Though PondView Estate Winery has a new name, the winery’s connection to its past is stronger than ever before.
Bella Terra wines have been a flagship for the winery since opening its doors in 2010, but the ongoing success and expansion of the wines inspired owner Luciano (Lou) Puglisi to rename the operation.
“Bella Terra pays homage to our family history, our Italian roots, our grape-growing roots,” Puglisi said in an interview.
Grape-growing is a 45-year tradition in the Puglisi family, with three generations producing grapes from Italy to Canada.
Lou’s parents Giuseppe and Concetta immigrated to Canada in the 1970s and while on a trip to Niagara Falls, discovered the farmlands of Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The Puglisis decided to acquire a piece of NOTL's “beautiful land,” or Bella Terra in Italian, and continue a family tradition of growing grapes and tender fruits.
Changing the name to Bella Terra Vineyards is a way to pay homage to his parents and go back to his roots, Puglisi said.
“It gives me great joy and pride to be able to express that in our wines and in our business.”
The design of the new Bella Terra label is a simplified version of a Sicilian tile with the sun at its centre. It is a way for Puglisi to celebrate his family roots and “the connection between earth and sun that are the foundation of excellent grape farming,” Bella Terra said in a news release.
The vineyard has also prepared a new wine experience, with a strong educational component, to share the Bella Terra story and help visitors understand why the natural history, geography of the region and the Puglisi family's history has such an impact on the wines being produced.
Visitors can expect a walk through the vineyards while sipping wine. But they will also be travelling back in time with written explanations and QR codes to scan with a cellphone that link the viewer to a video further explaining each stop marked with a plaque along the tour path.
“It's not about teaching people how to how to make wine, but it's about the Niagara region as a whole, explaining why we can grow grapes here,” said Marcel Morgenstern, Bella Terra's sales director.
One portion of the tour looks back to, “450 million years ago, when all of this land was submerged in a subtropical ocean and the escarpment was the highest part of this basin,” Morgenstern said. “And another stop talks about the ice ages, explaining more how all of this area was shaped.”
The guided tour with samples is like some other wine tour experiences in the region, but the subject matter and delivery is an innovative step for Bella Terra.
The guide will take you through the vineyards, stopping at plaques that explain the historical and geographical significance of the land and people behind the vineyard.
“But then, after you relax with another glass of wine or some charcuterie, you can get up, walk around again and watch the videos along the tour,” Morgenstern said.
Puglisi added, “It is important to me to let our guests know that our wines start right here in our own vineyards in one of the most exciting and still developing, growing regions of the world.”
People hoping to learn more about the history of Bella Terra and the wines it produces can book their guided tour online at bellaterravineyards.ca.