Paul Pender Memorial Award


The 2022 Ontario Wine Awards is inaugurating the Paul Pender Memorial ‘Rising Star Award’.

The Award will be presented to an individual who has exhibited outstanding talent and professionalism in their work for an Ontario winery.

(The Selection Committee: Ron Giesbrecht, Peter Rod, Belinda Kemp, Jay Johnston, Vicki Smyth, Gavin Robertson and Tony Aspler.)

In memory of Paul’s enthusiasm and his unstinting mentorship of newly-minted winemakers, the recipient of this Award will have demonstrated the same commitment to advising and guiding the careers of others entering the winegrowing/winemaking profession.

Please select a candidate with whom you have worked for at least a complete vintage and write a short letter as to why you think the person in question may be a worthy recipient.

In selecting your candidate, please take the following guidelines into consideration:

We lean heavily here on recognizing some of the traits that we all knew that Paul had.  The person you suggest as a worthy candidate may not be like Paul at all, but we want certain characteristics to be clearly evident in the recognition of a rising star.  

  • Eagerness, Attitude and Unstoppable Energy.  These qualities may take many forms, but please try to describe how your candidate displays them.

  •  The Art of Invention and Reinvention.  Perhaps one could say “creativity,” but the way Paul approached his life and his work always accepted ideas that were new, novel, fun – and often better than what had been done previously.

  • The Pursuit of an Idea (one big idea or many ideas) through Information and Education.  Although formal education may well be a part of this, it is just a part.  Ideas are a ‘flash of inspiration,’ but pursuing them takes dogged determination over time to build the knowledge, experience and a wise approach that brings ideas to fruition. 

  • Reaching out.  Reaching out to help – reaching out for help – or simply reaching out to share.  All are ways in which Paul was an expert at communicating ‘betterness’.  A better base of shared knowledge and resources, a better self, and a better community of friends and colleagues. This can manifest itself in many ways and not limited to:

    • Inside the wine establishment or community with events, organizations and committees

    • Outside the wine community - sports, charity work, environmental causes, and so on. 

  • Leadership – by example, by mentoring, by coaching, by humble suggestion, by democratic philosophy – and occasionally (maybe only when needed) by strength and coercion. … but showing the potential for leadership is an important facet of this award - if we see the potential for this person to create in the future a larger mark on our industry. 

Based on the applicants submitted by you and your colleagues, the Award committee will prepare a short list of candidates.  Then each of the short-listed ‘rising stars’ will be asked to submit a CV of their own work and a description of themselves.  This will be a limited description that may include their goals, inspirations, activities and philosophies (but need not be ‘prose perfect’) - simply an insight into the life and character of the individual. 

The winner selected by the committee may be asked to relate further details - and to write a short letter expressing their enthusiasm to be the winner of the inaugural Paul Pender Award.


The Award itself will be presented on Thursday, June 16th at Niagara College as part of the Ontario Wine Awards medal ceremony.

The deadline for your submission of a candidate (one per winery, please) is Friday, March 11th.

Thank you for participating in this endeavour to memorialize the legacy of a fabled winemaker and friend.


Tony Aspler