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Niagara wine and food shine in ‘Pair It Forward’ campaign


Niagara Region, Ont. – Local wineries are pairing their beverages with local food in the LCBO’s recent “Pair It Forward” marketing campaign.

In a video advert, Karen Whitty, owner of 13th Street Winery, is seen introducing the campaign from a vineyard.

“We all need to do our part to rebuild Ontario, so we’re starting a chain reaction of support across the province by taking what we make and pairing it with what our neighbours make,” she says.

In the online-driven effort, the St. Catharines winery chose to pair its Gamay Noir with a panzanella salad and walnut sour dough from Con Gusto Bakery.

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From there, Con Gusto recommended In the Smoke, and they in turn recommend oddBar, a spinoff of Justin Duc and Scott White’s oddBird, with a focus on pizza and craft beer — all located in St. Catharines.

Giovani Stanziano opened Con Gusto in 2006, starting the bakery with a sourdough starter made from Niagara grapes. He’s known Whitty since she was a local producer.

“Karen had this little market at the corner of Seventh and Fourth (avenues) and she sold my bread,” Stanziano said.

Built on growing aspirations, strong working relationships like theirs are crucial to survival, says Stanziano.

“This is the first time I’ve ever been asked to be a part of a campaign like this, I probably wouldn’t have known the need prior,” he said.

Nate Young of In the Smoke said the campaign is a fantastic idea.

He recommends trying In the Smoke’s pulled pork on a brioche bun from Con Gusto.

At oddBar, sausage from In the Smoke is used for their ever-evolving selection of pizzas.

“It’s a nice salt-and-pepper sausage,” Young said. The garlic in it is blanched six times to take away the residual harshness while still delivering on flavour.

“Everything that Nate does is pretty much perfect. He’s one of the best chefs in the area,” said Justin Duc of oddBar.

Right now, In the Smoke’s sausage can be found mixed into the toppings on their “Kalamazoo” Detroit-style pizza, that Duc recommends pairing with a craft IPA beer from Niagara Falls-based Counterpart Brewing.

At 13th Street, Whitty said the campaign has had a positive impact on their business, and their target sales at the LCBO are up slightly.

Whitty said the momentum should be carried forward into the next steps in rebuilding Ontario’s economy.

“I just think that when you promote or help your neighbour, it just multiplies that much quicker than trying to do it on our own separately,” Whitty said.

Other Niagara wineries that participated in the campaign include: Bachelder Niagara in Beamsville; Cave Spring Cellars in Jordan Station; Reif Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake; Megalomaniac and John Howard Cellars in Vineland; Tawse Winery in Vineland; Henry of Pelham Estate in St. Catharines; and Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Distillery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

You can see those wineries’ “Pair It Forward” recommendations by visiting www.lcbo.com/content/lcbo/en/homepage/pair-it-forward.html.