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BIPOC Scholarship created in memory of winemaker Paul Pender

June 20, 2023

Award-winning winemaker and Niagara College alumnus Paul Pender, who passed away suddenly in February 2022 at the age of 54, is being honoured through a scholarship that will help the next generation of diverse winemakers.

Moray Tawse, founder of Tawse Winery in Vineland where Pender was the Director of Viticulture and Winemaking at the time of his passing, has made an endowed gift of close to $200,000 to create “The Tawse Winery Paul Pender Memorial BIPOC Student Award.”

The donation will fund annual $10,000 scholarships for BIPOC students in NC’s Winery and Viticulture Technician program, which Pender graduated from in 2006.

“Paul’s passion for winemaking was unmatched and his talents directly contributed to our winery’s success early on,” said Tawse. “We will be forever indebted to Paul for his dedication and friendship, and we look forward to supporting Niagara College students in his honour.”

Read Also: Paul Pender: A champion of organic winegrowing (a tribute)

“Niagara College is grateful to Moray Tawse for his generous donation in memory of our inspirational alumnus Paul Pender,” said NC President Sean Kennedy. “Paul was a role model for so many students and a shining example of the trailblazing professionals coming out of our wine programs.”

Pender was known for his easy going and positive nature. The respected organic winemaker gave generously of his time and expertise to mentor aspiring professionals in the industry and was welcoming to everyone.

Through The Tawse Winery Paul Pender Memorial BIPOC Student Award, Tawse hopes to help expand access into the Winery and Viticulture Technician program, especially for people who are underrepresented in the beverage alcohol industry, including Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, people with disabilities, first generation Canadians, LGBTQ2S+ and non-binary gender diverse people.

Inspirational Niagara College alumnus Paul Pender

Pender was part of the second graduating class of the College’s trailblazing Winery and Viticulture Technician program. After completing his studies, his career quickly blossomed within the heart of Niagara’s booming wine industry, and he became one of the most celebrated winemakers in Canada.

Paul Pender

Paul Pender was one of Canada’s most celebrated winemakers.

He joined Tawse Winery in 2005 and became head winemaker in 2006. Under his leadership, Tawse achieved EcoCert Organic and Demeter Biodynamic certification and was named Canadian Winery of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2016 – repeat wins that were unprecedented.

Pender was awarded the prestigious title of Winemaker of the Year at the Ontario Wine Awards in 2011 and 2022. Also in 2022, the Ontario Wine Awards introduced a special trophy in recognition of Pender’s legacy called the Paul Pender Memorial ‘Rising Star’ Award, given to recipients who demonstrate the qualities that made Pender a winemaker’s winemaker – talent, selfless generosity, mentorship, and innovation. NC alumni from the Winery and Viticulture Technician program received the award in 2022 and 2023. The inaugural recipient was alumnus Alex Baines (2015), head winemaker at Hidden Bench Estate Winery in Beamsville who spent time working with Pender at Tawse Winery. In 2023, the award went to alumna Brooke Husband (2018), Assistant Winemaker at Domaine Queylus in St. Ann’s.

Through the years, Pender kept close ties with his alma mater, returning to the College on several occasions to speak to students and share his expertise. He also participated in two advisory committees for the Winery and Viticulture Technician program and consulted with the College regarding its Artisan Distilling program.

“Paul was one of our brightest alumni who always had his door open for mentoring the next generation,” said Gord Arbeau, NC’s Vice President Advancement. “It’s fitting that a scholarship in his name will support future professionals in the wine industry.”

Niagara College has a full-time enrolment of more than 10,000 students from over 95 countries, who study in 130 diploma, certificate and bachelor degree programs at specialized campuses in Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake. Niagara College is also involved in educational projects and partnerships around the world and is consistently ranked among Canada’s top 10 colleges for research funding. Learn more at


with files from Niagara College


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