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Gretzky Estates Winery sets 2017 for Niagara-on-the-Lake opening

Niagara-on-the-Lake has scored a new Wayne Gretzky winery.

Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery and Craft Distillery will build a 15,000-square-foot facility on Niagara Stone Road in the heart of Ontario’s wine tourism region. It is slated to open in spring 2017.

The winery and craft distillery will have retail, hospitality and tasting space along with fermentation facilities, barrel cellars, offices and storage areas. The modern, barn-style structure will have abundant windows to provide views of the vineyard and escarpment. Four acres of grapes will be planted for use in the Gretzky wines, and the rest will be purchased from local farmers. Construction is expected to begin in the fall.

“We’re thrilled as a town to have them here,” said Dawn McInnis, a spokeswoman for Niagara-on-the-Lake. “Hopefully, we’ll get to see the Great One.”

Gretzky, the Hockey Hall of Famer who has an ownership interest in the winery, is still “very much involved” in the company, as are his father, Walter, and brother Glen, according to Greg Berti, a spokesman for Andrew Peller Ltd., which acquired the brand in 2011.

“From the wines themselves to the style of the building, he’s been a wonderful help on this project,” Berti said. “He has a great sense of style himself.”

Gretzky Estates hasn’t had a dedicated location since it was acquired from Creekside Estates Winery. Its wine has been made at other Peller-owned wineries in British Columbia and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Its product lines are marketed under the label No. 99, reflecting Gretzky’s former National Hockey League jersey number.

Peller owns several wine brands sold in Niagara-on-the-Lake, including Trius Winery, which will be adjacent to the new facility, as well as about 300 acres of vineyards. Gretzky Estates currently has a tasting room at Calona Vineyards Winery Boutique in Kelowna, British Columbia, as well as Wine Country Vintners on Queen Street in Niagara-on-the-Lake.