Tom Manherz

Wolfhead Distillery first Canadian venue to host Banksy art exhibit

 

 

By Jolene Perron

 

According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Saving Banksy” is “the story of one misguided art collector’s attempts to save a Banksy painting from destruction and the auction block.”

The painting featured in that Netflix documentary has made its way to Amherstburg’s own Wolfhead Distillery and is on display until tomorrow evening.

Banksy is an anonymous graffiti artist from England, known for their street art which combines dark humor with graffiti, and use of a stenciling technique.

Jason Freed, event owner/organizer with Campus Crawl Tours explained when he originally submitted his pitch for Saving Banksy Canada, he submitted offers to Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Niagara On The Lake and Windsor. With Windsor being his hometown, he pushed hard for the border city to be a part of the tour.

Along with the original Banksy painting, local artists are also displaying their art at Wolfhead Distillery as part of the showcase until Thursday November 16.

“I was lucky enough to see some of Banksy’s artwork when I was living in England so that’s when I became a fan,” explained Freed. “The reality is that most people will never get the opportunity to see an original Banksy in their lifetime, so we’re very proud to be hosting one of the most sought after pieces of contemporary art in the world in our hometown.”

In order to be selected to host the painting, the venue must hold an art exhibit, promoting graffiti/art which is free to the public. Wolfhead Distillery has been hosting the art exhibit, which allows attendees to observe the Banksy painting as well as a 200 square foot warehouse space stacked full of local art since Tuesday, and will remain on display for free until Thursday at 5 p.m. Freed explained since they were already hosting the free three day event, they were also able to host ticketed events to help offset the costs.

“The ‘Dinner With Banksy Party’ (Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7 p.m.) features a gourmet British themed menu, music and also includes a distillery tour and sample tasting as well,” explained Freed. “It’s definitely a unique date night. How many times can you say you ate dinner with a painting worth more than $1.5 million?”

Wolfhead Distillery co-owners Sue Manherz (centre) and Tom Manherz (right) stand with Banksy painting “caretaker” Brian Grief (left). The painting will be on display until Thursday November 16.

The official closing night gala Thursday features celebrity DJ’s flying in from New York, live art battles, silent auctions and more. The event runs from 7 p.m. until 12 a.m. Thursday. All of the event proceeds for ticketed events are going to charities such as United Way, who has a mural project Wolfhead Distillery is supporting.

“We are honoured to host an internationally admired and respected art piece. Not only does this piece bring recognition to Wolfhead and Windsor-Essex, but it also allows us to draw attention to local causes and charities,” explained Stephanie Saad, marketing and logistics director at Wolfhead Distillery. “The evening events were created to celebrate the arrival of the art piece. The painting is a symbol of expression and creativity and to support these ideas within a community we decided to involve local artists, musicians and charities.”

For more information about this week’s events, visit http://campuscrawltours.com/saving-banksy-united-way-closing-night-gala.

Town takes another step forward toward adding craft brewery

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The town of Amherstburg already has a craft distillery and could soon have a craft brewery.

Those two amenities could also be at the same site, now that the town has moved the process of a zoning change forward.

Craft beer may soon be coming to Amherstburg thanks to Lonsbery Farms Brewing Company, a business that is planning to partner with and operate out of Wolfhead Distillery on Howard Ave. Karl Lonsbery, a proponent of the craft brewery, said while they are seeking approval for the ability to create beer, wine and mead, the focus will be on beer.

“One step at a time,” he said.

Lonsbery already works with Ryan Bezaire in running the stills at Wolfhead and is working with the AGCO to get licensing for the craft brewery. He hopes it will be up and running by Christmas.

“It’s out of our hands at this point,” said Lonsbery.

Wolfhead Distillery co-owner Tom Manherz (right) conducts a tour of the facility Nov. 15. Wolfhead is looking to partner with Lonsbery Farms Brewing Co. to add a craft brewery at the Howard Ave. business.

Wolfhead Distillery co-owner Tom Manherz (right) conducts a tour of the facility Nov. 15. Wolfhead is looking to partner with Lonsbery Farms Brewing Co. to add a craft brewery at the Howard Ave. business.

The craft brewery could be a nice complement to what is already at Wolfhead, he believes, adding that there are cross-marketing ideas as well. He and Wolfhead owner Tom Manherz envision a “one-stop shop” for alcoholic beverages there at some point.

Lonsbery added he is only aware of one other facility in Ontario that offers craft beer and craft spirits at the same location.

“We want to make it a destination,” he said.

Councillor Rick Fryer said the town will help in any way it can while Councillor Diane Pouget said she had no objections.

“I wish you the best,” she said.

Mayor Aldo DiCarlo said the zoning passed for Wolfhead allowed for spirits but not a brewery so the amendment to the zoning will help expand what can happen at the Howard Ave. site. DiCarlo said craft breweries are starting to become more popular and Amherstburg stands to reap some benefits.

“There’s one other that I’ve heard from,” he said. “Obviously I can’t talk about it but craft breweries are something to explore.”

DiCarlo said the town has a lot of wineries and that a craft brewery will fit in well with the town. He added it is a clean industry that uses the sources of ingredients that are around them.

“It’s a great business in that it helps out other businesses around them,” said the mayor.

Wolfhead Distillery’s website captures award

 

Special to the RTT

The town’s new craft distillery is being noticed for its food and drink, but is now being recognized for its website as well.

Wolfhead Distillery, which opened its doors in late May, have enjoyed a “highly successful first month” with thousands of people sampling ultra-premium spirits at enjoying a meal on the patio.

Now, the distillery has announced success for their online presence as well.

Wolfhead Distillery has received a Silver 2016 Summit Creative Award for their website designed by Douglas Marketing Group (DMG), a Windsor-based agency with international reach.

With over 5,000 entries from 21 countries in this year’s competition, owner Tom Manherz was particularly happy with the result.

A screenshot of the homepage of Wolfhead Distillery's award-winning website, found at www.drinkwolfhead.com.

A screenshot of the homepage of Wolfhead Distillery’s award-winning website, found at www.drinkwolfhead.com.

“As the ideas came together to start the distillery, we realized our website would be critical for spreading the word and telling our story. I think the award recognizes our achievement of that,” he said.

Wolfhead Distillery boasts six uniquely flavoured spirits, a tasting room and a spirits-paired menu. DMG started the brand launch by presenting label designs for whisky and vodka bottles to a focus group of spirits enthusiasts and community members and then went to work with its integrated marketing and design approach. The Wolfhead brand was ultimately designed to embrace the history of the region, with a nod to the bustling tourism business. The website is being described as one that captures the personality of the Wolfhead brand, while sharing distinct messaging for media and the region.

According to Liz Farano, DMG’s vice president, it was a welcome challenge to strike a balance between sophistication and fun.

“Wolfhead’s whisky and vodka are very high-end, crafted products, but the positioning appeals to a broader audience. The brand and website embody these qualities – clean, fresh, accessible combined with striking graphics and design.”

According to Manherz, the next step is to use the website to grow the Distillery’s fan base, called the Wolfpack. He’s pleased to say the distillery has a busy few months ahead “with lots on the horizon, including our Grand Opening and new product launches.”

The website can be found at www.drinkwolfhead.com.

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.

Wolfhead job fair successful

 

 

By Adam D’Andrea

 

Over 100 potential employees headed to the Wolfhead Distillery Saturday afternoon to become part of Windsor and Essex County’s first premium craft distillery.

The new distillery and accompanying restaurant, which are set to open in late May, held a job fair April 23 to find kitchen staff, wait staff, production workers and mixologists. The day was deemed a success with many eager job-seekers gathering at 8 a.m., two hours before the job fair’s scheduled start time.

“It was very busy. During the first couple of hours there were a lot of people. If we kept going along those lines we would’ve had 300 people here,” said Wolfhead team member Karen Wetlauffer, who added the distillery is looking to fill 20 to 30 positions over the next few months.

Wolfhead Distillery co-owners Larry Girard (left) and Tom Manherz show off some of their equipment following a successful on-site job fair. Windsor and Essex County’s first premium craft distillery is set to open at the end of May. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

Wolfhead Distillery co-owners Larry Girard (left) and Tom Manherz show off some of their equipment following a successful on-site job fair. Windsor and Essex County’s first premium craft distillery is set to open at the end of May. Photo by Adam D’Andrea

“As production kicks up and people start purchasing our products we’re going to need an extra shift, and then an extra shift after that. This is all pretty much just assuming it’s the day shift, one shift a day.”

Initially the distillery was only supposed to be a bottling company, providing services for large companies such as Hiram Walker and Diageo. However, as time went on owner Tom Manherz decided it would be a great idea to get into the up-and-coming business of craft distilling. Currently distilleries face considerably more restrictions in Ontario than breweries and wineries, but according to Wetlauffer the government is now working to level the playing field.

“We can’t go and deliver to a local restaurant around here, but breweries and wineries can. So the playing field isn’t level, but the government is going through right now and trying to do that,” Wetlauffer said. “So it’s a perfect time to get in this, we feel. The wave of the wineries has happened, and then the wave of the micro-breweries happened, and now it’s the craft distillery.”

The Wolfhead team is excited to get their fresh and creative products out to the public, which will include caramel apple whiskey, grapefruit vodka, coffee whiskey liqueur and many others.

Those who are interested in working for Wolfhead and may have missed the job fair are still encouraged to send a resume and cover letter to info@drinkwolfhead.com.