Wolfhead Distillery

Two Amherstburg businesses win Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber BEA awards



By Ron Giofu


Two businesses from Amherstburg captured Business Excellence Awards (BEAs) at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Awards.

The Dan Gemus Real Estate Team won the Professional of the Year category, beating out naturopathic doctor Meighan Valero and AM800 radio host Lisa Williams.

“It’s such an honour to have received the ‘Professional of the Year’ award. Being nominated with Dr. Meg Valero and Lisa Williams an old co-worker of mine at AM800 was amazing! Both of them so deserving in their own rights.”

Gemus said he was “humbling” to be nominated.

“It’s all still a bit of a blur,” he said.

Dan Gemus, surrounded by his real estate team, won Professional of the Year” at the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. (Submitted photo)

Gemus added he is thankful for his friends, family, team and clients for the honour.

The award was presented last Wednesday night at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts in Windsor.

Wolfhead Distillery won the award for New Business of the Year, with other nominees being Exodus Escape Rooms and Thrive Benefits Group Inc.

Larry Girard, executive chef and vice president at Wolfhead, said they had no idea they were going to win the award.

“It’s a great feeling of achievement,” said Girard. “It was an important award for us.”

Girard, who is partners with Tom and Sue Manherz at Wolfhead, credited the staff and said they empower their employees at Wolfhead.

“Our team carries the ball for us,” he said.

Larry Girard and Sue Manherz from Wolfhead Distillery accept the New Business of the Year Award. (photo by John Liviero,

Girard added that most of their products, upwards of 85 per cent, is local and said “we can’t expect them to support us if we don’t support them. The only way we can be sustainable is if everyone supports local.” On the restaurant side, everything is free and on the alcohol side, they are piling up awards including eight at the recent competition in California.

Smashed Apple Catering Inc. was the third finalist from Amherstburg. However, Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast won in the Tourism and Hospitality Award. The other nominee was Food & Beverage (F&B).

The complete list of award winners was:

Mid-Size Company of the Year Award – Sponsored by RBC Royal Bank

Baron Championship Rings


New Business of the Year Award – Sponsored by EPICentre, University of Windsor

Wolfhead Distillery Inc.


Believe Windsor Essex Award – Sponsored by WFCU Credit Union

Michael Schlater, CEO, Domino’s Pizza of Canada


Innovation Award – Sponsored by Union Gas

Inspire HUB Technologies Inc.


Small Company of the Year Award – Sponsored by Families First

Forest Glade Tecumseh Veterinary Professional Corporation


Pillars of our Community Award – Sponsored by Motor City Community Credit Union

Transition to Betterness


Young Professional of the Year Award – Sponsored by Libro Credit Union

Dr. Abby Jakob, Optometrist/Owner, EYES Optometry


ATHENA Award – Sponsored by BELL

Pat Soulliere, President, Soulliere Financial Group


Tourism & Hospitality Award – Sponsored by Caesars Windsor and OLG

The Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast


Professional of the Year Award – Sponsored by TD Bank Group

Dan Gemus, Owner/Broker of Record, Dan Gemus Real Estate Team


Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Sponsored by St. Clair College

Vince Schiller, Owner/President, Southwestern Manufacturing


Large Company of the Year Award – Sponsored by BMO Bank of Montreal



Wolfhead wins numerous awards at recent competition


By Jonathan Martin


Wolfhead Distillery has sipped from the cup of victory.

The local spirits manufacturer snagged eight awards at the 2018 American Distilling Institute’s (ADI) annual Judging of Craft Spirits.

ADI is the oldest and largest organization of small-batch, independently-owned distillers in the United States. Each year, the organization accepts entries from distillers, blenders, bitters-makers and producers of aperitif and fortified wines.

According to ADI’s information package, the drinks are tasted blind and have both the package and the spirit itself evaluated by a judges’ panel made up of distillers, journalists, bar owners, bartenders, retailers, wholesalers, distributors and importers.

Tom Manherz and the team at Wolfhead Distillery won eight awards at the 2018 American Distilling Institute’s (ADI) annual Judging of Craft Spirits.

This year, Wolfhead Distillery walked away with a bronze for its banana caramel vodka, a bronze for its grapefruit vodka; its vodka won both best of category and the gold medal; its whiskey won both a bronze and a best of category; and its coffee liqueur won both a bronze and best of category.

This isn’t the first time Wolfhead has received awards, according to owner Tom Manherz.  Last year, the distillery was honoured at both the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the SIP awards.

“We’re very lucky,” Manherz said.  “Very fortunate.”

This is, however, the first time Wolfhead has entered into ADI’s competition.  Manherz said receiving recognition from the institute is a high honour.

“We have a really great team (at Wolfhead),” he said.  “It feels really good to have all their hard work acknowledged.”

As Wolfhead builds its reputation, Manherz said it’s also expanding its reach.  He said the distillery has just received approval to sell its product in California, which secures a foothold in the United States.  Manherz said that has been a goal of his for a while now. At this time, Wolfhead’s spirits is also being sold in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

“It’s been going really great,” Manherz said.  “Way better than I anticipated.  Thank you to the community for helping (Wolfhead) get to where we are.”




Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce awards feature three Amherstburg finalists


By Ron Giofu


The Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce will be hosting its 28th annual Business Excellence Awards (BEA) in the spring and Amherstburg will be well represented.

Three Amherstburg businesses have been nominated for awards, with the winners to be announced April 18 at Caesars Windsor.

Dan Gemus, owner/broker with the Dan Gemus Real Estate Team was nominated in the Professional of the Year category. Other nominees include naturopathic doctor Meighan Valero and AM800 radio host Lisa Williams.

Tourism & Hospitality Award finalists include Amherstburg’s Smashed Apple Catering Inc. with other nominees including Food & Beverage (F&B) and the Iron Kettle Bed & Breakfast.

Wolfhead Distillery was nominated in the New Business of the Year category, along with Exodus Escape Rooms and Thrive Benefits Group Inc.

“I’m so honoured to have been nominated. When I received the news a couple months ago that I had been nominated it seemed a little surreal at the time! Being at the news conference (last Wednesday) and hearing my name announced as a finalist was incredible!” said Gemus. “Being nominated along side Dr. Meighan Valero and an old AM800 co-worker and friend Lisa Williams is very humbling. All the nominees are so deserving. It will make for a fun night in April!”

Sue Manherz, co-owner of Wolfhead Distillery with husband Tom, said they were “quite surprised and honoured” to be nominated.

“We are up against a couple great companies and wish them the best of luck as well,” said Manherz. “We have a great team here at Wolfhead and none of this would be possible without everybody’s hard work and passion for what we have created. With the support of not only local residents but out-of-town people, they have helped put Wolfhead on the map and we are excited to see what the future brings us.  Being nominated for New Business of the Year is very humbling and rewarding and we strive to keep things moving in the right direction!”

Bill Deslippe, owner/chef at Smashed Apple, noted it was their second time being nominated for a Windsor-Essex BEA.

“We are hustling out here for Amherstburg. These are our roots and everything we do is a reflection of our amazing town and the people living here. We are proud to represent and hope to take home the win this year,” said Deslippe. “Having said that, we are in the same category as our friends and fellow talented business owners Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast and F&B Walkerville. We couldn’t have asked for a better compliment than to be placed in the same category as these innovative, talented and skilled business owners. At the risk of sounding ridiculous, being compared to these greats feels like a win already for Smashed Apple, we are doing it right! We are going in proud and humbled for the nomination, but come the night of the awards, we want to take it home!”

Award recipients will be announced during a gourmet dinner and show. Tickets are on sale now at www.windsoressexchamber.org.

Award recipients announced in advance include:


Believe Windsor Essex Award

Michael Schlater, CEO, Domino’s Pizza of Canada



Patricia Soulliere, President & CEO, Soulliere Financial


The full list of 2018 BEA Finalists include:


Entrepreneur of the Year Award Finalists

Radu Bogdanel, President, Fulger Transport Inc.

Ernie Nesbitt, Owner, Jose’s Bar and Grill

Vince Schiller, Owner, Southwestern Manufacturing


Professional of the Year Award Finalists

Dan Gemus, Owner/Broker of Record, Dan Gemus Real Estate Team

Dr. Meighan Valero, Naturopathic Doctor, Meighan Valero Naturopathic Professional Corporation

Lisa Williams, Radio Host – AM800 The Morning Drive, Bell Media / AM800


Young Professional of the Year Award Finalists

Dr. Maxwell Abraham, Orthodontist, Owner, Abraham Orthodontics

Dr. Abby Jakob, Optometrist/Owner of EYES Optometry, EYES Optometry

Dr. Jackie Vandereerden, Doctor, South Walkerville Medical Centre


Small Company of the Year Award Finalists

Anchor Coffee House Inc.

Forest Glade Tecumseh Veterinary Professional Corporation

Sentry Windows & Doors


Mid-Size Company of the Year Finalists

Baron Championship Rings

Flexible Industrial Solutions

Kinder Academy


Large Company of the Year Finalists


Fortis Group

Highbury Canco Corporation


Innovation Award Finalists

Inspire HUB Technologies Inc.

K3D Inc.

Ro-Matt International Inc.


Tourism & Hospitality Award Finalists

Food & Beverage (F&B)

The Iron Kettle Bed and Breakfast

Smashed Apple Catering Inc.


New Business of the Year Award Finalists

Exodus Escape Rooms

Thrive Benefits Group Inc.

Wolfhead Distillery Inc.


Pillars of our Community Award

Assisted Living Southwestern Ontario

Transition to Betterness

Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society



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.

Second Chance Animal Rescue’s “Dinner at the Distillery” held to sold out crowd



By Ron Giofu


Second Chance Animal Rescue’s fundraising dinner brought a packed house to Wolfhead Distillery.

The first-ever “Dinner at the Distillery” brought in a sold out crowd of roughly 75 people for dinner with the evening also featuring silent auctions and raffles.

Cherie Smith, president of Second Chance Animal Rescue, said it was an opportunity for the group to raise funds to support their operations.

“We rescue animals and adopt them throughout Windsor-Essex County,” she said.

Julie Bortolotti of Second Chance Animal Rescue (left) greets Grace, the rescue dog adopted by Sam Manherz, during “Dinner at the Distillery.”

Smith added they also rescue animals from “kill shelters” in Quebec, Ohio, Texas and Georgia. Animals are treated by veterinarians including being spayed and neutered. When an animal is ready to be adopted, it is placed into a foster home before it is adopted. Smith noted there are reference and background checks done to all people looking to adopt.

Second Chance Animal Rescue tries to hold two dinners per year as well as other fundraising events in order to fund themselves, as it is a non-profit organization. As part of last Thursday night’s dinner, attendees got a chance to meet the dog Grace, who is cared for by the Manherz family. Sam Manherz, daughter of Wolfhead owners Sue and Tom Manherz, brought the dog to the dinner where the public got a chance to see her.

Fundraising events like “Dinner at the Distillery” also gave them a chance to educate people on how to care for animals and what Second Chance Animal Rescue is all about. Second Chance Animal Rescue was founded in 2015 “to heal, help and re-home pets of all ages and size” with their mission being “to provide the necessary veterinary care for animals in need and to place animals into homes where they will be treated with love and respect.”

For more on Second Chance Animal Rescue, visit www.scarescue.org or www.facebook.com/scarsecondchanceanimalrescue. They also have a Twitter site found by searching @scarescue.