Aykroyd makes big splash for Niagara wines

Actor Dan Aykroyd, right, is the latest celebrity to get involved in the wine business. And, to respond to the obvious question, not in France, where his alien Conehead character claimed to be from.

The new $12 million Dan Aykroyd Winery will be located in his native Canada. It will be built in Beamsville, in the Niagara wine area, by Diamond Estates, a Toronto company that already owns four wineries -- Birchwood Estate, EastDell Estates, Lakeview Cellars and Thomas and Vaughn.

The winery will be a 45,000-square-foot facility that will include a multi-level hospitality area that will showcase some of Aykroyd's favorite memorabilia from his 30-year film and TV career. The hospitality building and production facility will be designed with a number of environmentally sustainable elements such as a geothermal heating and cooling system and solar lighting.

"This amazing facility is a symbol of my ongoing commitment to helping sustain the growth of the Canadian wine industry," Aykroyd said at the announcement ceremony in Toronto. "I am very proud to lend my name to this winery. It is a true expression of my passion for the world-class wines of the Niagara region."

Aykroyd also announced that two Dan Aykroyd Discovery Series wines, a chardonnay and a cabernet merlot blend, are now available at Liquor Control Board of Ontario outlets. These wines from Niagara are the first to be released as part of the Dan Aykroyd-branded wine portfolio. More are scheduled to be released in the coming months, ranging in price from $15 to $25.

Diamond Estates Wines & Spirits also will be releasing a limited-quantity Dan Aykroyd Signature Reserve series that will range in price from $50 up. No more than 300 cases of any of the Signature Reserve wines will be made and each bottle will be numbered and signed by the winemaker. The first will be a barrel-fermented Niagara Peninsula vidal ice wine.

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