many years of hard work, George’s winery-to-consumer delivery leadership led to the unanimous passage of Bill C-311 in 2012, which delivered the first amendment into the federal Importation of Intoxicating Liquors Act (IILA) in 84 years and eliminated the federal restrictions prohibiting individuals from moving wine across provincial boundaries when purchased for personal use. In 2012, George received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her advocacy efforts.

“Shirley-Ann George has been a tireless champion of consumers across Canada eager to sample more of their country’s diverse wines” said Stewart. “Just last year, Nova Scotia joined British Columbia and Manitoba in allowing Canadians to purchase wine directly from wineries in other provinces, with George’s efforts making a decided contribution to this success.”

“I am very honoured to accept this award,” said George, receiving the award. “However, we have more work to do, and I encourage all to let our politicians know that it is time to free my grapes in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, PEI and Newfoundland, where they do not permit their residents to order wine and have it delivered from an out of province winery. It is only together, by working in concert with consumers, the industry and parliamentarians, that we will finish the job.”

The awards were presented on July 5, 2016, at an awards reception on the eve of the 49th Annual General Meeting of the CVA, an event which brings together winery representatives from across Canada to help inform vintners on market opportunities, domestic and international growth and the building of more sales channels.

About the Canadian Vintners Association

The Canadian Vintners Association (CVA) is the national voice of the Canadian wine industry, representing more than 90% of annual wine production. CVA members are engaged in the entire wine value chain from grape growing, farm management, grape harvesting, research, wine production, bottling, retail sales and tourism.

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