News

Wolfhead Distillery excited to open its doors

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Essex County’s first craft distillery is ready to open its doors.

Wolfhead Distillery, located at 7781 Howard Ave., opens its doors to the public Friday. Local media were given an advanced look at the new facility Wednesday.

Tom Manherz and the team at Wolfhead Distillery open their doors to the public May 27. An official grand opening will be in late June.

Tom Manherz and the team at Wolfhead Distillery open their doors to the public May 27. An official grand opening will be in late June.

Wolfhead president/co-owner Tom Manherz said he and the team are excited and nervous about the new distillery. The team not only includes Manherz and his wife Sue, but distillers Karl Lonsbery and Ryan Bezaire and business development manager Karen Wettlaufer as well.

“It’s been two years in the making,” said Manherz. “It’s worth the wait.”

Once the distillery’s equipment was ordered, it took 14 months for it to arrive from Italy. There was a point where they were worried they weren’t going to be the first craft distillery in the area and that someone was going to “sneak in ahead of us” but they managed to get Wolfhead launched first.

Manherz was inspired by the local history of rum running and prohibition in the area, even noting that one of the first distillers also had ties to a sawmill. Manherz also owns Timberwolf Forest Products.

Wolfhead is trying to create its own unique flavours with six premium products available for onsite purchase. Those include premium whisky, coffee whiskey liqueur and apple caramel whiskey as well as premium vodka, banana caramel vodka and grapefruit flavoured vodka.

The plan is to get their products into bars and restaurants and also into LCBO locations down the road. Wolfhead also aims to branch off into coolers and gins down the road as well.

The operation at Wolfhead is a “grain to glass” outfit with Manherz stating there are 53 acres at his Howard Ave. site, including some farmland. A “distinct element” is the neighbouring quarry, the supplier of limestone treated water used in the production of Wolfhead’s spirits.

Consultant Steve Wright samples the smell of one of the vodkas the Howard Ave. distillery makes.

Consultant Steve Wright samples the smell of one of the vodkas the Howard Ave. distillery makes.

Manherz and his partners have invested roughly $1.5 million into the new craft distillery with an onsite restaurant also part of the operation.

Wolfhead has already booked several special events, including several weddings, showing the level of interest is high. Efforts are also trying to be made to partner with St. Clair College to get a distilling program at the school and use Wolfhead as onsite training for the students.

“People are excited to come,” said Manherz, adding that support has been great from the town and from Tourism Windsor Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI).

Dan DeMarco, a master distiller who is consulting with Wolfhead Distillery, gives the media a tour of the facility May 25.

Dan DeMarco, a master distiller who is consulting with Wolfhead Distillery, gives the media a tour of the facility May 25.

Steve Wright, a flavour expert retained by Wolfhead, discussed the flavours that Wolfhead is producing while master distiller Dan DeMarco gave a tour of the facility. The length of time between grain and glass varies greatly depending on the product, DeMarco noted, as it can take over four days for a vodka or gin to 10-12 years for a brand of whiskey.

DeMarco, who has 35 years of experience in the business with many of that being at Hiram Walker, was happy with how things are unfolding at Wolfhead Distillery.

“This has been an exciting start-up,” said DeMarco. “We’ve been really pleased with the product from the start.”

Both DeMarco and Wright are consultants that are working with Wolfhead.

Wolfhead Distillery can be contacted at 519-726-1111 or at www.drinkwolfhead.com. The official grand opening is planned for the end of June.

Enbridge returns as River Lights presenting sponsor

 

River Lights Winter Festival is continuing to shine and improve on their festivities thanks to a generous community investment from Enbridge’s Amherstburg Solar Farm.

“This is our tenth year of the River Lights Winter Festival and the third year that Enbridge has stepped up and supported the winter events,” said River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven. “With Enbridge’s sponsorship we will be able to boost programming and continue to light up our town with the beautiful light displays which have become a signature backdrop in historic Amherstburg.”

The River Lights Winter Festival received a $15,000 donation from Enbridge Wednesday morning. This is the third year Enbridge has become a presenting sponsor. They give the donation early to assist with the planning of the event. From left: River Lights committee members Mark & Karen Usher, Enbridge community engagement advisor Suzanne Shea, Enbridge GM Ian MacRobbie, River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven and River Lights committee member Norm Ross.

The River Lights Winter Festival received a $15,000 donation from Enbridge Wednesday morning. This is the third year Enbridge has become a presenting sponsor. They give the donation early to assist with the planning of the event. From left: River Lights committee members Mark & Karen Usher, Enbridge community engagement advisor Suzanne Shea, Enbridge GM Ian MacRobbie, River Lights co-ordinator Sarah Van Grinsven and River Lights committee member Norm Ross.

“Enbridge is one of Canada’s largest renewable energy companies and we are proud to help support the solar powered displays at the River Lights Winter Festival,” says Ian MacRobbie, Enbridge’s Eastern Region General Manager, Green Power & Transmission. “As the owner of the 15 megawatt Amherstburg solar facility – which generates enough power to supply nearly 2,400 homes – this partnership is a natural fit for our company and we look forward to sharing the holiday spirit with the Amherstburg community once again this winter.”

MacRobbie added Enbridge is “happy to help once again” and that the company’s background includes sponsorship of the Roots to Boots and Sails to See festivals. MacRobbie said tourism officials were consulted as to where they could help next and River Lights was suggested.

“This has been a great fit for us,” said MacRobbie.

This year’s River Lights program will begin with a new adult evening “Downtown Holiday Night” Nov. 18 followed with the traditional municipal tree lighting ceremony Nov. 19. The program runs until Dec. 31. Animated and themed solar powered displays begin to illuminate starting at approximately 5:30 p.m. every night of the festival at the King’s Navy Yard Park and Toddy Jones Park.

Town looking to acquire historic Belle Vue property

 

By Ron Giofu

The town of Amherstburg is looking at acquiring the roughly 200-year-old Belle Vue house and its adjoining properties and has authorized CAO John Miceli to enter into negotiations.

However, Mayor Aldo DiCarlo stated the town isn’t finalizing any purchases just yet.

Residents in favour of the building’s preservation sat both inside and outside the council chambers Tuesday night and applauded when town council unanimously passed the motion calling on administration to enter into negotiations with the property owner to try and acquire it for “municipal purposes” and simultaneously develop a business plan for the property. Formal acquisition of the land and the business plan is still subject to council approval.

The business plan is the key, said DiCarlo, as that will help describe how the town would pay for the purchase should it ultimately decide to buy it. He noted talk of a future use is a bit “premature” but noted the town’s official plan calls for the municipality to acquire waterfront lands when available.

Town council has authorized administration to enter into negotiations with the current Belle Vue owners and to compile a business plan. (Submitted photo)

Town council has authorized administration to enter into negotiations with the current Belle Vue owners and to compile a business plan. (Submitted photo)

“Everything is a stage in the process,” said DiCarlo. “We have to go through those stages.”

The mayor added the town has taken a position on the property and that will allow them to seek government grants and possible investment. He added the motion authorizes administration to deal with the details on how the property could possibly be acquired “so that it doesn’t go into private hands.”

DiCarlo added the town is “not even close to writing a cheque” at this stage. He made the motion himself, and even stepped away from running the meeting and remained on as a voting member while Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale ran the meeting for that issue.

Council heard from Robert Honor, a member of the Belle Vue Cultural Foundation, with Honor outlining the history of the building when it was built for Robert Reynolds in 1816-19 for Robert and Therese Reynolds and passed through the years including as a veteran’s hospital starting in 1947. St. Nicholas Orthodox Church took occupancy in 1962 and were the last occupants of the building.

It is one of two buildings in Canada designated for having Palladian architecture, Honor stated. A deal with St. Clair College to make it a multi-million dollar satellite campus fell apart in 2015 with Honor telling council that an offer to transfer the property for a tax receipt came after funding for the satellite campus expired.

Honor said the building is at risk of “demolition of neglect” but is still solidly built, though fire and water penetration are “still dangerous issues.” He suggested a somewhat similar motion to the one that was passed, as it called for the town to obtain the land and water lots as municipal property and to seek funding from upper levels of government as well as community fundraising.

“Please be a council that is remembered for 100 years to come,” Honor implored.

Following Honor’s delegation, council went into an in-camera session for just over one hour to discuss the issue and came out with the motion made in public session by DiCarlo.

“The chair is not supposed to make any motions,” he said. “I felt this was a big enough issue to where I would make the motion (and pass the meeting chair duties to DiPasquale.)

Councillor Rick Fryer said he would support any motion to save Belle Vue but “council has to make the decision.”

According to real estate agent Phil Kasurak, Belle Vue is listed for $1.95 million, though the online MLS listing has the property valued at $1.5 million. Belle Vue is located at 525 Dalhousie St. The entire property is over eight acres.

Over 100 vehicles entered thus far in 2016, says police chief

 

By Ron Giofu

Thefts from vehicles continues to be a problem, so much so that 2016 has been record-setting.

The issue arose at Tuesday night’s town council meeting with Councillor Joan Courtney requesting an update from police chief Tim Berthiaume. Courtney said she has heard from a number of residents on the matter, including several in the area of Concession 4 North. She questioned Berthiaume as to whether patrols had stepped up and whether there has been an increase over previous years.

Aburg Police Logo Rev-web

“Thefts from vehicles isn’t just an Amherstburg problem,” said Berthiaume. “It’s a county-wide problem.”

Berthiaume told town council the number of thefts from vehicles has “slowed down” in recent weeks but added that Amherstburg police have recorded over 100 complaints thus far in 2016.

“It’s unprecedented,” the chief stated.

Amherstburg police has previously encouraged residents to park in well-lit areas and to remove their valuables but Berthiaume said the biggest issue is to get people to secure their vehicles.

“We ask that people please lock their doors,” he said. “It’s a crime that can be averted.”

The bulk of the thefts from vehicles have been from people leaving their doors unlocked, which allows suspects to gain easy access to them. Windows haven’t been smashed and Berthiaume added doors typically haven’t been getting pried open in any fashion.

Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce files lawsuit against last year’s Mardi Gras organizer

 

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce (ACOC) has filed a lawsuit against Ian France and his company stemming from last year’s Mardi Gras.

Scott Deslippe, past president of the ACOC, confirmed to the River Town Times Tuesday afternoon that France has been served with the lawsuit. France and his company, Ian France Entertainment & Events (IFEE) was involved with the organization of last year’s Mardi Gras event.

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce has filed a lawsuit against the organizer of last year's Mardi Gras event.

The Amherstburg Chamber of Commerce has filed a lawsuit against the organizer of last year’s Mardi Gras event.

Deslippe confirmed news of the lawsuit to the RTT late Tuesday afternoon after the May 25 issue had gone to press.

“Yes, the Chamber has filed a lawsuit against Ian France and IFEE for his actions with regards to Mardi Gras in 2015 and we’re leaving it to the courts to decide. No further comment,” said Deslippe.

The River Town Times has left a message with France seeking comment. No allegations against France have been proven in court as of this posting.