First Urban Wine Festival Successfully Knocks It Out of Lanspeary Park

(Windsor Eats co-owner Adriano Ciotoli speaking with people at a wine booth during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo above by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.)

For those wondering about the best music to go with a South African Pinot Grigio, those attending Windsor’s first Urban Wine Festival at Lanspeary Park’s ice rink structure would probably agree on a little Apropos.

Apropos performing at the Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario.

American recording star Apropos performing during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

It turns out Apropos, otherwise known as Austin Dunsen, former front man of Detroit’s Soul Divide, is the Motor City’s newest international recording artist. Known to some as the new voice of Motown, he was the main music attraction at Saturday night’s running of the newly minted festival. During his set he played all songs from his recorded in London, England album “(Verse)atility” which was released last November.

Pinot Grigio Booth at the Urban Wine Festival

Stan Burke holding a bottle of the Vinecrafter, a popular South African Chenin Blanc at the Pinot Grigio booth at the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Dunsen believes his stage name accurately describes his interest in multiple genres from rock, to rhythm, to blues. While this might make it hard to peg his sound, given the wide range of age groups attracted to the Festival, he certainly offered something for everyone and did it in a manner that created quite a few dancing feet.

Pelee Island Winery retail manager holding a bottle of the popular Lola

Pelee Island Winery retail manager holding a bottle of the popular Lola, available in seven varieties, at the Cabernet Frank booth during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

The Urban Wine Festival itself, was equally generous in its offerings and judging by the packed house, organizer Adriano Ciotolio, of Windsor Eats, has another success on his hands. He was more than ecstatic of city resident’s receptiveness for a local summer wine festival and told Eyes on Windsor his goal was to present a different type of event.

David McNair of Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery

David McNair, (right) of Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, serving Riesling samples during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

First the location was a strategic decision. Ciotolio wanted to be as close to the geographic centre of the city to benefit from all manner of transportation. Another innovation, money was nowhere to be seen. Using the services of Token Mobile, visitors to the Festival used their phones to make purchases, buying tokens electronically in advance.

Urban Wine Festival Bandstand Decorated in Colourful Streamers

Multi-colour streamers decorate the bandstand during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Next, he wanted to avoid having his stands represent different wineries. So, he set up eight different stands each offering a different flavour of wine from Reisling to Merlot and a full selection in between, each distinguished by their varietal credentials.

It certainly worked with festival goers able to taste a variety of wines from various local and foreign wineries on each stop along the row of stands, picking their favourites along the way.

Windsor Eats sign promoting Beer Made With Wine

A sign directing Urban Wine Festival patrons to the Windsor Eats booth where beer made with wine was available for purchase on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

And what is wine without a little beer? Manning the Windsor Eats stand, Lori Hunter was kept more than busy pulling a hybrid combination of Merlot and beer, put together by the collective souls at Via Italia’s popular MotorBurger restaurant and Motor Craft Ales craft brewery.

Food was a big part of the gathering with Walkerville’s Wineology serving its brand of wood-fired pizza while the Road Chef food truck put its offerings up a notch offering not only its famous mozza bombs but also the very well received Lobster Arancini and Truffle Fries.

And there was art. Windsor’s Art Lab was on hand offering visitors the opportunity to create their own interactive drawings on the Lanspeary rink’s side walls, under the direction of art teacher Eugenio Mendoza.

Artist Eugenio Mendoza

Artist Eugenio Mendoza, an instructor from The Art Lab Windsor, painting during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Detroit rapper Jacinto Herrera was also on hand. His music, he told Eyes On Windsor, has grown out of his own experiences, challenges and vulnerabilities which has produced a highly personable treatment of the genre.

Rapper Jacinto Herrera

Rapper Jacinto Herrera performing during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

Added to the décor of the Festival were displays of t-shirts and signs with cute double entendre wine messages. An example, “wine a bit, you’ll feel better.”

Those who attended certainly found that to be true, the event had the best of wine, food and music. It is a tough combination to bring together, but Ciotolo, succeeded in spades. And although it was a success, he was seen keeping a close eye on the proceedings. With what he saw, he will iron out a few bugs – that he says he found, although certainly not obvious – and present it all over again next year. It certainly will be a unique festival well worth attending.

People sampling wine at the Urban Wine Festival

A group of happy people sitting at a table sampling wine during the inaugural Urban Wine Festival in Windsor, Ontario’s Lanspeary Park on Saturday, June 29, 2019. Photo by Robert Tuomi / Eyes On Windsor.

The full list of vintages that were on offer can be found at https://www.windsoreats.com/2019/06/the-official-wine-list-for-the-2019-urban-wine-festival-in-windsor-on/

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Robert Tuomi

Article by Robert Tuomi

For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.