A wine poured from Niagara by Two Sisters
By Ilona Kauremszky
Take a road trip around Niagara-on-the-Lake to discover how the vinifera of Niagara’s fabled wine region takes on another aura outside the usual scene of grapes prepping for the upcoming winter ice wine season.
Blink twice too. You might think you wandered into an Italian villa.
Tucked away from the leafy Niagara Parkway on tony John Street next door to what was until recently the home of the extraordinary local artist Trisha Romance don’t be surprised if two sisters are ready to welcome you at one of the region’s newest wineries.
These days road trippers and wine lovers are making a detour there to explore the award-winning vintages of Two Sisters Vineyards, a family-run enterprise that personifies, “La Dolce Vita.”
Guests feel the earthly riches the second they drive onto the estate’s regal driveway to discover the big reveal, a palatial Palladian Renaissance-inspired building fit for a Medici. Home to the 130-acre winery, the Two Sisters Vineyards is the vision of two sisters: Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli and Angela Marotta whose connection to wines, they happily reveal, can be traced back to their Italian heritage.
“It’s an incredible passion we have sharing our love of wine, of food and all the things we love that make people happy,” starts Melissa, the Head of Marketing and Sales, and adds, “As kids our dad made wine all the time.” Their father Benny Marotta is a Toronto-area developer of Solmar Development Corporation among other companies.
Angela who is the winery’s CEO adds, “We approach our business through the eyes of a consumer to ensure they have the most memorable experience. For us it is all about producing the best quality wines. We can never skimp on that.”
In fact, a visit to Two Sisters Vineyards is sensory degustation on a grand scale. Imbibe on Italian cuisine at the winery’s Kitchen 76, of which select menu items are created from family recipes including incorporating their special extra virgin olive oil lovingly produced at the family’s olive orchard in Italy.
Then enjoy bold Bordeaux red varietals, they note, which is uncommon in the area. The climate is similar to that of the Bordeaux wine region in France. “Our intention was to grow grapes that would be optimum for the upper-tier wines,” observes Angela on the lustrous red wine varietals (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon) but adds chardonnay vines have been planted which typically grow beautifully in their Niagara terroir.
Experience curated events. The most recent was Flavours of Italy, which was a hosted dinner for exclusive Visa Infinite card holders. “It sold out within two hours,” remarks Melissa on the sold-out event.
Last summer the dynamic duo even caught the attention of daytime TV. For an episode of “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” filmed around Niagara Falls, viewers saw co-host Kelly Ripa taking her 20-year-old son Michael on a helicopter ride of rides landing at the winery’s private helipad for Michael’s ‘surprise’ birthday party. About 60 ‘friends’ basically guests visiting the winery on that day as well as co-host Ryan Seacrest and the TV production crew enjoyed a party on the patio with wining and dining in the Barrel Room.
“Happy Birthday” was sung as Angela brought out a birthday cake. “We love to do events like that for people,” she says.
The co-proprietors’ thinking-out-of-the-box abilities to create extraordinary winery experiences also has been recognized by notable institutions. In 2016 Two Sisters Vineyards won the Deloitte Start-Up Award at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards that celebrates the achievements of women in their industry. Angela says, “As women we try to juggle so much. I think at the same time as women we are very good at that. So this is basically celebrating all of us and anybody who takes that level of risk and does their best to be great decision makers, ultimately leading a team to success.”
This year Two Sisters Vineyards boasts two high achievements. The sisters were recognized at the annual BMO Celebrating Women event in Burlington for their contribution to business and the community. The WineAlign National Wine Awards of Canada also awarded their winery as the “Best Small Winery in Canada,” an award issued by one of the respected wine forums in Canada.
While both women candidly admit running a winery was never part of their career aspirations, the idea of Two Sisters Vineyards was a natural fit. Angela explains,“We like to connect with our guests and ensure they are having a great time.”
The winery welcomes weddings and is popular among out-of-town visitors. Many VIP guests from Toronto arrive by air in 15 minutes with FlyGTA, an air service with departures from Billy Bishop Airport. Two Sisters Vineyards, she notes, is the exclusive winery partner with the air service company.
“The best thing for the area is every winery offers something different. We are just adding to that diverse landscape on how we want to do it and how we want our guests to experience it,” Angela says before she dashes off to join her sister to do what they do best, welcoming their guests at the Two Sisters Vineyards for remarkable experiences.