Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery

“Country at Heart” helps pair of area charities

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A sold-out crowd of 250 people attended the second “Country at Heart” fundraiser with two area charities being the beneficiaries.

The Fight Like Mason Foundation and the Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation will be the recipients of the funds raised at Saturday night’s event at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, with the whole evening being presented by the Dan Gemus Real Estate Team.

Gemus said that 100 per cent of what was raised is going to charity. He added that $23,000 was raised at the 2017 event and he is expecting at least that much, if not more, in 2018.

The Dan Gemus Real Estate Team used to have a charity yard sale annually but the manpower to operate it became too much. They changed their focus and decided to present a gala event, only one where they could enjoy themselves and remain casual at the same time. Since many on the team enjoy country music, “Country at Heart” was born.

Ashley Lynn and the Spurs were the headline performers at Saturday night’s “Country at Heart” fundraiser at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. It was presented by the Dan Gemus Real Estate Team.

“We decided to do something that doesn’t call for us to dress up,” said Gemus.

Throughout the years, Gemus said they tried to direct their fundraising towards charities that don’t get as much attention as larger causes. The Windsor Regional Cancer Centre Foundation helped use funds towards renovating a third-floor ICU waiting room at the Met Campus, with that floor not getting as much fundraising dollars as other areas of the hospital, Gemus explained.

The Fight Like Mason Foundation, he added, is a newer charity that is helping to fight childhood cancer in memory of Mason Bacon-Macri. Mason’s parents Iain Macri and Chantelle Bacon founded the charity in Mason’s name after he died in June 2016 at the age of four.

“What (the Fight Like Mason Foundation) is doing is absolutely amazing,” said Gemus.

Iain said they vowed to Mason before he died that they would continue to fight childhood cancer and one of the ways they are doing it is through “power poles,” which are IV poles decorate with superhero themes. The “power poles,” whether they be used in the hospital or at home, are designed to help children with cancer feel at ease.

Bacon added that despite being a registered charity for a little less than one year, the Fight Like Mason Foundation has raised almost $150,000.

Attendees at “Country at Heart” dance to the music of Adam Butcher last Saturday night. The event was presented by the Dan Gemus Real Estate Team and held at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Richard Vennettilli, president of the Windsor Regional Hospital Foundation, praised Gemus and his team for their efforts, noting the third-floor waiting room at the Met Campus wouldn’t have been renovated without proceeds from “Country at Heart.”

“He’s been doing amazing work,” Vennettilli said of Gemus.

Gisele Seguin, director of philanthropy at Windsor Regional Hospital, added “it’s wonderful what you are doing for patients and families.”

The evening featured a barbecue meal featuring ribs, chicken, potatoes and other “grub,” a dessert bar and musical performances by Adam Butcher and Ashley Lynn and the Spurs.

Kids Curing Cancer presents sold-out fundraiser

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a night that featured food, music and superheroes and, like in previous year’s, a local elementary school student helped organize it.

Kids Curing Cancer (KCC) returned Saturday evening with a new venue – Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery – and it drew a large crowd to support the cause. This year’s proceeds will benefit the Fight Like Mason Foundation, a charitable organization set up in memory of Mason Macri.

Macri succumbed to cancer June 27, 2016 when he was only four-years-old and the Fight Like Mason Foundation was created shortly thereafter.

“Everything is awesome. It’s just what we expected and more,” said Lauren Baillargeon, a Grade 8 student at Malden Central Public School who helped organize the event with the help of her family. “We are sold out at 250 tickets.”

As of Sunday night, the dinner raised over $7,000 with donations still coming in. Combined with other fundraisers, such as KCC’s recent “Hockey Day,” they have surpassed $12,000.

Ty, Lauren and Kierstyn Baillargeon stand with Mason Macri’s parents Chantelle Bacon and Iain Macri at Saturday night’s Kids Curing Cancer fundraiser at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

Kids Curing Cancer was started in memory of her grandfather Dan Gerard, who died of cancer in 2014. This year’s event was the fifth annual. It originally began when Baillargeon, with the help of her mother Jodi, helped make bracelets and ended up raising over $3,800.

“Everyone knows my grandpa. Everyone knows the hard work we are doing,” said Baillargeon. “People want to help as they have had someone who died or who went through cancer.”

The family never thought Kids Curing Cancer would grow like it has.

“I never thought it would get this big,” said Baillargeon. “I thought it would be one year of selling bracelets. That’s it.”

Baillargeon said they love their new venue, noting they had been there before for other events and came away impressed.

“We had no doubts about coming here,” she said. “It’s beautiful so why not stay here?”

Music has been a big part of their family with Baillargeon getting a love of music from her grandfather. That was demonstrated at the Kids Curing Cancer fundraiser when the family, including Jodi, Lauren, and Lauren’s siblings Ty and Kierstyn took to the stage.

“When you love what you do, it just kind of loves you back. My grandfather loved music and it loved him back,” said Baillargeon. “It’s part of what we do now. It’s become a tradition.”

Lauren Baillargeon and Kenneth MacLeod perform Saturday night.

The event saw over 100 door prizes donated.

“It’s all our family, friends and neighbours,” she said. “It’s awesome.”

Previous KCC fundraisers have benefited the Windsor Cancer Centre Foundation and Ronald McDonald House. The Fight Like Mason Foundation will use its proceeds towards its programs.

KCC held a concert late last year at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church and held the annual “Hockey Day” at the Libro several weeks ago.

“It’s so amazing,” said Chantelle Bacon, Mason’s mother. “Kids are helping other kids in honouring Mason. It’s overwhelming. It’s beautiful.”

Lauren Baillargeon sings as members of the band, which includes family members, perform around her at the Kids Curing Cancer benefit Feb. 17 at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery.

“These kids are honouring him by raising money,” added Iain Macri, Mason’s father. “You can’t ask for anything else. It’s amazing to watch.”

Both Kids Curing Cancer and the Fight Like Mason Foundation can be “liked” on Facebook with KCC’s Facebook site being www.facebook.com/kidscuringcancerforgrandpa. The Fight Like Mason Foundation’s website is www.fightlikemason.org.

Wineries brave the cold, hope for little damage

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The cold snap that local residents have had to endure has also had local wineries hoping it doesn’t impact this year’s crop of grapes.

Steve Mitchell, president of both Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery and EPIC Wineries, said there are concerns over heartiness of grapes at certain temperatures but there is not a big concern yet over widespread losses. Mitchell noted that temperatures as low as -20 degrees Celsius could mean some bud loss, “it does not mean total crop loss.”

Minor drops from there, though, can make a difference. He said Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc varieties could be impacted, particularly Merlot since it is the variety that is most planted locally, but added he is not overly concerned at this point.

“There’s no reason to believe it’s a total crop failure yet,” he said. “We’re watching it very closely right now.”

If there is no wind and very cold, the cold air settles to the ground causing a “thermal inversion.” In that case, Mitchell said fans would be activated and the air circulated.

“If we get the thermal inversion, that’s when we turn our wind fans,” he said. “If it’s cold and windy, that’s when we pray.”

Pruning starts in February and the level of damage will impact how the vineyard is pruned. He said there is little point in checking the vineyard now as more cold weather could come through the region.

“So far, we’re hopeful we still have a full crop load in the future,” said Mitchell.

Jean Qian, who owns Vivace Estate Winery with husband Max Wu, said they likely wouldn’t know of any damage until spring. Much like Mitchell, Qian said they are monitoring the temperatures closely,

“So far, everything is guesswork but we do have concerns,” said Qian. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed and seeing how things go.”

Qian noted there may be a percentage of the vines lost, but emphasized they don’t know yet.

“I don’t want to guess how many buds will be killed,” she said.

Noting forecasts last week called for windchills as low as -28C, Qian added “we do have big concerns if the temperatures are that low.”

Two more fundraisers planned by Belle Vue Conservancy

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The Belle Vue Conservancy has two more fundraisers planned for the month of September.

The first is a yard sale that is planned for the same weekend as the WE Harvest Festival – Sept. 9-10. The yard sale will be on the front yard of the 200-year-old Belle Vue house, located at 525 Dalhousie St. and it will run from 8:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. both days.

Shirley Curson-Prue, president of the Belle Vue Conservancy, said they will be accepting donations Sept. 7 at Belle Vue from 12-8 p.m.

“What we’re looking for are things that are collectable, vintage and retro,” said Curson-Prue.

Curson-Prue emphasized that all items are donated, including some items donated by her and husband Michael, who is also a conservancy member. She added some items that will be part of the yard sale will include dinnerware, pots and pans, and vintage and antique items.

“They are not from the (Belle Vue) house,” she said. “They are individual, separate donations.”

There will be no fabrics or clothing, she added.

Curson-Prue added there are a number of volunteers helping out.

“It should be a good event,” said Curson-Prue. “We promised that every penny saved, every penny earned, is going into the house which is what we’ve been doing all along.”

For more information on the yard sale, please call 519-736-6947.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

The Belle Vue Conservancy has a new logo, designed and donated by local artist Elio Del Col.

The Belle Vue Conservancy is also putting on a fashion gala entitled “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and that will be held Sept. 24 at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, located at 7258 County Road 50. Curson-Prue said tickets for that event are going well, as she estimated roughly 75 per cent of the tickets have been sold thus far.

The gala will feature both men’s and women’s fashion, with the clothing being from A La Mode and 67 Richmond. The evening will also include a five-course meal prepared by Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering.

There will be a cocktail hour, silent and live auctions and live entertainment from the jazz ensemble Michael Karloff, Ray Manzerolle and Mike Kabouk.

Tickets for the gala are $150 with a tax donation receipt of $50. They are available at A La Mode, 67 Richmond and the Gordon House.

For more information on the gala, contact Curson-Prue at 519-736-6947 or Linda Jackson at 226-345-0628. People can also visit www.bellevueconservancy.com and click on the “Events” tab.

United Way presents first-ever “Battle of the Growers”

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Teams comprised of wineries, growers and chefs from all around Essex County gathered at Pelee Island Winery Friday night to have fun and to raise a few bucks in the process.

“Battle of the Growers” was presented by United Way and several sponsors, including presenting sponsor Libro Credit Union, with six teams competing. Proceeds from the evening will go towards the “On Track” program that United Way sponsors in Leamington.

Local growers, wineries, chefs as well as students in the On Track program will compete in teams to create a delicious small plate appetizer-sized dish for 250 guests. The evening was designed to bring together members of the Ontario greenhouse industry and vegetable growers in a friendly competition. The hook was that the team has to use a vegetable or fruit supplied by the participating grower.

Bill Deslippe from Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering in Amherstburg shows the appetizer he and his team prepared for Battle of the Growers. It ended up being the winning entry. Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery and Highline Growers were also part of the team.

Bill Deslippe from Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering in Amherstburg shows the appetizer he and his team prepared for Battle of the Growers. It ended up being the winning entry. Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery and Highline Growers were also part of the team.

“We put together a group of women from the county and said ‘what can we do that would be different’,” explained Danielle Moldovan, relationship manager, major gifts and planned giving with United Way.

Moldovan noted the “bounty of the county” includes many great restaurants, farms and wineries so they worked to create an event for all of them.

“We decided to pair them together,” said Moldovan.

Judges included Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos and Councillor Tony Gaffan, Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, and Tourism Windsor-Essex Pelee Island (TWEPI) vice president Lynnette Bain.

The On Track program has Grade 9 and 10 cohorts in Leamington and assists students who have challenges in their lives and may not be able to succeed as well in high school without the program. Students gain support through the program in both their education and their lives with the program helping to place them on the path to prosperity and a better life. Students can also obtain tuition support for post-secondary education.

Jody Goslin of Oxley Estate Winery pours a glass of wine at Battle of the Growers Friday night. There were six teams of chefs, wineries and growers competing.

Jody Goslin of Oxley Estate Winery pours a glass of wine at Battle of the Growers Friday night. There were six teams of chefs, wineries and growers competing.

Karen Brady, interim vice president of marketing and communications with United Way, said students are identified in Grade 8 for possible enrollment into the On Track program. About 15-20 students per year go through the On Track program in Leamington, with an additional program offered in west Windsor. There is a success coach that helps the students along the way, she noted.

The cost to put a student through the program is $6,500 per year.

Lorraine Goddard, CEO at United Way Windsor-Essex County, said those who grow up in economically disadvantaged families face numerous challenges but the program helps students with self-esteem and puts them on a path to success.

United Way held its “Battle of the Growers” Friday night at Pelee Island Winery. Judges fro the event included (from left): Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, Kingsville councillor Tony Gaffan and TWEPI vice president Lynnette Bain.

United Way held its “Battle of the Growers” Friday night at Pelee Island Winery. Judges fro the event included (from left): Leamington Deputy Mayor Hilda MacDonald, Amherstburg Mayor Aldo DiCarlo, Kingsville Mayor Nelson Santos, Kingsville councillor Tony Gaffan and TWEPI vice president Lynnette Bain.

“This event is going to help kids in our community change the odds,” she said, adding they will be able to return to the community after getting an education, get jobs and help build the communities they live in.

The winning team included two Amherstburg businesses – Smashed Apple Gourmet Catering and Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery. They teamed with Highline Mushrooms from Kingsville.

Bill Deslippe, chef at Smashed Apple, said they were very busy on the night but was happy to be there.

“It’s all for a good cause,” he said.

Jody Goslin, master taster at Oxley Estate Winery, said they were approached by Pelee Island Winery about helping out United Way and its On Track program.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Goslin. “We’re all in this together.”