Vivace Estate Winery

Holiday House Tours return Nov. 24-25


Special to the RTT

A popular part of the River Lights Winter Festival is set to return in late November.

On Saturday, November 24 and Sunday, November 25, the popular and beloved River Lights Holiday House Tours is making a return this holiday season. The town states that tickets are now available for purchase.

The self-guided tour, which features some of Amherstburg’s most spectacular private homes, allows the public to view these spaces decked out for the holidays. There are eight homes featured this year, as well as a stop at Vivace Estate Winery, which is hosting the Christmas Tree Dress Exhibit, as well as providing complimentary tea, treats and wine tasting.

Paige Bezaire, Chas Bondy, Jenny Mayea and Laura Micallef admire one of the table settings during the Holiday House Tours last November. The 2018 Holiday House Tours are Nov. 24-25.

Tours run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

Tickets, which are priced at $25 per person, are available at the Gordon House, Sobeys Amherstburg, Dusty Loft Antiques and Collectibles, Country Bliss and Windsor Crossing Premium Outlets. They can also be purchased online at

Tickets sell out fast, so people are encouraged to get their tickets early.

For more information, visit or People can also phone 519-730-1309 for additional information.

South African Child Uganda say thank you to sponsors



By Christian Bouchard


For as little as a loonie per day, South African Child Uganda is helping change the lives of hundreds of children.

Save African Child Uganda (SACU) is a non-profit organization established in 2007 and later started its operation in 2010 by a Ugandan children rights activist Ivan Nsera and Gerri Sutts in response to the ever-increasing need of HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children in difficult circumstances.

“We don’t know what poverty is here in Canada,” said Elaine Johnson, one of the six committee members.

SACU held a wine tasting event at Vivace Estate Winery to thank all their sponsors over the years.

From left to right: Rick Vreisen, Kathy Vreisen, Elaine Johnson, Ingrid Silvaggio, Cherryl Rutgers and Betty Westfall pose for a picture at Vivace Estate Winery at their sponsorship appreciation event for SACU.

For less than $1 a day, or $350 for a year, sponsors help children receive education, two meals a day, medical assistance for HIV and malaria, school uniforms and shoes as well as 24 hours a day care.

According to Johnson, the children are receiving one of the best educations possible. After eight years, Johnson noted SACU has now sent their first group off to high school, with most students excelling.

“The children go through a government testing,” said Johnson. “Our kids scored high and their marked outweighed the local schools in their area. Even the government school, they did much better.

Since its inception, SACU has helped 160 children attend school, away from poverty where they have seven classrooms, two shelters an outdoor chapel and bananas growing on site.

Ingrid Silvaggio, a committee member for SACU said they have been taking 15 new kids every year, but right now due to sponsorships, they are looking at sending just ten children to school the next go around.

“Sponsor have made a huge difference in a child’s life,” said Silvaggio. “They’ve created a whole new future for these kids. It’s an ongoing commitment from our sponsors and they’ve changed the children’s lives forever for less than a dollar per day.”

Those who are interested in becoming a sponsor are encouraged to contact Betty at 519-978-3623 or e-mail

EPIC Wineries vintage wine tasting comes to Vivace


By Jonathan Martin


Hundreds have turned out for the 24th annual Essex Pelee Island Coast (EPIC) Wineries vintage wine tasting.

The event brought wineries from across the region together so that wine-lovers could sample a melange of tastes all in one location.

Eventgoers sipped on a selection of vintages from many wineries in the area, listened to music and munched on cheeses, chocolates, sushi, ribs, sliders, tacos and more.

This year, the vintage tasting was held at Vivace Estate Winery, a new addition to the region’s roster of wine producers and to EPIC’s membership list.

Vivace owner Jean Qian said she was excited to play hostess.

“(Organizing the event has been) a lot of work,” she said.  “I am grateful for all the help from family and friends and for the opportunity to be a part of this wonderful region.”

Jean Qian and Vivace Estate Winery hosted a vintage winte tasting.

Qian said EPIC has been “very helpful” during Vivace’s infancy.  The winery is just over a year old and is Qian’s first foray into the industry.  Before taking on winemaking, Qian developed motorcycle apparel in China.  This is Vivace’s first time hosting an event of this scale.

Michael O’Brien is the secretary of EPIC.  He said the tasting is an important part of Essex County’s so-called “wine country.”

“(We organize the vintage tasting) to promote ourselves,” he said.  “I think there are a lot of people out in the area who aren’t familiar with wine country out in Essex County and this is a great opportunity to interact with them and build relationships.”

O’Brien, who has worked in the industry for around a decade, said the day’s turnout was roughly on par with previous years.  This is the first time he has helped organize the event, though.  He was voted onto EPIC’s board around six months ago.

EPIC is a partnership between local wineries, growers and other stakeholders that acts as a platform for collective marketing and a united voice between those working in the wine industry.

“This is a great collective,” Qian said.  “A great collective in a great area.”

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.”

D’Angelo Estate Winery changes over to Vivace Estate Winery



By Ron Giofu


A new winery at a familiar location has opened in Amherstburg.

Vivace Estate Winery, owned by the husband and wife duo of Jean Qian and Max Wu, is now open at 5141 Concession 5 North. If that address is familiar to people, it is because it was formerly known as D’Angelo Estate Winery.

Qian and Wu bought the property in January and are being guided through the transition process by Chris D’Angelo, son of former owner Sal D’Angelo. D’Angelo Estate Winery now operates in Penticton, British Columbia.

Qian said they purchased the property in Amherstburg due to a long-standing interest in farming and wines.

“I like farms, I like vineyards and I like wines,” she explained.

Formerly in the motorcycle clothing business while living in China, Qian said they have gotten into a new industry but they are enjoying it. She noted there has been a lot of hard work so far and a lot of “blood, sweat and money” poured into their new venture.

Qian and Wu, who reside in LaSalle, said they had a soft opening Aug. 4 and recently participated in a vintage tasting on Pelee Island.

Jean Qian, co-owner of Vivace Estate Winery, stands with some of the wines that are offered.

Jean Qian, co-owner of Vivace Estate Winery, stands with some of the wines that are offered.

“I was very happy to join the region and the EPIC wines association,” she said. “I’ve received very good support from the wineries here.”

Qian said she is a wine lover and they offer a variety of wines at Vivace Estate Winery. She said they want to keep some of the wines familiar to those who came to D’Angelo Estate Winery and also want to expose Canadian ice wine to the Chinese market.

“That is my goal,” she said. “I will try to do it.”

Feedback has been positive so far, Qian added, as people “are happy to see a new brand here.” They are open seven days per week from 12-5 p.m.

The name Vivace came from her daughter’s piano book, she added, and that a marketing plan is still being developed. An official grand opening has not yet been announced.

Their phone number is 519-997-2576 and they can be found on the web at Their e-mail address is