Gus Moscatello honoured for volunteer service by Shores of Erie International Wine Festival

 

By Ron Giofu

 

A founding member of the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival has been honoured by the current committee for his years of volunteerism.

Gus MoscatelloGus Moscatello was named this year’s recipient of the Jon Halls Volunteer of the Year Award at the wine festival’s committee volunteer dinner last Wednesday evening at the AMA Sportsmen’s Club. Moscatello, a past chair of the wine festival committee, said he was shocked to be the recipient of the award.

“Absolutely not,” he said, when asked if he saw it coming. “It was a total shock.”

Moscatello joked he was “supposed to be fishing” but coming to the dinner ended up being a bigger event than he bargained for.

“One of the best things about this award is I admired Jon Halls,” said Moscatello. “He was my hero. He was someone I was constantly looking up to. I knew Jon well. It’s great to receive this award. It’s a great honour.”

Volunteers are what keep the festival going, he said.

“We owe everything to our volunteers,” said Moscatello. “Nothing would be possible without them. Thank you to them and to the people who support the festival.”

Getting the festival to where it is today was always the goal, but they didn’t always know whether it would materialize.

“We had the vision that this is where we wanted to go,” said Moscatello. “I didn’t know if we’d get there or not.”

Karen Gyorgy, the current chair of the Shores of Erie International Wine Festival committee, said “respect” and “passion” were two words that come to mind when describing Moscatello.

“Eleven years ago, Gus Moscatello, a well respected wine connoisseur, joined a committee that had a passion to bring a wine festival to Amherstburg and thus the incredible journey began,” said Gyorgy.

Gyorgy said the committee had a vision, but not a lot of money.

“Gus was a pioneer in creative ways to generate revenue to organize this event,” said Gyorgy. “A local farmer offered to plant sunflowers. He planted them and they grew strong and tall. Gus and Anne Rota would harvest and bundle the sunflowers to sell around town to raise money. So as the saying goes, plant the seeds and you  will bear the fruit!”

The initial Shores of Erie International Wine Festival had three wineries and seven restaurants participating. Rota would become the chair with Moscatello as vice-chair and head of logistics.

“He started with a blank slate and many, many times he would have to wrap his head around many logistical nightmares,” said Gyorgy.

After Rota became employed by the town, Moscatello moved up to the chair’s position and Gyorgy said he was respected and had respect for others as well.

“The small city that we see today – the infrastructure, plumbing, electrical and vendor layout – was the brainchild of Gus,” said Gyorgy. “As the festival grew, so did logistics and he was patiently teaching and sharing his knowledge with his logistics team.”

Gyorgy said as the festival grew, Moscatello always had a kind word for everyone. She served as his vice-chair before moving up herself and Gyorgy added Moscatello “will always be a very dear friend to all of us that have been blessed to work and learn” from him.

Moscatello retired as a committee member two years ago to spend more time with his family but remains a logistics team volunteer. Gyorgy estimated that in the years he has volunteered with the wine festival, he touched more than 124,000 people with his expertise.

“We are what we are today because of you, the incredible person you are,” Gyorgy told Moscatello.

This year’s Shores of Erie International Wine Festival is scheduled for Sept. 5-8 at Fort Malden National Historic Site. Individual Saturday tickets are sold out.

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