All posts by Alexa Keeler

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

Meet the Youngest Self-Funded Winery Owner in Ontario’s History

There are a few reasons multiple reviews refer to TerraCello as a “hidden jewel” in the heart of Prince Edward County wine region. TerraCello is a non-commercialized, artisan, farm winery. The vibe is in a laid-back bucolic setting. Outside is a rustic patio, fire pit and outdoor wood oven and kitchen. Inside boasts a wood fireplace, lounge, tasting rooms, barrel room and a second clay pizza oven imported from Naples, Italy.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello Winery, employs traditional, old-fashioned Italian methods to make certified natural wine and authentic Neapolitan pizza. He is also the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario’s history. Tony is the personification of hospitality: charming, warm, generous, and radiating passion and appreciation for his trade.

Anthony Auciello Jr., the founder and co-owner of TerraCello winery

The winery is a
tribute to Tony’s late father

“People know me for my wine and my pizza, but the real story is about a son paying tribute to his dad who passed away at a young age,” Tony explained. In 2004, Anthony paid a visit to his father’s home town of Anzano Di Puglia, Italy, which the locals referred to as Il Paradiso – The Paradise. The land was in bad shape. War and famine had pushed his uncle and grandfather out of Italy, and they were forced to abandon it. Overgrown bush and dirt mounds stood where plentiful fruit trees should have been. “It was an epiphany,” Tony said. When he returned to Canada, he would create the paradise his family was meant to have.

Related: How Food Injustice Inspired This 23-Year-Old to Start Her Own Farm, Plus Her Advice for You

At the time living in Toronto, Tony and his girlfriend (now wife) Danielle moved to Prince Edward County. “My wife got dragged along for this long, bumpy, crazy ride. She was a city girl. She wanted to stay and be a teacher in Toronto. But I had this gnawing void.” After years of working on the winery, Tony’s health began to deteriorate because of the long hours of work he was putting in. He and Danielle were deep in debt and struggling to get by.

Danielle had never had the chance to meet Tony’s dad, but one night she had a dream about him. She said he was dressed up in a suit, looking handsome and immaculate. (Tony later explained that his father always dressed up, despite having no money or status to merit it). Danielle also said that in the dream that Tony’s father was driving an orange convertible. (Tony explained that his father’s first car in Canada in 1969 was an orange convertible Camaro). Danielle said Tony’s father gave her a hug and, with an arm around her, told her: “Please don’t worry about Anthony – he knows what he’s doing.”

Related: The Most Delicious Ways to Use Leftover Wine

With the $30 they had, Danielle went to Home Hardware and picked up a flag. She put it up at the road. Fifteen minutes later, two women walked in and bought the first bottle of wine they ever sold. “When they bought that wine, I swear to god it felt like they gave me fifty thousand dollars cash. It was like I had won the lottery,” Tony said. This first purchase washed away all the self-doubt that had been building up over the last five years of work. “I never looked back,” he said. “After that first bottle of wine, I said ‘we’re going to kill it. I’m not just going to do good pizza and wine; I’m going to become one of the best in Prince Edward County.’”

Outside TerraCello winery

They searched for a new property in the County. Where TerraCello now rests, there sits a giant well that separates the patio space from the vineyard. “When the owner showed me the well, I was sold,” Tony said. “The guys [who were here] were old, old school and I could relate because my dad was so old-fashioned.”

For five years, they worked 18 hours a day to restore and build the property into the gorgeous Italian farmhouse-style winery it is today. “Little by little, we built a reputation – one pizza at a time, one bottle of wine at a time. One customer at a time,” Tony said. On July 23, 2013, at 27 years old, Tony became the youngest self-funded winery owner in Ontario.

Outside TerraCello winery

Strict traditional methods

Tony executes a purist method. He is one of the few agriturismos in the County — the Italian tradition of farm to table. Tony fondly describes himself as “fanatical.” He is not only the owner, founder and financier, he is also the head winemaker and he makes all of the pizza dough, every single day, by hand.

The clay oven that they make most of their pizzas in is from Naples, Italy. Tony explained that making pizzas at scale in front a thousand-degree clay oven is very physically demanding, and not many can handle it. Apparently, it takes ten thousand hours to achieve the status of pizzaiolo. That’s a lot of flaming hot pizza.

Pizza oven inside TerraCello winery

COVID-19 has forced Tony to pull back on some expenses — such as, his membership to an official Canadian pizza organization — so that he could continue to spend on top quality ingredients. True to form, Tony gets all of his ingredients from Italy. The flour he uses costs about $50 per bag, and is approved by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (The Pizza Association of Naples). The tomatoes he uses are also Italy-approved. Everything, down to the handmade olive oil can from Naples, comes from age-old traditions. “If you ever have a pizza, even a margherita, and it’s got no oil, it’s not classified as a pizza. Period,” Tony warned. Italians are serious about their pizza. And after tasting it prepared in this way, so am I.

Pizza inside TerraCello winery

Natural winemaker

To classify as a natural wine, the grapes must be grown without pesticides, the wine must be stabilized naturally, it cannot be filtered and it cannot have any chemical additives. Most wines are processed by heavy filtering – “which is how 94% of the world’s wine is made,” Tony says. “I don’t believe in that.”
Woman holding glass of wine outside of TerraCello winery

Most of the time, natural wines are quite cloudy. By Canadian standards, we are legally allowed to put certain products in the wine to remove the cloudiness, but it goes against natural winemaking. The cloudiness is due to crystals in the wine that need to be precipitated out. In a modern setting, you’d use a tank with a chilling system. But as we know, Tony is a naturalist, so he does it the old-fashioned way. He opens the door in the wintertime and he allows the room to dip to -2 degrees for a week.

Related: The Most Expensive Wine and Spirits Ever Sold

The Boca Nera is his signature wine. An unfiltered, three-year in French oak aged, Barolo-style wine. Often called “The King of Wines,” Barolos are produced in the northern Italian region of Piedmont. It is made from the nebbiolo grape and is often described as one of Italy’s greatest wines. Tony’s Boca Nera has notes of caramel, toffee and French vanilla. If you could bottle the feeling of abbiocco, this would be it.

Bottle of wine at TerraCello winery

“Wine is like paint by numbers these days,” Tony said. Society wants uniformity and homogenization because they want the wine to taste the same every year. According to an expose on Bloomberg, there are such a thing as wine “fixers.” These are white glove chemists, often employed by billionaires and large corporations, who fix wines that have gone awry to ensure they taste consistent across batches. “I don’t want to over-control the product. I want it to taste different,” Tony said.

All you need is the right environment

Tony doesn’t have Wi-Fi at the winery, and he is unapologetic about it. He wants people to talk to the person next to them. “And they’re liberated,” he says. “After two hours of sitting outside they say, ‘we just had the best time of our life.’ And I didn’t do nothing. I just took them away from the distractions.”

Bottle of wine and charcuterie plate outside of TerraCello winery

“I didn’t want it to be a commercial, cookie-cutter winery where you go in and you do the formal tasting, and it’s all a premeditated spiel,” said Tony, “I wanted to take TerraCello back to the way my dad and us grew up — very old school, very warm, less transactional.”

Photos courtesy of Sabrina Stavenjord @sabrinastavenjord

12 Truly Canadian Recipes

Alexa post

Whether you are spending July 1st in the backyard with friends, at a cottage up north, or spending a quiet evening at home, there is no better way to celebrate Canada Day than with a menu of truly Canadian food staples.

Check out these super Canadian recipes based on the nation’s internationally beloved regional foods:

1. Bacon

Smoked, fried, baked or broiled, this delicious, salty meat has become a go-to in Canadian cuisine. In fact, Canadians are so obsessed with the stuff that peameal bacon is known as “Canadian bacon” abroad. In America, it’s taken from the belly of the pork; in Canada it’s made from the side and back cuts, where there’s much more meat than fat. Bacon is no longer reserved simply for breakfast, burgers and sandwiches. This crispy meat is now used in conjunction with sweets to add a balancing savoury element. But for the sake of tradition, try some Canadian Cheddar Burgers with Peameal Bacon this Canada Day.

2. Poutine

Another Canadian staple is poutine, eh! Originating in rural Quebec, this decadent fast food dish consists of crispy French fries topped with cheese curds and then slathered in hot, rich gravy. Try a gourmet version of this Canadian junk food fave, with some Foie Gras Poutine.

3. Beer

If there’s anything rather useless that Canadians are especially good at, it’s brewing and drinking beer. Since most of us will be consuming a great deal of alcoholic beverages on July 1st anyway, why not try this super simple BBQ chicken meal that takes just two ingredients. The kicker? This recipe requires you to drink some of the beer! So give Michael Smith’s Beer Can Chicken a try.

4. Pemmican

If you want to make something truly Canadian to honour this great nation’s annual celebration, get your hands on some moose meat and dried cranberries. Pemmican is a concentrated mixture of fat and protein that was and is said to provide energy in times of transience, severe cold or scarce resources. Try this simple Pemmican recipe and get a taste of what helped our ancestors brave the harsh Canadian cold.

5. Venison

Venison is the meat of any game animal, stemming from the Latin venor, which means “to hunt or pursue”, but it most often refers to deer meat. Northern Canada is a popular destination for hunting enthusiasts, and before the introduction of farming animals, most traditional Canadian dishes consisted of wild game meat. Take a walk on the wild side with this meaty Canada Day delight; Vennison with Sweet Potato Dauphinoise.

6. Lobster

Canada is rather well-known for its seafood, and the most valuable Canadian seafood export is lobster; Eastern Canada’s offshore lobster fishery is one of the best-managed, sustainable fisheries in the world. Another Canadian favourite is Kraft Dinner. What happens when you combine gourmet sea fare with a comfort food classic? Try this Lobster Mac & Cheese masterpiece and you’ll find out.

7. Salmon

Canada is very well known for its saltwater fish, and the Atlantic salmon is one of the most highly sought after game fish on the East Coast. This fish packs a nutritional punch, so get a healthy dose of omega 3’s this Canada Day with our World-Famous Hot-Smoked Salmon Sandwich.

8. Arctic Char

Closely related to both salmon and lake trout (and similar to both in taste), this fish is found off of Canada’s northern coast. Because of their low-optimum temperature requirements, they grow well in Canada’s cold waters. Try this Roasted Arctic Char with Chickpea Ragu.

9. Goose

It doesn’t get much more Canadian than this. Geese are symbolic of Canada mostly for their high population within the country, but also for their bravery, loyalty and … delicious meat. Roast goose is an Old World tradition, typically eaten at Christmas or on a special occasion. We think July 1st is just as special an occasion, so try our Roast Goose with Currant Kumquat Compote.

10. Montreal Smoked Meat

In case the name doesn’t give it away, this North American favourite hails from Montreal! Beef brisket is smoked with fragrant wood chips, and rubbed with a special spice medley to give it a distinct flavor. Pile CC’S Montreal Smoked Meat on some rye bread with all your favourite fixings.

11. Apples

From Cortland and Spartan to Golden Delicious, Canada has no shortage of flavour choices with these tangy fruits. An interesting pairing that is unique to Canada is the combination of tart apple with sharp cheddar. Try it out—round up some of your favourite apple varieties and bake a Brunch-Style Cheddar-Apple Crisp for dessert.

12. Maple Syrup

This golden brown sauce practically lines the shelves of Canadian tourist shops. Made from the xylem sap of maple trees, it takes approximately 43 gallons of sap to produce a single gallon of syrup. Finish your long weekend celebration on a high note with a slice of this devilishly sweet Maple Pecan Pie.

Top 8 Canadian Cocktails

There’s nothing better than sipping at a spicy Caesar or sweet martini while you’re lounging in the summer sun. Besides; what better excuse to knock back a few cocktails than the annual celebration of Canada Day?

To get the party started, we’ve found 8 great Canadian-themed cocktails for you to enjoy over the long weekend—or any day this summer!

 

1. The Canadian Rock Shot
Although inspired by Canadian winter sports such as hockey and curling, this party favourite is a hit all year ‘round. Serve this refreshing shot to your guests to kick off your Canada Day festivities.

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2. Bloody Lobster
This bad boy isn’t as messy as it sounds. A unique spin on the traditional Bloody Mary, this cocktail makes use of lobster juice for a unique and delicious taste.

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3. Pink Goose
This libation is another fan favourite that will have you feeling as loose as a Canada goose. This citrus-spiked punch can be served any hot day this summer and will have you and your guests relaxed and refreshed in no time.

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4. BLT Caesar
This Caesar is like a meal in a glass. Lemony, lettuce ice cubes fill and chill this spicy, stout Caesar. But the prosciutto and pepper rimmer is the real feature here—although it takes some elbow grease, the tasty payoff is well worth the effort.

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5. Adam’s Apple
This fragrant and fruity cocktail highlights the apple by pairing its tart sweetness with spicy ginger and aromatic thyme. To make this cocktail extra patriotic, use fresh apple juice from a local variety store and make sure to use Canada Dry ginger ale.

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6. Ginger Rum Shandy
This dandy shandy contains some of Canada’s best ingredients; beer, apple and ginger make this cocktail extra special. The spicy ginger and tart lime cut through the sweetness, creating a perfect cooling effect.

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7. Snow Crab Bloody Caesar
Another take on the Caesar, this one incorporates Snow Crab for a more luxurious presentation, while the Worchestershire sauce, horseradish and steak spice elevate taste. This sublime cocktail is a real crowd-pleaser.

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8. Algoma Apple Martini
This martini is all about the apple. In fact, every single ingredient involved is an apple derivative, right down to the Calvados brandy. But the star player in this concoction is the fragrant apple cider.

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