2013 one of the best for the wine festival, say organizers



By Ron Giofu


The ninth annual Shores of Erie International Wine Festival has come to a close with organizers smiling about how things turned out.

Wine fest1 Wine fest3The unofficial crowd for the four-day festival was approximately 21,000 and that number pleases organizing committee chair Karen Gyorgy.

“I think this was one of our best years yet,” said Gyorgy. “Thursday night was our best concert night. That really, really helped.

The Sheepdogs headlined Thursday night but it was local talents like Colin Marshall of The Toniks, The Mike Ure Band and Kerri Brown among others that also helped draw crowds.

“It’s about the up-and-coming talents,” said Gyorgy. “They were so very happy to (perform at the wine festival).”

Gyorgy said Friday night was a country themed night and that drew a “mellow crowd” with Michelle Wright headlining. Saturday night was the usual sell-out with some restaurants reportedly running out of food due to the large crowd while Sunday was “the perfect wine festival day” with pleasant weather and atmosphere.

While there were small bouts of rain, festival organizers were still thrilled with the weather this year.

“Weather-wise, we couldn’t have asked for a better weekend,” said Gyorgy. “The rain didn’t dampen any spirits. By the time people got their umbrellas up, the rain stopped.”

There were 14 wineries – 12 with two locations – and 18 restaurants this year. Gyorgy said between Fort Malden, the sponsors, the wineries and the restaurants, it led to a successful event. She said the team of 450 volunteers “that never stop from last Tuesday until now” help made this year’s wine festival what it was.

“It takes a whole village to raise a child and it takes a whole village to put on this festival,” she said.

Without the volunteers, she added, there would be no wine festival.

Gyorgy also noted the House of Shalom and Skate Amherstburg had volunteers on site to assist with those organizations to get a donation after things conclude.

In addition to the volunteers, festival staff members including director Kelly O’Rourke and administrator Karen Wettlaufer as well as the two staff members were praised for their ongoing efforts as were the entire committee.

“Without Kelly and Karen and the students we have as well as the committee, they do so much to put the festival on the map,” said Gyorgy.

Looking over the grounds at Fort Malden Monday morning as the festival was being taken down, Gyorgy reflected with pride.

“It’s just a proud moment,” she said. “It’s a very, very proud moment to be a member of this committee that does this.”

In terms of organization, Gyorgy believed this year to be one of their better festivals.

During last Thursday night’s opening ceremonies, Tourism Windsor Essex County Pelee Island (TWEPI) CEO Gordon Orr said this area has “ideal conditions” for vineyards and that is paired with outstanding food at the festival.

“After nine years, they have a successful track record and people keep coming back,” said Orr.

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