On April 1, 1971, Ken and Renate Dyck used their life’s savings to purchase their first vineyard – a 23-acre farm. With the support of Renate’s father, they replaced the peach trees with grapes and set about rebuilding the small house on the farm, preparing it for the immanent arrival of their first child, Warren. At that time, they couldn’t even dream that 35 years later this would become the site of Cattail Creek Estate Winery.
Just a few years later in 1976, they purchased the original family vineyard owned by Renate’s father as he was preparing to settle down into retirement. While only having been growing grapes for five years, they sensed that there would be a change in the wine industry. So when asked by the local winery at the time to plant an experimental block of Riesling vines, they jumped at the opportunity. They purchased 1,000 Riesling vines imported directly from Germany and planted them along side the popular grapes at the time. Being one of the first growers to experiment with growing Riesling vines, there was no support and many growers and researchers believed that the vines wouldn’t be able to grow in Canada’s harsh climate. Yet with continual experimentation and research, Ken and Renate were able to not just grow these grapes but become known as one of the best Riesling growers in Ontario. So much so that now Cattail Creek Estate Winery has over 15,000 Riesling vines planted in their vineyards. And today we have some of the oldest Riesling vines in the Niagara Region!
In 1984 they purchased the Rickety Bridge Vineyard and in 1994 they purchased their last vineyard, the Burning Barn Vineyard. The additional of these two vineyards grew their business to 100 acres used exclusively for the production of wine grapes. While a lot of hard work has gone into creating such successful vineyards, it would not have been possible to succeed in this every changing industry without passion and a sense of experimentation. This passion continues to inspire them to improve their vineyards, to experiment with different clones and rootstocks, to determine the best locations for each variety of grapes and to grow the best grapes that they can.
When Ken is not out in the vineyards on the tractor or checking the vines, you will find him with his grandson, Alex. Together they spend their days working on the tractor, mowing the lawns and if you listen very carefully when you visit us at the winery, you may even hear them splashing in the pool. They are inseparable.
Meanwhile, Renate loves gardening, making a vast assortment of jams from her berry patch or watching weather reports (40 years of being a farmer’s wife has cultivated an obsession with the weather).
Roselyn Dyck – Winery Manager
Growing up on a vineyard was fun, but it was wine that piqued Roselyn’s curiosity with its many complexities and nuances and how each wine is dependent on the actions in the vineyard. This lead Roselyn to learn about the many wines of the world. After graduation from the University of Toronto in 1997 with a Honours Bachelor of Science she returned home to work in the local wine industry and became a certified Sommelier in 1999 through the International Sommelier Guild. She was then offered a position with the LCBO as a Product Consultant where she continued her studies and successfully completed the challenging Diploma of Wines and Spirits offered through the Wine and Spirits Education Trust based in London, England in 2001.
Over the years, Roselyn has held various positions in the wine industry, each one teaching her valuable lessons about both the wine industry in general and the business of wine. After the birth of her son, Alex, she returned home to Niagara on the Lake and undertook the development and management of Cattail Creek Estate Winery.
Passionate about wine, yet drawn to its simplicity, Roselyn believes that while wine can be very complex and intimidating, its focus is about all the good things in life – good food, great company and wonderful memories.
When Roselyn isn’t at the winery, she spends all her time with her son watching soccer games, playing board games and going for walks.
Warren Dyck – Vineyard Manager
Even from a young age, Warren has always been an integral part of the vineyards. From his first tractor when he was just two years old to the Massey Ferguson tractor at age eleven, he was often found hard at work in the vineyards after school. After studying Accounting at Niagara College, Warren made the decision to continue the tradition and join the family vineyards in 1993.
While our family history has always been very important to Warren he realizes that viticulture is continually evolving. Research is making new discoveries in everything from pest control to canopy management and his experience is teaching him many things, including the best locations for specific grape varieties and how to deal with the challenges that Mother Nature throws at him each year. By integrating new and innovative ideas into the day-to-day operations of the vineyards, Warren is continually improving both the quality and productiveness of the vineyards.
Warren has proven that with a sense of history along with a keen eye to new information, he can consistently produce excellent quality wine grapes.
On days off from the farm, Warren spends his time watching football and building bonfires for the best marshmallow roasts with friends and family.