Q&A With Founders of The Great Canadian Wine Challenge


Another great TGWC Logo by Calvin’s son!


We decided that we should probably give you all some background in terms of “The Great Canadian Wine Challenge” and how it came to be and what (other than air) was going through our minds at the time. We’ve answered the questions that we know you all have on your minds below, interview style.

Q1: What were you thinking when you decided to do this?
Calvin: A Long Dog Winery Otto 2007 Pinot Noir from Prince Edward Coun—Oh, sorry, I misheard you. Never mind.

Shawn: It was after 11PM and we had just finished an #ONWineChat discussion on Twitter (where we all usually open wine). I think it is safe to say we likely weren’t thinking. 🙂

Q2: How hard do you think this will be?
Shawn: I don’t think it will be that hard…but then again I haven’t ever been restricted to opening whatever I want in my cellar…so I might be surprised.

Calvin: I agree; this won’t be very difficult. I think we both drink Canadian wines by preference, and we’ve included exemptions and “wiggle room” to meet most needs.

Q3: What single wine style will you miss the most?
Calvin: German Rieslings. Especially aged, off-dry German Rieslings.

Shawn: Single? Hmm. I love Port, but I also love Zinfandel…so if I had pick one I would likely say Zinfandel, as I open it more often than I do Port. Wait. Did Calvin mention aged German Rieslings? Yeah…those too!

Q4: What do your wives think of this?
Shawn: She thinks Calvin and I are nuts (but in a good way…is that possible?).

Calvin: My wife says we’re crazy. And then she asks how it’s going!

Q5: Will you be tempted by your provincial liquor board Bordeaux futures sales? Or a great Spanish release?
Calvin: Thanks for not asking about German Rieslings, especially aged, off-dry German Rieslings.

Shawn: Tempted, yes. But given that I have almost exclusively purchased Ontario wine direct from the wineries for the last few years, I think I can manage through it.

Q6: Have you ever stuck to anything for a year?
Shawn: I once had a paper route for 2 years…

Calvin: [laughter]

Q7: What if you win a trip to the Mosel? Are all bets off then?
Calvin: Easy! [checks rules] I wouldn’t purchase or open anything non-Canadian. I cannot, however, speak for my wife….

Shawn: Thankfully we came to our senses and allowed for non-Canadian wine during international travel, or it could have been messy.

Q8: Are you guys nuts?
Shawn: I think I answered that in Q1 and Q4. I think you might be too because you keep asking the same question.

Calvin: “Objection, Your Honour: asked and answered”. See? I sometimes watch American TV while drinking Canadian wine.

Q9: How much Canadian wine do you think you’ll drink in a year?
Calvin: Lots! And what I really want is to try Canadian wines from regions I haven’t before. My personal goal is to drink coast-to-coast!

Shawn: As much as possible! I would hazard a guess at somewhere over 100 bottles. You’ll have to follow to the end of the year to see the summary.

Calvin: Oh ya, right. Thanks, Shawn. Yes, follow to the end to see how many provinces I cover.

Q10: How do you plan to get wines from three provinces?”.
Shawn: Why, through the LCBO of course. Anything else is illegal (at least that’s what our LCBO tells us).

Calvin: No, it’s not, Shawn. You know that.
I’m from the West. Let’s just leave it at that.

Q11: How hard do you think this will be?
Shawn: I thought it would be easy until we started thinking about travelling. Canadian wine is hard enough to find in Ontario, let alone the rest of the world. Thankfully we came to our senses and relaxed the rules for international travel. I think more people will participate now because of that change. I’m back to thinking that we have made it pretty easy to participate.

Calvin: Hey, haven’t you asked this already? Here, your glass is getting low. Seriously, this will be easy. When I buy wine, it will be Canadian. When I open wine, it will be Canadian. If someone else buys or opens, hopefully it will be Canadian, but if it’s not, that’s ok. And like Shawn says, travel is exempt, wine events are exempt, courses and classes, dinner invitations…there are lots of exemptions to make sure this will be easy.

Q12: How will this work?
Shawn: Well we outlined some of the “rules” on the initial post. It really is an honour system though and it is more about Canadians discovering Canadian wine. I intend to find out more about BC wine as my current view is very Ontario-centric. If you make it through the 12 months, and have engaged us regularly with your updates (as per the rules), we’ll throw your name into a hat and draw some prizes. We’ll likely make up some additional prizes at the mid-way point if we have enough swag by then. And if any of the rules are not clear or you have questions, Calvin and I are here to clear things up.

Calvin: Yep. Let us know you want to participate. Challenge yourself. Post or tweet or email about the Canadian wines that you’re drinking. Have fun. Maybe win prizes. If you want to challenge friends, or do something else to make it more fun, go for it!

Q13: Do wines from the Territories count?
Shawn: If they make them, then they count!

Calvin: I think I would want to sample before answering. [laughter]

Q14: What’s the t-shirt thing?
Shawn: Unbeknownst to people is the fact that I always wanted to be a t-shirt designer (I think Threadless.com actually stole their idea from one of my dreams). So now, I find any excuse possible to make up a new t-shirt. In fact, this whole challenge may very well have been predicated on the concept that we would have to create new t-shirts (my #Chardnado transfer starting coming off in the dryer, so I needed to do something so I wasn’t walking around bareback).

Calvin: Did he really just say “bareback”?

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3 Responses to Q&A With Founders of The Great Canadian Wine Challenge

  1. Melissa Bogaert says:

    This was super fun to read, and made me very excited for the challenge! I’m looking forward to the updates too!

  2. Pingback: Would you drink only Canadian wine for a year? | canada.com

  3. Pingback: Would you drink only Canadian wine for a year? « Vintage Direct

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