A small winery on the northeast coast of Newfoundland is about to expand its production to ship thousands of cases of its products to China.
"We've just signed a deal and we're pretty excited," confirmed Grant Young, the owner of Auk Island Winery in Twillingate.
The company makes wines with names such as the Funky Puffin, Moose Juice and Krooked Cod, using such local fare as blueberries, partridgeberries and bakeapples.
Young said the company will ship 4,000 cases of its products to China in 2013, and increase its shipments from 10,000 to 12,000 cases in 2014.
Chinese connection made through local company
Young said the China connection came about through his contact with NewLab Life Sciences, a local pharmaceutical company.
A division of NewLab Sciences, Wely Health became interested in buying the antioxidant-rich wild blueberry skins left over after Auk Island's winemaking process to use for natural health products the company exports to China.
Then Chinese buyers, through NewLab Sciences, tasted Auk Island's wines and liked them.
Auk Island Winery, which employs seven people, produces 12,000 cases of wine annually, but Young said he had recently installed new equipment with an eye to expanding its markets.
"We've been looking at other parts of Canada, but we've leapfrogged from Canada to China," said Young.
He added that the Chinese contract should create two or three extra jobs.