WINES WITH PEDIGREE FROM A
WINERY WITH HERITAGE.
In the late 18th century, our great-great-great grandfather was deeded the land on which our winery sits. Fast forward six generations and we’re still on the family farm.
We named the winery Henry of Pelham after great-great-great grandpa’s son, Henry, who we think had a pretty dry sense of humour, nicknaming himself “Henry of Pelham” after a British Prime Minister. He was quite the entrepreneur, building an inn and tavern on the property and operating a toll road. He raised sheep. And grew grapes—some of the first to be planted in Canada. Our tasting room and wine store are in Henry’s carriage house.
In 1984, when our parents decided to replace Henry’s concord and Niagara grapevines with old world vinifera grapes, the Niagara wine scene hardly existed and there were a lot of naysayers—but we had done our homework. Heat scans proved we had the right conditions, and we bettered our chances by contouring the hills and installing drainage. At the time, we were one of only a few Niagara wineries to make premium wines from our own grapes.
Today we honour our family’s ties to the land by capturing the taste of the landscape.
We think Henry would be proud.
SIX GENERATIONS STRONG
1778 - FOR KING AND COUNTRY
Great-great-great grandpa Nicholas Smith, a United Empire Loyalist, joins the Butler’s Rangers, serving as a bugle-boy and translator (he was part Iroquois) during the American Revolution.
1794 - LAND OF OPPORTUNITY
Nicholas is awarded the deed to the land where the winery is today, thanks to his service during the Revolution. Over the years he adds additional parcels to the farm.
1842 - YOU CAN CALL ME SIR
Henry, Nicholas’ youngest son, builds an inn, tavern and carriage house on the property. He signs the tavern’s liquor license “Henry of Pelham” as a joking reference to a past British prime minister, Sir Henry Pelham. The name sticks. He plants some of Canada’s first vineyards.
1982 - KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
Paul Speck Sr. and Bobbi Speck purchase several contiguous parcels of the original family farm.
1984 - HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER
Paul Sr. and Bobbi put their three boys to work hand-planting Riesling and Chardonnay vines. At the time, Paul Jr. was 17, Matthew was 14 and Daniel was 10. The back-breaking work continued over several summers and too many weekends to count.
1988 - THE HAT TRICK
Paul Jr. becomes president. Henry of Pelham produces its first vintage. The winery helps found the Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) with a handful of other Niagara wineries.
1993 - THE LEGACY CONTINUES
Paul Sr. passes away and Paul, Matthew and Daniel become the winery’s owners.
THE SPECK BROTHERS
Matthew E. Speck
Matt began work at Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery in the early 1980s. He planted, posted, wired and grew 65 acres of vinifera and vinifera hybrid vineyards along with brothers Paul and Daniel. Beginning in 1992, Matt assumed the role of Viticulture Manager and Vice President at Henry of Pelham Winery and has continued to develop the vineyards into some of the finest in Niagara.
His viticultural work was recognized when Matt was named Grape King at the Niagara Grape & Wine Festival of 2000-2001. Matt was educated at St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland (BA, Philosophy and Mathematics double major).
Paul T. Speck
Paul planted the early vineyards with his younger brothers Matt and Daniel and began the business development of Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery. In 1989, Paul became President of Henry of Pelham Winery and set it on course to become a 75,000-case per year producer of fine Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) wines.
Paul is a founding director of VQA, and continues to play an active role in promoting and developing the premium wine industry in Niagara and Ontario, as current Vice Chair of the VQA, former Chairman of the Wine Council of Ontario, and as a former director of the Canadian Vintners Association. Paul received his BA from St. John’s College, Annapolis, Maryland in Classical Philosophy (with Mathematics as a minor).
Sales and Marketing
Daniel is co-owner and one of three brothers who as children shovel-planted the modern-day vineyards that became Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery in Niagara’s Short Hills Bench. The Speck brothers founded the winery with their parents, a family venture which began in 1984. Daniel spent the years from age 8 to 22 in the vineyards. He studied philosophy, math and science at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, then returned to work on the farm/winery upon graduation.
After fourteen vineyard-years he migrated from the farm to the marketplace when a key sales person left the company. Today he is Vice President, Sales and Marketing. Daniel actively promotes and sells his family’s wines while still participating in determining each wine’s final composition with his two older brothers and the winemakers.
“When everyone else became a knowledge worker in the 1990s, we connected to our roots with what you might call green collar work. Hard work.”
– Paul Speck
Sandrine spent her youth in Northern France where she visited her aunt and uncle’s vineyard and helped with the harvest. After high school, she studied biology and chemistry, which laid the foundation for her winemaking career. After studying winemaking in Toulouse and working a harvest at La Cave de Tecou in the Gaillac appellation in 1992, she moved to Canada on July 12, 1993. She first met Paul, Matthew and Daniel Speck in January 1994 when she was working as winemaker at Stonechurch. Sandrine joined Henry of Pelham as assistant winemaker in 1997 and has been the winemaker since July 2013.
Henry of Pelham’s 300-acre vineyard is located in the Short Hills Bench
sub-appellation of the Niagara Peninsula.
The Short Hills Bench is the most easterly of the sub-appellations located within the Niagara Escarpment. It encompasses the land rising up from the plain of the peninsula south of Regional Road 81 to the Escarpment Brow and situated between Twelve Mile Creek and Fifteen Mile Creek.
The undulating hills and valleys of the Short Hills, which rest on an ancient buried valley that once cut through the Niagara of
Escarpment and connected the basins Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, provide long gentle slopes with excellent drainage and sun exposure. The warm sunny days and cool nights characteristic of this area are perfect for developing the intense grape flavours derived from its complex soils. All the grapes for Henry of Pelham Estate and Speck Family Reserve wines are grown in the Short Hills Bench sub-appellation.
from soil to shelf
When your family has been on the land for six generations, sustainability takes on new meaning.
In 2006, Henry of Pelham was the first vineyard to be certified as local and sustainable by Local Food Plus. We’ve followed Sustainable Winemaking Ontario’s world-leading standards in our farming practices since 2004. In 2017, we became one of only six wineries in Ontario to be certified by the Wine Council of Ontario as following sustainable winemaking practices from soil to shelf.
We’ve insulated our sexy stainless steel tanks with some seriously unsexy foil-coated bubble wrap. Designed our winery so we can heat and cool areas independently—often using outdoor air. Created wildlife corridors, then protected the vines from hungry furry visitors with reusable fine mesh netting. And left dead trees for raptor perches.
From wetland restoration and biofiltration to reforestation and water conservation, our efforts will ensure that plants, helpful insects, animals and people—including wine makers—continue to thrive on this land six generations from now.
“Real sustainability is never done. It’s an ongoing process of improvement where we find and apply the best new practices, never being afraid to break with the past.”
– Daniel Speck