Niagara College graduate becomes first female winemaker at school’s Teaching Winery

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Published September 12, 2022 at 11:23 am

Allison Findlay, who graduated from the college's Winery and Viticulture Technician program 2014, is returning to her alma mater as head winemaker at the Niagara College Teaching Winery.

A Niagara College graduate is returning to the school’s winery program, this time as the first-ever female winemaker.

Allison Findlay, who graduated from the college’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program 2014, is returning to her alma mater as winemaker at the Niagara College Teaching Winery on the Niagara-on-the-Lake campus.

She will be replacing former winemaker Gavin Robertson, also a Niagara College alum, who has accepted a full-time faculty position.

Findlay, originally from Dryden in north-west Ontario, currently lives in Grimsby and has plenty of experience in the industry since her graduation.

She was most recently head winemaker at Flat Rock Cellars in nearby Jordan, where she honed her craft producing award-winning wines – including a Best in Show at the 2022 Decanter World Wine Awards.

“I have felt at home here since I first toured the campus on a freezing February afternoon in 2012,” she said. “I have had such a wonderful career so far in the Ontario wine industry and cannot wait to share my experience and passion with the students.”

“Education, for me, is at the forefront, demonstrating different winemaking styles and techniques, all while mentoring students,” added Findlay.

For his part, Robertson was happy to pass the torch to Findlay, whom he known personally from their years in the business.

“She’s open-minded and creative with the right personality for making wine in our unique Learning Enterprise context where commercial winemaking goals have to align with academic programming in a way that fosters a safe, fun and engaging learning environment for future generations of Canadian winemakers and viticulturalists,” said Robertson of Findlay.

“She’s an amazing addition to the winemaking team at the Teaching Winery and to our beverage programs, and I look forward to working closely with her to help students learn and innovate and push the boundaries of what’s possible in the Canadian wine industry as it continues to grow and evolve.

“I know that she’ll drive the quality of our wines to new heights,” he concluded.

As for Findlay, she’s ready for the challenge.

“I am excited to blend my commercial experience with my student experience to best prepare the next generation of fermentation experts.”

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