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MP Ellis raises a glass to Canadian Experiences grant funding for County winery

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
Family-owned Harwood Estate Vineyards and Winery in Hillier will establish rental accommodations with a $100,000 boost in federal funding presented on a sunny, but cold, Friday afternoon.

On behalf of Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, Bay of Quinte MP Neil Ellis, made the announcement of the investment through FedDev, Ontario’s Canadian Experiences Fund (CEF). Ellis noted Joly was in the County to announce the program in the fall, at another winery, where she kicked-off the program across Canada. CEF funding supports the creation, improvement or enhancement of tourism products, facilities and experiences.

“There is a tourism boom and I don’t need to tell anyone in the County,” said Ellis. “We all know the positive impacts of tourism and the government of Canada hopefully by unveiling this federal growth strategy called the Canadian Experiences Fund, that it helps wineries like this, the County, and the municipally in bringing tourism to the area.”

Ellis noted that about 80 per cent of national travellers chose their destination partly based on the food and the product of the County and the area.

“Harwood Estate is using the Canadian Experiences Fund to build their new cabins and on-site accommodations for visitors to the winery. Through these investments we are giving travellers even more reason to discover the Bay of Quinte and contribute to our local economy,” Ellis said. “The wineries have definitely helped put Prince Edward County on the map.”

Harwood Estate Vineyards owners Kerry Wicks and John Rode.

“We just want to say thank you very much for having faith in us, we won’t let you down,” said Kerry Wicks, president and CEO of Harwood Estate Vineyards. “We believe in rooms, we believe in accommodation; we think it will be a great addition.”

Ellis also noted an announcement earlier this week on the tourism fund for the City of Quinte West. “Hopefully we will have an announcement shortly here in Prince Edward County also on that,” said Ellis. “We have had some money come into the fund and it’s good to have it in the riding.”

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson was present for the announcement, along with a number of County councillors, including Wellington councillor Mike Harper, Hillier councillor Ernie Margetson, Bloomfield/Hallowell councillors Phil St. Jean and Phil Prinzen and Ameliasburgh councillor Janice Maynard. Lesley Lavender, executive director of the Prince Edward County Chamber of Commerce was also present.

Mayor Ferguson acknowledged the support of the federal government to support local businesses and congratulated the winery.

“We are certainly appreciative of all that the federal government does to help us grow and develop,” said Ferguson. “That investment is so important.”

The Harwood Estate Vineyards property, which runs solely on solar power, comprises 57 acres, with 20 acres planted with vines. In operation since 2007, it is Canada’s first, and only full-time production winery operating at 100 per cent solar energy.

Wicks said they are very excited about the project.

“We are very, very appreciative to have received this grant, it’s going to go a long way to help us launch the first cabin which we expect to have ready by August,” added Wicks. “For us, the whole hospitality rooms and accommodation is a big part of our long-term vision here, so this is our first step, so the grant from the government of Canada is a huge contribution to that.”

“I love the wine, I love the food, and to me, the accommodation is the final piece, so you have the whole hospitality experience,” she said.

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