Winners from the 2008 Challenge




Grand Award Winner: Taylor Thompson

2nd place: Ramesh Srinivasan

3rd place: Sarah Goddard

4th place:  Michael Pinkus

5th place:  Julien Vincent



1st place (tie):  Norman Hardy

1st place (tie):  Ross Willness 



1st place (tie): Paul Pender

1st place (tie):  William Predhomme



1st place: Jonathan Kay

2nd place (tie): Peter Ledwinka

2nd place (tie):  Erin Norton 

4th place: Thomas Ingram

5th place:  Jonathan Salem-Wiseman


The Renaissance ProjectTM raises a glass to all participants, volunteers and sponsors who made last year's Challenge the best yet.



Prize List for 2008


Confirmed Prizes ...

Tawse Winery

Cash awards towards winners trips and education ($10,000.00)

Colio Estate Winery

Colio is pleased to offer a one night stay for two (one room) at Casino Windsor (Saturday only) including dinner for two at the casino. This prize also includes a private barrel room tasting with Colio winemaker Tim Reilly on the Saturday at the winery in Harrow.

Henry of Pelham Family Estate WineryJoin the Speck brothers for a four hour, educational eco-tour of the historic Henry of Pelham vineyards on the Shirt Hills Bench of the Niagara Peninsula, followed by an in depth tasting of developing, finished and aged wines in their brand new barrel cellar. This is a unique opportunity to learn how tradition and innovation are combined to produce consistently high quality wines in a manner consistent with the Sustainable Winemaking Ontario initiative. Prior booking is necessary to ensure availability of the winery principals.

B&W Wines

TRIP:  AUSTRALIA - Visit the Vineyards of Southern Australia. Arranged through B&W wines.

Charton Hobbs

TRIP:  Champagne, FRANCE for two.  Date to be decided by mutual agreement. 

Huff Estates

Two nights stay for the winner of this prize in a premiere suite at "The Inn at Huff Estates".  The winner plus a guest will also enjoy a VIP wine tasting plus dinner at the "Harvest Restaurant".

Joseph Drouhin

L' Elégance Naturelle

Des Grands Bourgognes


TRIP:  Pacific Wine and Spirits will be partnering with their newest member from their roster of Ontario producers - Joseph Drouhin of Burgundy, France for a trip to their winery in Burgundy. Two nights accommodation in Beaune, a VIP tour of the Drouhin cellars including a technical tasting and tour of selected vineyards (to include Montrachet and Clos des Mouches). Prize also includes dinner for two at a Michelin starred restaurant in Beaune. 

Airfare to be provided by Pacific Wine and Spirits. 

Cave Spring Cellars Ltd.One nights accommodation at the Jordan House (contemporary room), plus an enhanced continental breakfast at On The Twenty Restaurant and a complimentary Tour and Tasting.
Norman Hardie Winery and VineyardA VIP winery tour, tasting and luncheon for the winner of this prize plus NINE of your guests!  Yes, ten people will enjoy this exclusive opportunity to tast, tour and eat at the Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard in lovely Prince Edward County.

Via Allegro

Via Allegro is one of the founding four partners and producer of this prestigious competition. They have generously invested in the development of the competition from its inception four years ago.

Also, Via Allegro continues to offer yearly cash awards to the winners to be used towards furthering their wine education. In addition, all winners receive gift certificates for an exceptional multi course dining experience at Via Allegro ($10,000.00 +).

SpiegelauOne of the founding four partners. Spiegelau stemware to all winners. ($6,000) For the Grand Award Winner prize: $1,000 to be used towards travel expenses plus an invitation to the factory for a personal tour. Spiegelau also provides all Expert Tasting Glasses for the day of the competition


The LCBO has generously donated 6 pairs of tickets:

Three pairs of tickets to special events & tutored tastings.

Three pairs of tickets to a VINTAGES Event.

VINCOR Canada - A Constellation Company

The Ultimate VINCOR Experience

Jackson-Triggs Niagara Estate Winery: Enjoy a progressive tasting dinner at the winery for two (Savour the Sights); a private tour with the winemaker, Marco Piccoli; followed by an overnight stay for two at a Four Star Hotel Property.

Le Close Jordanne:  Spend a day with Thomas Bachelder, Winemaker at Le Clos Jordanne in lovely Jordan, Ontario. Experience winemaking alongside the man Tony Aspler describes as having "... established himself as the top Pinot Noir producer in Canada." Tour includes a barrel tasting and visit to the vineyards.

Inniskillin Wines Inc.: The next morning you'll take a tour and private Riedel Icewine tasting at Inniskillin Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Peninsula Ridge Estates Winery

Enjoy six bottles of Sauvignon Blanc - each signed by winemaker, Jean Pierre Colas.  (Three Single Vineyard; One Fume Blanc 2006 and two from the 2007 vintage.)  The winner will also have the opportunity to attend a private tour and tasting for two at Peninsula Ridge.

Vineland Estates WineryVineland Estates Winery is happy to support the front line hospitality service staff by providing a unique Chef's Creative Menu dinner at the award-winning Vineland Estates Winery Restaurant. The winner of this prize and three guests will enjoy a special multi course meal expertly paired with Vineland Estates wines. We will make this a night to celebrate your achievement at the Challenge.
James Chatto


Two people are invited to join Toronto Life's restaurant critic and author on a review of one of Toronto's restaurants.  Share the insights, critical techniques and tall tales of a professional restaurant-goer.  Date to be decided by mutual agreement.  Also included will be a copy of James Chatto's latest book.

Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

TRIP:  Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac is inviting the lucky recipient of this prize and a guest to Quebec City's first ever Wine Festival.  This premier event is not to be missed.  You and your guest will enjoy a four night VIP stay at the Chateau Frontenac during the three day Festival. The package includes two full passes to the festival and a pair of passes to one of the exclusive VIP wine events held in the historic hotel.

Wine Festival Date:  March 13-15, 2009

Donald ZiraldoSpend an incredible day at the Icewine harvest with the legendary Donald Ziraldo, co-founder of Inniskillin Winery.  Share the day, learn from the insights of one of Canada's most prolific visionaries.  The winner will also receive a signed copy of his new book "Icewine: Extreme Winemaking".
Rosehall Run WineryThe winner plus three guests will enjoy a gourmet lunch in the barrel cellar of Rosehall Run along with a barrel tating with Winemaker Dan Sullivan. Finish off your day in Prince Edward County with a dinner for four at a top "County" restaurant.

Barrique Wine Imports Ltd. & VinVino

TRIP:  ITALY for Two  Trip includes airfare, car and accommodations at the Casetello di Querceto Castle.  A trip of a lifetime!

Halpern EnterprisesTRIP:  Five days in Tuscany touring the famous Antinori Vineyards.  Taste the wines - enjoy the food while staying in the private residences of the Antinori family.
The Vine - Robert Groh Agency

A Magnum of Groth 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville, Napa.

Wayne Gretzky Estates

A gift certificate for four (4) to enjoy a three course meal and a bottle of wine.  Your dinner will conclude with a tasting of our famous dessert wines and a corkscrew to remember your No.99 experience.

Wayne Gretzky EstatesA wine crate gift including one signed bottle of wine, plus one other bottle of wine, golf shirt, hat, corkscrew, 2 wine glasses and a gift certificate for a tasting of WGE for you and nine friends! (3 premium wines each).
Wine Council of Ontario To the VQA Champion at this years Challenge will be a getaway for two to Canada's largest wine appellation - Niagara Peninsula.  The getaway includes: Two night's deluxe accommodation in Niagara (including breakfast each morning). Dinner to Two. Lunch for Two. Ground Transportation. VIP Winery Tours and Tastings AND a collection of wine from Niagara's sub-appellations.





Via Allegro:
is one of the founding four partners and producer of this prestigious competition. They have generously invested in the development of the competition from its inception four years ago.

Via Allegro:
supplies all trophies, plaques, and awards paraphernalia.
The Grand Awards Luncheon is hosted annually at Via Allegro - Priceless

Toronto Life Magazine: One of the founding four partners of this prestigious competition. Pre and post advertising and coverage of the event.

University: One of the founding four partners. Website, registration, overseeing protocol and auditing of the event are all under the direction of the Cool Climate Oenology & Viticulture Institute (CCOVI).

: One of the founding four partners. All Expert Tasting Glasses for the day of the competition graciously provided by Spiegelau.

Four Seasons Hotel:
Venue for competition and event day support. Food graciously provided by Truffles restaurant.


NOTE: All prizes are subject to change without notice. All prizes are non-transferable.