2004 Ms. Sue-Ann Staff, BSc(Agr) ‘94 | Alumni | University of Guelph

2004 Ms. Sue-Ann Staff, BSc(Agr) ‘94

Judy Maddren

Sue-Ann Staff
BSc(Agr) ‘94

Since earning her undergraduate degree in horticulture in 1994, she has become one of Canada's most decorated winemasters. After graduating from Guelph, Staff diversified her education by earning a graduate degree in oenology at the University of Adelaide in Australia . She worked at several Australian wineries before returning to her family's estate winery in the Niagara region of Ontario. She became winemaker at Pillitteri Estates Winery in 1997 and immediately began to earn accolades for her Cabernet, Merlot and icewines.

Her 1998 vintage Cabernet Franc Family Reserve won gold in Bordeaux, France, and her Merlot snagged top prize in several international competitions. Her Riesling Icewine attained double gold from the American Wine Society, an award presented for the second time in the 32-year history of the competition, indicating that every judge awarded the wine a perfect 20 out of 20 score during the blind, independent tasting.

Pillitteri Estates Winery is now Canada's largest estate producer of icewine, exporting to more than twelve countries, and Sue-Ann Staff's wines are served by four of the top ten restaurants in New York City. When she was named winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards in 2002, she was the youngest winner and the first female to receive the award. In the first ten years of her career, she has won more awards for her wines than many winemakers receive in a lifetime.

That distinction has made her an excellent spokesperson for Ontario's wine industry. Staff appears in Wine Council of Ontario television ad campaigns and makes herself available to speak at wine-related events across the province and the country. She hosts regular wine seminars at Pillitteri Estates, and she spearheads “Women in Gastronomy,” a regular event that pairs women chefs with women winemakers to promote fine wines and gourmet foods as a total meal concept. Last June, the University of Guelph Alumni Association was proud to present Staff with the Alumni Medial of Achievement for her dedication and accomplishments in the wine industry.


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