‘Cork Screwed’ shines a spotlight on Niagara wines

‘Cork Screwed’ shines a spotlight on Niagara wines

‘Cork Screwed’ shines a spotlight on Niagara wines
Filming now in Niagara, new TV show follows along as 2 guys get an education in wine

By Melinda Cheevers
Jul 13, 2018
Published by Niagara This Week – St. Catharines
View Original Article
Photo Credit: Patrick Gagliardi (left) and Ralph deGroot (right) are producer-hosts of a new show, Cork Screwed, filming now in Niagara. They’ll be talking wine wtih industry insiders like Southbrook Vineyards proprietor Bill Redelmeier. 

 – Melinda Cheevers/Metroland

A new television show filming in Niagara aims to give people an education about the wine industry from an outsider’s point of view.

The two producer-hosts, both Niagara natives, are the first to admit they don’t know a whole lot about wine and they’re hoping that will be the appeal of the show.

“We’re coming at it from level zero,” explained Patrick Gagliardi. “We’re talking to winemakers, grape growers, producers, we’re talking to the real scientists and we’re asking the questions everyone wants to know but it’s too daunting for them to ask, like what’s the difference between red and white wine? We’re breaking down those barriers in a lighthearted way.”

Gagliardi and St. Catharines native Ralph deGroot first pitched the show, Cork Screwed, a few years ago to Bell’s broadcast platform. While they didn’t pick it up at the time, the idea stayed on the shelf until fall 2017 when Bell reached out to the pair to revisit the idea.

“We went to Toronto and pitched it to them again and they loved the dynamic, they loved the idea,” said Gagliardi.

While both spend a lot of time working in Toronto, they live in Niagara.

“A lot of people think, by virtue of that, we should know a lot about wine. The reality is, we know nothing about wine,” said deGroot.

While there are plenty of reality shows out there featuring experts, such as house flipping and cooking shows, deGroot said all the hosts usually have some sort of built-in knowledge on the subject matter.

“Often times they’re talking way over the audience because they know too much. The idea is, coming in at an entry level,” he said.

The first shoot of the series was held at Southbrook Vineyards in Niagara-on-the-Lake where Gagliardi and deGroot chatted with proprietor Bill Redelmeier. With years of experience in the industry, deGroot said that even when Redelmeier tries to ‘dumb down’ his wine talk, he’s still speaking over the heads of many people who are still trying to learn.

“Our job is to really pull him back so the viewers can really understand the foundational aspects of wine and that will allow them to understand what they’re buying, certain things to look for on the shelf and give them more confidence in a restaurant or a wine aisle,” he said.

As for Redelmeier, he said there was a lot of appeal in participating in the show.

“We in the wine business, we focus on people that know a whole bunch about wine rather than growing the industry, growing the customer base. I think it’s really positive to put Ontario wine, to put Canadian wine in the forefront. To talk about it on the same level as most imports,” he said.

The show will air on Bell’s FibeTV1 this fall and will be available through the FibeTV app. Gagliardi and deGroot set up a production company so they could create the show themselves and are looking to relicense it to other companies and streaming services after their exclusivity with FibeTV expires.

Redelmeier said bringing positive attention to Ontario wine helps the industry as a whole.

“People ask who my competitors are and they expect me to say Jackson-Triggs and Pillitteri, but my competitors are Seagram’s and Labatt’s. If anyone is having a good experience drinking Ontario wine, it’s positive for Southbrook. If someone enjoys Southbrook, it’s positive for our neighbours as well,” he said. “The Ontario industry is incredibly important and my worry is, with a project like this, I’m supposed to simplify things and I talk way too much.”

For the first season, which will encompass six episodes, the show will visit six wineries across Niagara.

“We wanted to try and include the whole region,” said Gagliardi, noting they’ll be visiting St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and the Twenty Valley.

Another benefit of producing the show themselves? DeGroot said it meant they got to decide how it was made. For them, that meant staffing an entire crew of Niagara workers.

“That’s why we chose this — to have the control and, it sounds corny, to make a show about Niagara, in Niagara, with a full staff of Niagara professionals; 90 per cent of the time (Niagarans in the film industry) have to go to the other side of the lake to make a real pay cheque. We’d like to create something that brings more work to Niagara,” he said. “If we can do this, there are a lot of things we can centre a TV show around in Niagara. The most obvious seemed to be wine.”

The pair are hoping the show takes off and would like to make more seasons — they already have more wineries on board who are willing to be featured in future episodes. As for an audience, deGroot said he thinks it’s something that will appeal to everyone.

“Seventy per cent of the wine buying public don’t know as much about wine as they’d like,” he said. “Our job is to keep it light. If you’re not really into wine but you just want to know a little more so when you’re in a restaurant you can order a bottle, you’re not necessarily going to take a course at Brock University — even an online course. When you go online you’re listening to a sommelier discuss this or that, right away you’re either bored or it’s going over your head because the language is going right over your head. Our job is to keep it light and fresh so that people don’t even realize they’re necessarily learning.”

For updates on the show, follow along on social media: @CorkScrewedTV on Twitter and Cork Screwed on Facebook.