Rosewood Estates Winery: A Family Business

It is believed that winemaking dates back to as early as 6,000 years BC. In ancient times, wine was considered a gift of the gods and was a privilege for members of high society only. Today, this drink, which fills the hearts with delight, accompanies all the important events of life.

Rosewood Estates Winery has been providing Canadians with its unique wines for ten years now. The area where Rosewood Estates Winery (and some 100 other wineries) is located, was under a lake one million years ago. Now, it is known as the Beamsville Bench, which is part of the Niagara escarpment, and has the best climate for viticulture in Canada.
Eugene and Renata Roman, the founders of Rosewood Estates Winery, were born in Canada, into Ukrainian families. Their parents raised them with a deep love for Ukraine. Both studied at Ukrainian Saturday schools, which also contributed to their patriotic upbringing.

The couple is actively involved in the Ukrainian community, and is well known and widely respected. Rosewood Estates Winery sponsors community festivals, banquets, and various charity events. Until recently, Eugene served on the Board Directors of Ukrainian Credit Union Limited, including a ten-year stint as the chair of the board. Currently, he is the Chief Technical Officer of Canadian Tire – this year Information Technology Association of Canada’s (ITAC) recognized him as Canada’s CIO of the Year. Renata, a physiotherapist by profession, is Vice-President of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, and a Board member of the Children of Chernobyl Fund. She is actively involved in the projects for rehabilitation of wounded Ukrainian soldiers.

Rosewood Estates Winery started from Roman Romanchukevych’s (Eugene’s father, known later as William Roman) bee garden. He was an engineer by profession and became interested in beekeeping back in Ukraine. He did not abandon this hobby in Canada and started an apiary close Toronto. Eugene often visited the apiary in his childhood, so it is little wonder that he inherited the passion for beekeeping from his father.

In the 1960s, William Roman wanted to start the production of honey wine, but he could not get a license. Eugene fulfilled his father’s dream many years later. He also fulfilled a promise he gave Renata at the beginning of their marriage – to open a winery. So, in 2000, he bought 40 acres of land on the Beamsville Bench, and the first vineyard Renaceau Vineyard after Renata. They began constructing the winery in 2005, the first harvest of grapes was collected the next year and, in 2008 the winery was opened. Eugene and Renata’s children have helped build the family business. Their son Volodymyr (William) manages the production and daughter Christina headed marketing and sales. Christina is also studying to become a sommelier.

Renata Roman can talk for hours about making different wines (white, red, rosé, honey) and about the wine business in general. However, she admits that at first she and Eugene knew very little about the business. They built up their knowledge and experience over the years, gradually learning from the professionals, for example, from Natalie Spitkovski, the Head Winemaker and Meadmaker at Rosewood in the late 2000s, and from Ross Wise of New Zealand.

“It’s nice and quiet here at the moment,” says Renata referring to the fact that a lot of the real action doesn’t happen on a 9-to-5 schedule. “Come here at 6 in the morning at harvest time and you’ll see a completely different picture. It is not a glamorous lifestyle as someone may think, it’s all rubber boots and noise, and work from dawn till late at night – that is the “backstage” of our life.”

The Roman’s have always combined the idea of wine making with the idea of beekeeping, with the goal of making Mead – the oldest alcoholic beverage known from many ancient civilizations. The family now owns 15 apiaries with 20-30 beehives each, and uses this honey as an excellent raw material for wine. They also sell raw honey and candles from real beeswax, which Eugene makes on his own using special equipment. Rosewood Estates Winery is the only winery in Canada which produces wines made of honey and grapes.
Today, the family-owned Rosewood Estates Winery is a modern and well-run enterprise. The grapes are carefully selected to comply with the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) requirements which guarantees the quality and authenticity of Canadian-origin wines. Rosewood Estates Winery has an impressive selection of wines with unique tastes, rich and yet subtle aromas, and superb colors. Just between us, Renata’s favorite is a Cabernet Franc.

The Winery hosts a shop, a small museum, wine-making facility, warehouse, lab, and a cellar. The store and “barrels room” are decorated by such renowned artists as Volyanyuk and Lesyuk and each barrel is lovingly named after glamorous movie stars such as Lisa Minnelli, Sophie Loren and others. The Winery sells its products directly to the public at the vineyard as well as online, through LCBO and restaurants, and is starting to export to Japan. Renata says that they are cooperating with neighboring wineries to raise the image of Ontario wines.

Some wineries do not introduce changes for many years but Rosewood Estates Winery is constantly experimenting with new flavors and colors, and enriching their product line. Renata and Eugene closely monitor the novelties in the wine making and they have their own secrets. They are planning to introduce new wines and meads, expand the production, and organize exhibitions.

“Understanding that both we and our business are very dependent on nature, makes us to adapt to it, but also to unite with it, use all its gifts sensibly and rationally, and remain up to date with the progress,” says Renata. She believes that in any business you should not rely on someone else but should rather make decisions and act yourself.

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