GRIMSBY, Ont. — Paul Pender, head winemaker at Vineland, Ont.-based Tawse winery, died last week following an incident at his family cottage.
According to CBC News, Ontario Provincial Police responded to a 911 call and Pender, 54, was pronounced dead at the scene. A Hamilton man has been charged with second-degree murder.
“It is with deep sadness and heavy hearts that we inform you of the death of our colleague and friend,” reads a statement from Tawse Winery. “Paul died unexpectedly under tragic circumstances … We will all miss him more than words can express. He was not just our manager, but our good friend as well.”
Pender, a graduate of Niagara College’s Winery and Viticulture program, joined Tawse Winery in 2005 and became head winemaker a year later, helping the business obtain organic and biodynamic certifications, and the Canadian Winery of the Year award four times between 2010 and 2016. The Ontario Wine Awards named him winemaker of the year in 2011.
“Pender and his wife Allison Findlay (2014) – head winemaker at Flat Rock Cellars – both have a special place in the College community, as prominent alumni from the Winery and Viticulture program,” reads a post on the college’s website. “Pender was enrolled during the early years of the program and was a graduate of its trailblazing second class. After completing his studies, his career quickly blossomed within the heart of Niagara’s booming wine industry, and he became one of the most celebrated winemakers in Canada.”
In lieu of flowers, the family will be setting up a bursary in Pender’s name, which will be organized at a future date.