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EV drivers get a charge on Niagara wine tour
2015-09-15
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Mike Zettel, September 15, 2015 - Niagara This Week

NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE – Perhaps one of the best things about having an electric vehicle, said Stefan Schader, is its maintenance schedule – or lack thereof.

With no combustible engine, electric cars are renowned for having much fewer moving parts and thus fewer things that can break down.

"The only service is for windshield wiper fluid," he said.

The gas savings are good, too, and Schader, who purchased a Tesla Model S in January and has put on more than 29,000 kilometres. He figures he's saved $3,000 by not filling up his Mercedes – which offers comparable comfort and performance.

But fuel economy is not the main reason to drive a Tesla.

"You don't buy this car for the savings," he said. "It's a very expensive vehicle. You buy it for the technology."

Schader brought his exemplary piece of technology into the region from his home in Stouffville Monday, as Niagara wineries did their part to pave the way for a greener future by playing host to a convoy of electric vehicle drivers on Sun Country Highway's first Eco Wine Tour.

The tour involved 19 electric vehicle (EV) drivers with the Golden Horseshoe Electric Vehicle Association, who each picked up a passenger at the first stop on the tour, Vineland's Kacaba Vineyard and Winery, which last month became the first winery in Ontario to offer EV charging stations.

Kacaba, along with Stratus Wines & Vineyard and Reif Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake, partnered with Tesla Motors Canada and Sun Country Highway, which provided complimentary charging stations under its Destination Program, and Monday's tour was an opportunity to showcase the infrastructure.

For lunch, the tour stopped at Stratus, which holds the additional environmental distinction of being the world's first LEED certified winery.

Suzanne Janke, Stratus' director of retail and hospitality, said the winery, which just got its station installed in the past week, looks forward to welcoming EV drivers and their passengers in the future. A wine tour, she said, is an ideal way for the drivers to pass the time while their vehicles are being recharged.

"We're going to offer a wonderful experience while they charge up," she said.

The tour is also the kick off to Sun Country Highway's larger Eco Wine Tour initiative, which will be rolled out over the next couple years across North America's 24 wine regions.

The initiative was to begin in Okanagan Valley this October, but that leg of the tour had to be cancelled because of the ongoing wildfire crisis in B.C. Instead, it will be back in Niagara this January, and will involve a larger group of wineries.

Sun Country Highway executive vice president and COO Christopher Misch said the goal is operate a series of tours all year, including wineries' less busy shoulder seasons.

"We're looking at 50 weeks of the year," he said. "There's a big appeal for this."

Read the article at Niagara This Week