Whitty crowned Grape King

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - NEWS -

A man whose wines have “el­e­vate the en­tire On­tario grape in­dus­try” was him­self el­e­vated to be­come the in­dus­try’s monarch.

Doug Whitty, owner of Whitty Farms and 13th Street Win­ery, was se­lected as the 2017 Grape King, and hon­oured with the ti­tle dur­ing a cer­e­mony at his St. Catharines win­ery Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

“I be­lieve that a key com­po­nent to our con­tin­ued suc­cess as an in­dus­try is re­lated di­rectly to our abil­ity to work cre­atively to­gether with all our part­ners so that en­joy­ment of lo­cal wine and food ex­pe­ri­ences are more fully rec­og­nized as an im­por­tant part of Cana­dian cul­ture,” Whitty said in a me­dia re­lease. “I am pleased yet hum­bled by this nom­i­na­tion. I have learned a great deal from other grape grow­ers. It will be a great hon­our and priv­i­lege to rep­re­sent them as Grape King this year.”

Grape Grow­ers of On­tario chair­man Matthias Op­pen­laen­der said the or­ga­ni­za­tion is thrilled to have some­one with Whitty’s ex­pe­ri­ence and com­mit­ment serve as Grape King and am­bas­sador for the grape and wine in­dus­try.

Farm Credit Canada’s agri-busi­ness and agri-food se­nior di­rec­tor Tr­ish Bot­ter said the Grape King ti­tle rec­og­nizes “ex­cep­tional qual­ity, ex­per­tise and lead­er­ship in this in­dus­try.”

“Doug Whitty’s 13th Street oper­a­tion helps el­e­vate the en­tire On­tario grape in­dus­try and is proof that On­tario vine­yards are more than ca­pa­ble of com­pet­ing on the world stage,” she said.

As Grape King – a tra­di­tion dat­ing back to 1956 – Whitty will serve a na­tional am­bas­sador for On­tario’s grape and wine pro­duc­ers for the next year, rep­re­sent­ing the in­dus­try at events across Canada.

His reign will be­gin this week­end, rep­re­sent­ing the in­dus­try at the Mayor’s Grape Stomp on Satur­day, and in the 66th an­nual Grande Pa­rade week later dur­ing the Ni­a­gara Grape and Wine Festival.

Ni­a­gara Grape and Wine Festival ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Kim­berly Hun­dert­mark called Whitty a “an in­cred­i­ble am­bas­sador for our grape and wine in­dus­try,” whose fam­ily was pre­vi­ously rec­og­nized with the 2015 RBC Win­ery with Heart award, rec­og­niz­ing their com­mit­ment and pas­sion for the com­mu­nity.

Whitty is the sec­ond in his fam­ily to earn the Grape King ti­tle.

In 1986, his un­cle Rodger Whitty wore the crown and cape that at the time was part of the ti­tle. The royal at­tire has since been re­placed by a chain that car­ries the names of past Grape Kings.

Grape Grow­ers of On­tario CEO Debbie Zim­mer­man pointed out that as a third-gen­er­a­tion grape grower in On­tario and the sec­ond of the fam­ily to be crowned Grape King, “Doug is ex­pe­ri­enced in all as­pects of the in­dus­try.”

Dur­ing his reign as Grape King, Whitty’s fam­ily farm started by his grand­fa­ther in 1908 will cel­e­brate 110 years in oper­a­tion, now pro­duc­ing 55 acres of vinifera wine grapes.

The Fourth Av­enue farm has also be­come home to com­mu­nity ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the an­nual Grapes of Wrath Mud Run, sup­port­ing the Cana­dian Can­cer So­ci­ety Wheels of Hope pro­gram.

Whitty do­nates his prop­erty as well as his time to the event, spend­ing about a month each year build­ing the course with help from friends.


Doug Whitty of 13th Street Win­ery was crowned Grape King for the 2017 Ni­a­gara Wine Festival on Wed­nes­day.

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