Those gorgeous Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards, the famed Red Paw/Black Paw blocks, of Coyote’s Run in Niagara-on-the-Lake will be no more as of Nov. 29.
Tweed Marijuana Inc., a burgeoning medical marijuana greenhouse operation with properties in Smiths Falls and Niagara-on-the-Lake, has purchased the winery, which in itself was sold to a Toronto businessman not too long ago.
It wasn’t the famed vineyards that Tweed was after, but its location right next door to its massive greenhouse facility on Concession 5 Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake. It is inevitable that the property, including the vineyards and, one would assume, the buildings, will be bull-dozed over to make room for more greenhouses as the company ramps up to produce even more marijuana for when pot becomes legal next July.
There were a lot of sad faces at the winery today. All 10 employees remaining at the winery will be out of jobs as of Nov. 29 and all wine currently in the retail store is being at 50% off, and that’s after wine club members had first dibs. As well, the harvested Pinot Gris and Chardonnay will be sold off as bulk wine to whoever wants it. No more wine is being made at Coyote’s Run.
As I entered the tasting room today, after I woke up and saw a Facebook post from wine writer Evan Saviolidis (credit where credit is due), cases of wine were flying out the door and there was a steady stream of cars coming and going. In the winery, guests were seated, unaware of the news, for the Pinot Affair, an annual celebration of all things Pinot in Niagara.
Hospitality manager Cari-Beth Bernard could barely hold back tears as she discussed the sale of the winery.
“I’ve been here seven years,” she told me. “I’ve made lots of great friends and family. It’s not easy.”
Bernard said the remaining staff intends hang in until the last day, clearing out the wine and trying to carry on as if all is normal.
“We’re here and we’re going to make the best of it.”
Bernard also noted that new owner of Coyote’s Run, who she only knows as “Paul” from Toronto, wasn’t looking to sell the winery, but wine “wasn’t his passion and the price was right.”
A winemaker/owner from Prince Edward County was just pulling into the winery as I was leaving. He was there checking out the various pieces of equipment that are being sold off at a huge discount. He was in shock like the rest of us that such a fine winery could be finished like this.
In a puzzling late night development, Jordan Sinclair, a spokesman for Tweed, sent an email saying: “I work at Tweed and just wanted to reach out to clarify that while we are expanding at our Niagara-on-the-Lake greenhouse and a number of our other sites, we haven’t purchased Coyote Run.”
What? Well an entire winery thinks you have bought them and are liquidating as I write this. I have to stand by what the winery has told Wines In Niagara, as I have no reason to doubt them.
In a related (or maybe not related) development, Barry Katzman announced his resignation from managing both Stoney Ridge Winery and Weir Wine to take the position of President and CEO of Tidal Health Solutions, a large provider of medical cannabis that is poised for seminal growth with the pending legalization of their product and the explosion that is currently taking place in the cannabis sector.
“I make this move exclusively because it is a major opportunity for me and the best thing for myself and my family and I am both energized and excited about this brand new industry and its future.”
I reached out to Katzman to find out if the company was expanding beyond the Maritimes to Niagara, but did not get a response by the time this was posted.
I also asked for comment about the future of both Stoney Ridge winery and Weir Wine. Here is the response I received:
“We appreciate your interest in our wineries. I am an appropriate contact for such inquiries. At this time I must advise you that the wineries have no further comment,” signed Leah Maves.
An article in Niagara this Week in September announced that Tweed was making an investment of more than $9 million to expand its greenhouse facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The article said:
“Canopy Growth Corporation, operator of the largest known licensed cannabis production facility on the globe, announced it finalized the purchase of a parcel of land — which includes an operational 458,000 square feet greenhouse — to expand its Niagara-on-the-Lake site to feature more than one million square feet of greenhouse space under glass. The purchase of the property, located adjacent to their current facility on Concession 5 Road, was a $9-million transaction and an upgrade is expected to begin in October that will include new irrigation systems, environmental controls, automation and shading systems and more.
“In addition, the company has announced a renovation to its present facility for postharvest facilities, including 10,000 square feet of space for new drying rooms and an upgraded laboratory, as well as the addition of a 212,000-square-foot greenhouse due to be completed by next April.”
The story quoted Bruce Linton, chair and CEO of Canopy Growth, who said the “investment to establish more than one million square feet of greenhouse space comes with much growth on the horizon, not only with the changing regulations in Canada next year, but international expansion and a medical market that has grown from about 80,000 customers a year ago to 200,000 today.”
Indeed, when I attempted to get inside the compound next to Coyote’s Run, blocked by a security gate, it was obvious that there is rapid growth at the site. With row after row of greenhouses it was clear a lot more of them were being built in a hurry.
The massive piece of property, and the equally massive investment in marijuana in Niagara, appears to be the tip of iceberg. And Niagara is clearly being targeted to facilitate that growth.
Pass the munchies, we are in for a wild ride.
By Rick VanSickle – winesinniagra.com