George William Bligh Hostetter was born 3 June 1922 to parents Jacob George Bligh Hostetter and his wife Rose Baker Hostetter. The family lived on the original land granted to the Hostetter family as United Empire Loyalists.

In 1934 Jacob Hostetter sold this farm to the T.G. Bright Co. Ltd. and so began an almost 5 decades long connection between the Hostetter family and the T.G. Bright & Co. Limited. After the sale of the property, Jacob Hostetter became a farm manager for Bright's.

Click here to view the George Hostetter fonds RG 705 finding aid:

George Hostetter's longstanding relationship with Bright's Wines began in 1936 when he worked for Brights Wines as student until he became a full-time employee in 1940. Hostetter received his formal training at the University of Toronto at Guelph in 1944. He received a B.Sc. in Agriculture. After his graduation George was well positioned to enter full time employment with Brights under the tutelage of chief scientist and director of research, Adhemar de Chaunac. As a fulltime employee he undertook research in vine culture by examining and testing spraying, pruning, fertilizing, and trellising techniques. The bulk of these groundbreaking results of these trials are included in these records.

In 1946 George was appointed director of viticultural research and in 1959 added manager of vineyard operations to his portfolio. In 1978 he was appointed director of research.

The Research program which he has developed for Brights Wines Limited has involved the testing of over 600 wine grape varieties plus several hundred seedling varieties. From this program he has selected 40 varieties for Brights Wines which have formed the base for the development of world class wines in Ontario.

During the 1950's he developed new methods of pruning, training and thinning of clusters to ensure high quality grapes and helped to develop more winter hardiness in both the vinifera and vinifera hybrid varieties. As Director of Viticultural Research, developed with his staff, new insect and disease management programs to ensure grape quality and survival of the vines. The information developed through this research has been freely shared with other members of the Ontario wine industry in an effort to upgrade the quality of all Ontario wines.

Early research and development of grape growing techniques included collaboration with many North American and European wine organizations. Bright's Wines maintained strong professional connections to grape growers in the Upper New York region as well as in Europe. As part of this relationship Hostetter became a frequent contributor to articles about the cultivation and testing of grape varieties that would thrive and produce for the North American wine market.

Under Hostetter's guidance Bright's was the first to introduce vinifera grapes to the Canadian market. This introduction was to replace the long-standing Lambrusca grapes that had previously been the dominant source of early wines and grape beverages in Canada. Because of this groundbreaking introduction Bright's became a world-class producer of table wines for the Canadian market. It also encouraged the incredible growth of wine making in the Niagara region and beyond.

Hostetter was a contributor to several professional publications like "Canadian fruitgrower and gardener". He also contributed wine related columns to the Niagara Falls Review under the column "Wine Lines", and to the seniors publication 50 and over in Niagara, under the column "Libations".

George Hostetter was the first Canadian to receive the American Wine Society Award of Merit in 1979 “for his achievements bringing into commercial production vinifera and hybrid varieties in North Eastern America, and his leadership in establishing the first successful vineyard of pure vinifera varieties in the northeast growing area of this continent”.

In 1982 Hostetter was named Chevalier No. 818 I the Confrerie de la Chaine de Rotisseurs by grand chancellor Jean Valby of Burgundy, France.

Hostetter retired from Brights in 1986 after a more than 40-year association. He remained active in the wine industry by creating his own consulting company, VinTech Associates and consulted on the creation of a new winery on the Willowbank estate in Queenston, Ont. and other projects. [source: New Winery on Willowbank estate, Tony Aspler, Toronto Star, 1986]

At a ceremony on 29 April 1987, George William Bligh Hostetter was awarded the Order of Canada. “In low-key fashion, Mr. Hostetter downplayed his individual achievement, saying an award of this kind is ‘the result of working with other people’ “.

Click here to view the George Hostetter fonds finding aid

Recent Submissions

  • Niagara Grape and Wine Festival 40th Anniversary, September 20th-29th, 1991

    A collection of pictures and articles commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival. The booklet contains: A message from the Festival Staff, advertisements from sponsors, an article on Jonathan Welsh (Honourary Parade Marshall), benefactors of the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival, Royal Order of the Grape - Donald Ziraldo, celebratory luncheon article to honour Dr. Terry White, A message from King William, 1990 Festival Queen's Address (Christie Salmon), list of past Grape Kings, Mr. Grape article, events program, 1991 Queen Contestants, Salute to 40th Anniversary, Grape and Wine Festival Royal Family, winery map, winery highlights (Andres Wines Ltd, Brights, Cartier Wines and Beverages, Chateau des Charmes, Ferndale Vineyards Inc., Henry of Pelham, Inniskillin Wines, Konzelmann, London Winery, Reif Estate Winery, Vineland Estate Wines, Stoney Ridge Cellars, Welch's, Wiley Brothers Ltd, Hillebrand Esates Winery).
  • Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Program, 1983

    A program for the 1983 Niagara Grape and Wine Festival.
  • Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Program, 1952

    A copied program for the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival of 1952.
  • Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Program, 1979

    A program for the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival of 1979.
  • Niagara Grape and Wine Festival Program, 1971

    City of St. Catharines; Canadian Wine Institute; Ontario Grape Growers (1971)
    A program for the Niagara Grape and Wine Festival of 1971.
  • Training Experiment

    Bright Wines Ltd. (1965)
    A collection of experiments and results from training vines at Bright Wines vineyard. Included are lists of variety, location, row and vine no. and tons/acre first year.
  • Vine virus investigations

    Bright Wines Ltd. (1960s)
    Several investigations into viruses in vines over the 1960s.
  • Annual Reprot T.G. Bright and Co., Limited 1970

    T.G. Bright & Co., Ltd. (1970)
    An annual report for T.G. Bright and Co. Ltd and subsidiary companies for the year 1970.
  • Annual Report for the Year End March 31st, 1955

    T.G. Bright & Co., Ltd. (1955)
    The annual report for T.G. Bright and Co. Ltd and subsidiary companies for the year 1955.
  • Pioneering site selection for tender fruit through infrared thermal imagery

    Anderson, Emil A.; Hostetter, George W.B. (1979-12)
    An article about the selection of land for tender fruit growing in Niagara. A study was produced that includes temperature analysis.
  • Proposed Willowbank Winery Parameters

    Hostetter, George W.B. (1986-02-19)
    A document proposing the Willowbank Winery parameters, 19 February 1986. The document includes: site selection, general production facilities, platform scale, main buildings information, utilities and services, crushing operation, pressing operation, tank-processing area, tanks, catwalks, equipment and hoses, chilling of wine, hot room, cold room, laboratory, receiving and shipping, warehousing, bottling room, barrel area, tasting room and retail facility, amenities for employees, office, municipal sewers, garbage.
  • Kold Beer - Libations

    Hostetter, George W.B. (n.d.)
    An article by George W.B. Hostetter about the recent development of micro-breweries in Ontario. He specifically discusses Sculler Brewing Company run by Michael Driscoll. Driscoll acquired the experience of Brewmaster George Kold to assist to produce a premium beer and (at the time) was the only brewery set to use the complete German technique for beer production.
  • Brights Wines - Leaders in Canadian Wine Making - Fine Canadian Wines since 1874

    Hostetter, George W.B. (1981-10-08)
    A typed notice by George W.B. Hostetter about the accomplishments of Bright Wines over the years. He created a list of seventeen "firsts" or important facts about Bright Wines.
  • Our Experience with French Hybrid Grapes in Canada

    Hostetter, George W.B. (1964-01-22)
    A report presented by George W.B. Hostetter at the New York State Horticultural Society meeting of 22 January 1964. The report discusses the introduction of French hybrids to Ontario in the 1930s and the processes that were developed to maintain the grapes.
  • Improved Pruning and Training Practices for Grapes

    Hostetter, George W.B. (1955-01)
    A report by George W.B. Hostetter discussing balanced pruning which is a "refinement of present pruning methods to secure an increase in yield, and can be used with any training system". Hostetter charts out the number of buds to leave when pruning and also mentions new methods of training (four or six-arm Kniffin, Fan, Chautauqua).
  • Grape Disease and Insect Problems in 1956

    Hostetter, George W.B. (1956-04-23)
    A report produced by George W. B. Hostetter about the grape disease and insect issues of 1956. Hostetter discusses Dead-Arm disease, downy mildew, powdery mildew, and grape berry moths.
  • The Effect of Industrial and Urban Development on Grape Production in the Niagara Peninsula

    Hostetter, George W.B. (1956-03-22)
    A report discussing the effect of industrial expansion on grape production in the Niagara Region post World War II. Hostetter includes tables with projected loss of acreage due to urban expansion and the types of soils that would be lost for grape growing.
  • Photograph of George Hostetter at his retirement party

    A photograph from the retirement party of George Hostetter, 1986. Included in the photograph are (l to r): Nelson Shaulis, Art Neff, George Hostetter, Oliver Bradt, Emil Anderson.
  • Photograph - John Ghetti conducting soil analysis

    A photograph of student John Ghetti conducting a soil analysis in the lab.
  • Photograph - Three winery workers add sugar to grape juice – first stage of wine production, 1950

    A photograph of three winery workers adding sugar to grape juice as they begin the first stage of wine production, 1950.

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