I never met Gabe Magnotta but I did hear of his actions in the Ontario wine industry. I was saddened to hear of his of his death Dec 20 2009.
He has been characterized as a maverick in the Ontario wine industry because of his confrontations with the LCBO and about how he went to market his wines. I went to dictionairy.com to get a clarification on the word Maverick and find myself not liking the connotation it infers.
Everything I see and read does not show a Gabe Magnotta who was out to subvert the system in place. I see someone who saw certain aspects of the system that were unfair to him and wineries in general and took advantage of certain practices in the system to right the wrongs that he saw.
The fact that he had the courage to take actions that were contrary to "the normal practices of the industry" for me is a point of respect and shows an ability to think outside the box. He had principles and "walked the walk" to stick to them.
Gabe was very open about blending wines from outside Canada with Canadian product and really does not share any of the fall out from the Cellared in Canada debacle. He made wines of varying qualities which range from Monday to Thursday quaffers to world class reds that beat first growth Bordeaux in blind tastings (Millennium comes to mind, which was made from Chilean grapes). Ice wine was made that was less expensive and allowed more people to sample the first wine product Canada became renowned for.
There were also innovative products like his Sparking Vidal, and Sparkling Cabernet Franc ice wines as well as Ice Grappa.
Gabe Magnotta was a man of principle who did what he thought was necessary to make his winery successful even if it meant he had do things that were perceived as unpopular. I own a small amount of stock
in his winery and it was these qualities that enticed me to participate in a small way and I'm glad I did.
Peace be with you Gabe. You did it your way.
There is an article that goes into specifics about Gabe Magnotta's life. Just click the title of this entry