With a slogan like “Better a drop of the extraordinary than an ocean of the ordinary,” it’s clear that hard work and dedication has gone into a collection of wines nothing short of extraordinary.
Curtis Fielding lives with that slogan in mind every day. Before embarking on a career in the grape and wine industry, Curtis raced high-performance cars on the Canadian professional stock car circuit. The passion, dedication and team work necessary to keep a car running at its peak is a perfect parallel to Curtis’s approach at Fielding Estate Winery, a family venture where he is general manager.
After graduating from his racing career, Curtis moved from his home in Minden, Ontario to settle in Beamsville and learn his new craft. As the young vines at Fielding Estate Winery took root and began to grow, Curtis spent three years forming a solid foundation of knowledge in the grape and wine industry. He spent his days rediscovering what he learned during his time in Business Marketing at Georgian College and applying that to learning how to successfully operate a winery from vineyard to retail to management.
In the early 2000s, after three years of searching for the ideal location, the Fielding family purchased a 20-acre peach and pear orchard — with a few vines of juice grapes — on the Beamsville Bench. By the summer of 2001, the trees were removed and high-quality VQA vinifera grapes were planted. The seeds for one of Canada’s Top 10 wineries, as named by the Canadian Wine Awards in 2009, were sown.
The environmentally-friendly and unique Fielding Wine Lodge was built on the site, and opened its doors to the public in May 2005.
From the estate vineyard and an additional 40-acre vineyard in Beamsville, Curtis leads the team that produces some of Ontario’s finest VQA wines, made from grape varieties that perform best in Niagara’s unique microclimate vineyards — Riesling, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay for whites, and Pinot Noir and Merlot for reds.
“Every day is a learning process in the grape and wine industry,” says 34-year-old Curtis. “Our growing season throws challenges at us all the time and no two vintages are the same, you have to be adaptable in this complex business. There are many steps from the vineyard to pouring that can certainly keep it interesting.”
At Fielding, Curtis and his family have taken great care to be mindful of the environment, using as much natural light in the Wine Lodge as possible, utilizing a natural lagoon to treat wastewater and recycling all leftover grape stems as mulch. Curtis is also starting the three-year process to have Fielding Estate Winery recognized as an organic winery. It was noted in the Grape King judging that Curtis’s vineyard is “pristine.”
Curtis and his wife Heidi live in Beamsville with their two young sons.