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Saturday, July 13, 2024
Business: New CEO promises change while honouring the legacy of Chateau des Charmes
Chateau des Charmes, on York Road in Niagara-on-the-Lake, has been sold to a group of young investors. JILL TROYER

The elegant white tent on the courtyard behind Chateau des Charmes is normally the scene for special events and stylish weddings, but last Friday it was where Paul-Andre Bosc handed off the ownership and operations of the winery to the new CEO, Marco Piccoli, and a group of young Canadian investors.

Bosc shared the news of the sale of Chateau des Charmes with staff first. The winery was founded by his father, Paul Bosc Sr., in 1978, who is widely recognized as a pioneer in the Niagara wine industry.

The sale price was not disclosed.

While Piccoli has his eye firmly on the future, he said he is also deeply respectful of the history and traditions Chateau des Charmes has developed over the last 46 years.

“This represents a generational handoff, a passing of the baton to a new generation,” he said.

“The quality is there, but we need to accelerate innovation. A lot of legacy must stay, but now is also the time for new ideas and new partnerships,” he added.

One of those new partnerships will be with the Niagara Custom Crush Studio in Vineland, known as the Crush.

It provides a collective of independent wineries with modern production facilities and services, and offers consumers the opportunity to taste wines from a wide range of brands in one place.

The other partnership is with a company called BevPro Canada, which Piccoli said “will help us accelerate sales, hospitality and marketing opportunities.”

While news of the sale of Chateau des Charmes was a surprise to most when it was announced on Friday, it had been in the works for a long time.

Bosc explained to staff last week that he and his dad started discussions about the future of the winery as far back as three years ago.

He said he told his dad, “I was always part of a team, it was like being in a band, and I don’t think I’m going to be a very good soloist.”

At that time, Paul’s mother had died, he’d lost his wife only two years before that, and his dad was 86.

“So, with his blessing, we decided to keep an open mind about our future,” Bosc said.

“My father was deeply involved in this process, until just before he passed away last December. We liked that the investors are young Canadians, and Marco Piccoli is the right person to be the next CEO.”

He noted he and his dad have known Piccoli for 20 years, and in addition to his very successful career here, as former director of winemaking and operations for Arterra Wines, his European roots are a parallel to Bosc’s own.

Piccoli was formally educated in Italy and Germany, just as Paul Bosc Sr. was educated in France.

Bosc himself has spent a lifetime in the family business. He started out planting vines on Creek Road in 1978, later moving into sales and international relationships. He became president and CEO 20 years ago.

But now, “it’s time for us to hand over custodianship to a new generation,” he said.

Bosc won’t be out of the picture at the winery. He continues to own the property directly across from Chateau des Charmes on York Road, with more than 40 acres of vineyards he and his father originally planted.

The grapes grown there will be used exclusively by Chateau des Charmes.

As for the specifics of the changes afoot at the winery, the promise is for exclusive events and innovative new wines that celebrate Niagara, with details yet to come.

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