The Winemaker : David Johnson
David’s full title is Winemaker/Grape Grower/Owner/Tractor Driver Extraordinaire – but that’s a mouthful so we just call him The Winemaker. In 2019, David was honoured to be named Winemaker of the Year by Tony Aspler’s Ontario Wine Awards.
There was a time in 2003, just after David was named The 2003 Grape King, and Featherstone was designated Vineyard of the Year, that we had to refer to him as Your Majesty. But that’s all behind us now…even though Dave is the only person to have received both a Grape King title and Winemaker of the Year.
David’s farming background and studies in agriculture at the University of Guelph have served as a base for understanding the viticultural practices involved in growing quality grapes. His international experience includes harvests in New Zealand (2007) and South Africa (2016).
The Grande Fromage : Louise Engel
As co-owner, it is Louise’s job to make sure the wine is chilled, the tasting room is restocked and your visit to Featherstone is fantastic.
Louise also comes from a rural background and studied business at the University of Guelph, where she and David met in the 1980’s. Louise runs the office, returns the emails, plans events and works on creating a welcoming atmosphere at the winery, ensuring that your visit will be memorable.
The Grape Hound : Tucker
Tucker is an essential part of the team and supervises all operations.
He is a very special breed of Niagara Escarpment Grape Hound (a.k.a. Heinz 57). Tucker is also a very friendly and sweet ‘new Canadian’, meaning that he is a rescue dog from the United States- and he hopes that if you are looking for a dog you will Adopt! Don’t Shop! His day job includes regular breaks for snoozing and as well as being on mousing duty at all times.
The Administrator : Jane Shook
Jane is Featherstone’s administrative ninja. For more than 10 years, Jane has looked after shipping & receiving, managing the office, ensuring the bills are paid, and much more. Much, much more.
Louise thinks that Jane’s actual job description should be ‘Mini-Me’ and we know too well just how lost the team would be without Jane.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice : Andrew Sullivan
Andrew is our Sorcerer’s Apprentice, which is what we call our assistant winemaker/cellar hand/vinedresser. Since 2016 Andrew has performed a variety of tasks – from pruning vines, to sheep herding to retail sales on a busy Saturday afternoon in the summer. Most importantly, Andrew has the experience and skills to craft fine wines in Featherstone’s style. Andrew has the magic touch, whether it’s driving a tractor or loading a grape press.
The Understudy: Kevin Qin
Kevin was a student in the Niagara College Winery and Viticulture program. Since 2016, Kevin has had winery and vineyard responsibilities but he also helps out in the tasting room. Heck, he even gets to feed the sheep in the fall. It’s all in day’s work at the Featherstone grape ranch. Kevin is also in charge of our wood-fired pizza oven during summer months and he makes a mean pizza crust from scratch. On Saturdays and Sundays, he creates delicious thin crust pizzas that pair beautifully with a glass of Featherstone wine. In fact, why not check out The Veranda and see what’s being served?
The Sheep Labour
Each Summer, Featherstone ’employs’ a small flock of sheep. Their job is to eat the leaves on the vines, thereby exposing the grapes to more sunlight and air circulation.
Sheep are ideally suited to the job of leaf-thinning: they are not interested in eating the tart, unripe grapes. Find out more about our eco friendly farming practices here.
The Grape Guardian: Amadeus
At Featherstone, we are responsible for our vines from the ground to the air. In order to limit the damage that nuisance birds, like starlings, cause to our grape crop, co-owner Louise Engel flies Amadeus, a Harris’s hawk, in the vineyard.
His presence, whether he is catching anything or not, serves as a noticeable deterrent to smaller birds. Find out more about falconry at Featherstone.