College chef professor to be honoured with VQA Promoters award in Education

The wine industry is raising a glass to Niagara College chef professor Peter Blakeman.

Blakeman will be honoured with a Vitners Quality Alliance (VQA) Promoters Award, which acknowledges those who celebrate the Ontario VQA wine industry with enthusiasm, constructive input and unsolicited promotion. He was recently announced as the winner, and will be presented with the award on Friday, May 6 at the annual Experts Tasting, managed by the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University.

Manager and chair of the VQA Promoters Awards Barbara J. Tatarnic, from Brock’s Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute, noted that Blakeman was selected for the award due to his professional achievements, commitment and passion for the grape and wine industry.

“Peter's professional achievements and commitment to the grape and wine industry make him a natural fit to join the growing group of VQA promoters,” said Tatarnic. “As our winner in the Education category, Peter devotes a significant amount of time to ensuring all of his culinary, hospitality and food science students at Niagara College are exposed to Ontario VQA wines through both dedicated tastings as well as food and wine pairings. With passion and dedication to the Ontario VQA grape and wine industry, Peter takes great pride in going into much detail about the wineries’ stories.”

Blakeman, who currently lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake, has been a chef professor with the College’s Canadian Food and Wine Institute since 2003.

"Peter brings over 30 years of teaching experience to the classroom each day at CFWI and his passion and love for wine is evident in how he can bring that same excitement into the classroom for our culinary students,” said Craig Youdale, dean of the Canadian Food and Wine Institute. "The wine industry is an integral part of our region and having educators like Peter who bring that knowledge is vital to our students. This award recognizes his commitment to excellence in teaching and spreading the word about VQA wines to our culinary students and celebrating the talent right here in Niagara.”

Blakeman was instrumental in creating the first wine course for the College’s culinary students in 2005. To further support Niagara’s wine industry, he incorporated the Wine Council of Ontario manual and test as a standard into the course, which includes more than 50% VQA wines from 29 different wineries covering all the VQA appellations in Niagara. About 144 second-year culinary students take the course each year – more than 1,500 since 2005.

“I feel honoured and privileged to have contributed to developing dynamic curriculum and laying the foundation of wine education for so many culinary students over the years,” said Blakeman. “It means a great deal to be recognized by your peers, although I realize there are many worthy candidates that deserve this award as well.”

Prior to arriving at Niagara College, Blakeman – who is originally from Toronto – was a chef professor at George Brown College from 1986 to 2003.

Founded in 2006, the VQA Promoters Awards were conceived to honour and celebrate promoters of VQA wines at a gathering of their peers and in front of representatives of the wine industry that benefit from their efforts. The VQA Promoters Awards are executed by a volunteer industry committee managed through the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute at Brock University. 

Niagara College offers more than 100, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit