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Drink Wine Day is every day at Norman Hardie Winery

By Dariya Baiguzhiyeva [1] and Leah Den Hartogh [2]

WELLINGTON – Every day is National Drink Wine Day [3] for the staff at the Norman Hardie Winery [4], but for the rest of Canada that day is Saturday.

According to the winery’s sales and marketing manager, Claude Arsenault, the staff are encouraged to drink wine and share it with their guests daily.

But on Saturday they are going to make a special day out of the national celebration: “We’ll make sure to have a bonfire … and be extra welcoming to anyone who crosses the door,” she said.

The event lands on the Family Day long weekend, which according to Arsenault is one of the busier weekends of the year for Norman Hardie.

The staff still have fun during those busy weekends, celebrating with a glass of wine at the end of the day, she said.

“No matter how hard we work here we always have fun, we always do it respectfully, and we are friends at the end of the day and have a glass of wine together.”

When harvest time comes around in mid-September, the entire staff work together to get the crop in and start that year’s wines. Everyone who works at the winery finds themselves helping in the fields and in the winemaking process, she said.

The company sells 15 different wines in any given year, all of them Vintners Quality Alliance [5] certified. That means that they are made from 100-per-cent Ontario-grown grapes, zero water has been added and the wine meets a quality standard.

Arsenault said she doesn’t have a favourite wine, adding that there is the “right wine for every occasion.”

The Montreal native had always wanted to work at a winery, and started at Norman Hardie by volunteering for a weekend three years ago. She never left.

“You cannot be a winemaker, you cannot work in wine, if you are not passionate. I think it’s fascinating to see the work that goes into it, but also feel that I have an impact on the finished product,” Arsenault said.

“Everyone who works here lives and breathes wine.”

The owner of the vineyard, Norman Hardie, produced his first wine in 2003. The company is best-known for its pinot noir and chardonnay. Hardie is known by his workers as the “pinot maker” because it’s his favourite type of wine.

Norman Hardie is one of 34 wineries in Prince Edward County. Having so many of them creates a community-like environment, competitive but friendly, Arsenault said. The small distance among wineries encourages customers to visit several at a time. If a machine breaks down at one of them, or if workers are needed, they help each other out, she said.

Norman Hardie sells its wine in over 100 restaurants in Ontario. It can also be found in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec, and in New York City, Chicago, London, Tokyo, Taiwan and Hong Kong.