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A local wine connoisseur and South American vineyard owner hopes to one day produce wine from the vine up in his own backyard.
Silvio Di Gregorio owns a vineyard in Chile, but hopes to one day convert property near the Whitewater Golf Club into a vineyard closer to home. He's recently acquired his businesses license and has started the process of getting approval from the province to move forward with those plans.
But once he has the paperwork in order there will be another serious obstacle to overcome -- Northwestern Ontario weather.
“What we’re looking at doing is creating a new variety of grapes and vines,” he said. “We’ve been in consultation with three research institutes including some from the DNA department here at Lakehead University. We’re hoping with the group we have together that we may be able to create a grape variety that can grow here.”
Grape varieties that are now available to Di Gregorio cannot handle the frigid temperatures of this region.
About nine years ago, Di Gregorio started importing wine from Chile and a few years later purchased a vineyard in the country. But he's always wanted to make and bottle wine locally.
Di Gregorio suspects at best residents won't be able to pair his local wine with their food for at least another three or four year.
But if he is eventually successful, Di Gregorio believes a Northwest vineyard will be a perfect addition to the area's already-established agricultural scene.
“The vineyard is the foundation of the concept,” he said. “We would see hosting activities like wine tasting, wine tours and harvest tours. I think there’s an opportunity for that type of agritourism."
Di Gregorio added that wine making is new to Ontario and the closest successful winery east to the city is Barrie, Ont.
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