NIAGARA IN A GLASS: Serving Niagara wine a passion, not a job

At some point in our young lives we have those moments of forward reflection, when we dream of what we want to become when we grow up.

Some of us have the typical adventurous notions of action, with becoming a firefighter or a race car driver, and then some are more cerebral, wanting to be a scientist or a doctor who saves the world.

So what happens when your father is a famous chef and you are brought up in the world of food?

In the Treadwell household, young James Treadwell did find joy in the food service world, but not whisking the perfect Béarnaise, but instead found his passion in the world of wine.

James Treadwell is shown at Treadwell’s Farm to Table Cuisine. (Craig Youdale/Special to Postmedia Network)

To some of us this seems so obscure and specific in its opportunity, but this was not an issue for Treadwell, and following this appetite to learn about all things wine was a labour of love. After completing his degree at Carleton University in Ottawa, he stayed in Ottawa to take his sommelier certification at Algonquin College. Since that time Treadwell has devoted his career to always learning and growing in his role.

He continued his learning curve with Wine Spirit Education Trust training, which continues today, but it was his work directly with wine expertise that fuelled the further desire to carve out his own destiny. Treadwell found himself at Queens Landing Hotel in Niagara-on-the-Lake as a sommelier working with dedicated mentors Sam Wiebe and Christophe Hermez. These two mentors showed him how to lead a dining room, build a wine portfolio, manage staff and, most important, create an experience for the guest.

You might think of a sommelier as someone who is only for handling expensive wine, or the stuffy guy with the silver cup around his neck, but they are so much more. A sommelier is the quarterback of a great restaurant who leads a team of wine professionals and servers, who focuses on customer satisfaction, and takes great pride in not only giving a great experience to guests, but also a responsibility to provide education to a guest who is excited to learn.

Treadwell points to an incredible thirst for knowledge as his driving force that has seen recognition as Top 30 under 30 from Ontario Hostelry Institute, Top 40 under 40 from Niagara Business Link and entrepreneur of the year from Niagara Entrepreneur of the Year Awards. He is a proud partner with his legendary father Stephen at Treadwell’s Farm to Table Cuisine, in Niagara-on-the-Lake, and each day works at building a delicious list of wine choices, while making sure each and every guest has a memorable experience.

Of course, Treadwell’s champions Niagara’s amazing array of producers, but you can also find some cool and interesting international choices on the extensive wine list of more than 200 labels.

Asked what the driving force behind his choices is, he cites an array of influences highlighted by showcasing Niagara, but they all come down to making that special event, business luncheon or celebratory dinner an occasion to remember with the perfect pairing of fermented excellence.

— Craig has been in the food and beverage industry for three decades as a chef, restaurateur, professor, international competitor and now dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute at Niagara College. His passion for all things food and wine has led him to Niagara to lead the Institute to become the world’s foremost educator in fermentation sciences and culinary arts.