In a vineyard ceremony at the home family farm, Chris Van de Laar was officially inducted as 2018 Grape King on September 12.
“We are thrilled to have Chris serve as the 2018 Grape King and act as the ambassador for our industry for the next year,” said Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO) chair, Matthias Oppenlaender. “The Van de Laar family have more than 60 years of grape growing experience, and the industry will benefit from Chris’s involvement.”
The title of Grape King carries the distinction of being chosen based on vineyard management and knowledge of the industry. He will represent Ontario’s grape and wine industry at events across the country, starting with the Mayor’s Grape Stomp on September 22ndand in the 67thannual Grande Parade on September 29that the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.
The selection of a Grape King is part of Ontario’s history and an annual tradition that dates back to 1956. While the regalia has changed from a crown and cape, the King wears a chain that carries the names of all predecessors including Chris’s father, 1985 Grape King Peter Van de Laar.
The original Van de Laar family farm on the Niagara Parkway was purchased in 1952 by Chris’s grandparents, Dutch immigrants Peter and Catherine. The family fruit market, in operation for 66 years, is well-known for selling high-quality local produce. Peter was a pioneer in the grape industry having planted some of the first vinifera varietals in the area.
Since buying the farm in 2005, Chris has purchased three additional properties and now farms more than 110 acres of premium grapes that go into Arterra Wines Canada’s Inniskillin and Jackson Triggs brands.
Chris and his high-school sweetheart Laura have a daughter, Erica, who is in her final year of Law School at Western University. Son Nathan may follow in the family farming tradition.
Source: Grape Growers of Ontario website