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New chair elected to Grape Growers of Ontario

April 14, 2016  By Grape Growers of Ontario

April 14, 2016, St. Catharines, Ont – Debbie Zimmerman, CEO of the Grape Growers of Ontario (GGO), recently announced that Matthias Oppenlaender has been elected chair of the organization’s board of directors.

“It is a privilege to be elected chair of the Grape Growers of Ontario’s board of directors, and I look forward to continuing to serve and represent my fellow growers in this new role,” said Oppenlaender. “The board is focused on working with our industry partners and government to continue strengthening Ontario’s grape and wine industry.”

Matthias was born in Germany where he studied agriculture and viticulture before emigrating to Canada in 1984. Matthias, his wife Monica, and their five children live in Niagara-on-the-Lake where they farm more than 400 acres of vineyards, and own Country Tyme Vineyards and Huebel Grape Estates. Matthias was elected Grape King by his fellow grape growers in 2006, and the following year was elected to the Grape Growers of Ontario’s growers’ committee and to the board of directors. In 2009, Matthias was elected vice chair of the board, a position he held until being elected chair on April 11, 2016.


Bill Schenck, a fourth generation grape grower in St. Catharines, has been elected vice chair of the board of directors. Bill has served on the GGO growers’ committee and board since 2009, the same year he was Grape King, and represents the GGO on a number of industry committees, including the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, Niagara Region’s Agricultural Policy and Action Committee, and Brock University’s CCOVI Advisory Committee.

The board of directors includes representation from across Ontario, including Steve Pohorly and Erwin Wiens of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Jim Morrison of Lincoln, Brock Puddicombe of Winona, Debra Marshall of Prince Edward County and Scott Wilkins of Amherstburg, who are all part way through their terms as directors. Kevin Watson of Niagara-on-the-Lake has been re-elected and Doug Funk Jr. is newly elected to represent growers from the Town of Lincoln.

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