Niagara Region winemakers weather a punishing harvest season in Crush: Message in a Bottle

New TVO Original documentary available across Canada on November 7, 2023

Toronto, Ontario, Nov. 02, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Experience a year in the lives of artisanal winemakers and growers in Ontario’s Niagara Region. Premiering Tuesday, November 7 at 9 pm on TVO and streaming across Canada on, YouTube and TVO Today’s apps, TVO Original Crush: Message in a Bottle is a cinematic documentary about independent winemakers enduring an incredibly difficult harvest. 

Crush shows how winemaking can be a gruelling pursuit, both physically and mentally. It’s not for the weak-hearted,” says John Ferri, VP of Programming and Content at TVO. “Year after year, the winemakers featured in this documentary put every bit of themselves into their craft. Together, they’re creating a serious winemaking region from the soil up.”

"All of the winemakers/winegrowers in Crush are stewards of the soil. Their commitment to the process is unwavering, and I was struck by their passion and evident love for what they do,” says filmmaker Maya Gallus (The Heat: A Kitchen (R)evolution). “Winemakers talk about ‘a story’ in the wine, about patiently observing to see how that story unfolds in the cellar, knowing when to get out of the way and when to intervene — a process remarkably similar to long-form documentary filmmaking. Once I understood that, I knew how to make the film.”

Crush: Message in a Bottle focuses on subjects who are bucking the industry norms of white male wine professionals. With Jamaican family roots and deep ties to the Niagara Region, Ann-Marie Saunders has devoted herself to labour-intensive regenerative farming. A first-generation farmer, Kelly Mason works tirelessly to produce low-intervention, wild-fermented wines. Shiraz Mottiar is a winemaker who, despite his name, did not grow up in a wine-drinking family. Today, he is celebrated as the “King of Gamay.” He actively promotes diversity and sustainability in the industry. Crush also features Thomas Bachelder, who trained in Burgundy and now devotes himself to exploring the varying terroir of the Niagara Region. 

Crush is a testament to the passion and labour that goes into producing an exceptional bottle of wine in an inhospitable climate. Watch the premiere on November 7 at 9 pm. Sign up for the TVO Today Docs Newsletter and follow @TVODocs on Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date programming information.

A trailer is available here.


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Media contact: Genevieve Grant, 

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TVO Original documentary Crush: Message in a Bottle