About two weeks ago, I spoke about my new novel, The Western Light, at Wine and Words in Niagara-on-the Lake. The event was sponsored by the Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library and held at the glamorous Tasting Bar in the Konzelmann Estate Winery, which is known for its ice wines. After I talked, everyone there drank a Pinot Gris from the Konzelman grapes and sampled four different elegant hors’ d’oeuvres. Many of the large audience had already read my book, a true plus for authors. I also loved the relaxing eat drink and be literary atmosphere. Today my blog features Beth Ann Labelle who started the series and Bruno Reis, a spokesman for Konzelmann who hosted my event.
Q: Beth Ann, you’ve created a popular reading series that rivals anything that other Canadian libraries put on–how did you do this?
A: We wanted to stand apart from other series and offer people a distinct experience. We are fortunate in Niagara-on-the-Lake to be surrounded by so many wineries because of the lush agricultural land. Partnering with the Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake gave us a variety of unique venues to host our events. (The series goes to a different local winery for each author.) Not only can people hear acclaimed Canadian writers discuss their work, they can also discover the many wines our region has to offer. As a library we have the advantage of knowing what the public is reading and which authors would be most appealing to our community.
Q: What is your mandate?
A: Our mandate is to connect readers with authors. Libraries are all about promoting ideas, whatever form that takes. If we can introduce a reader to new ideas or experiences through the written word then we have done our jobs.
Q: Your library claims to have been expanding minds since the 1800’s. Why did it decide to link up with the wineries?
A: Founded in 1800, Niagara-on-the-Lake Public Library was Upper Canada’s first circulating library. In 1805 the library began to house the specialized works of the Niagara Agricultural Society. So the partnership between the library and the agricultural sector has been long established. But it wasn’t until the creation of Wine & Words that we stepped out of the library and took advantage of the beautiful venues and gracious hospitality of the town’s wineries.
Q: Bruno, you work for Konzelmann Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. Haven’t the Konzelmanns been making European wine growers for centuries?
A: That’s true. The Konzelmann family came over from Stuttgart, Germany and bought this forty-acre property in 1987. The soil here is perfect for growing Burgundy or Alsatian wine. It’s fresher and has more minerals than the soil for this kind of grape in Europe. Then too, we are near Lake Ontario and it’s always warmer by the lake. The temperature can be minus 12 or 13 but we never get minus 18 or 20. The warmer temperatures are ideal for making ice wine.
Q: And for making Gewurtztraminer. I’m sipping some of your wine as we speak. Are your wines available at the LCBO?
A: Twelve of our wines are available in liquor stores. The bigger stores always carry our brand.
Q: Bruno, what is it about wine and books? Why are they such a good combination?
A: To make wine is odd or unusual. It’s the same thing with writing books. Or maybe a better way of saying this is that you have to be a unique person to do either. And then there’s nothing better, when you sit by your fireplace and read a good book drinking a glass of good wine.