Barry Brown, a nice Jewish boy from Kitchener Ontario, is one of my closest friends and a very dear chap. He’s also North America’s foremost authority on the wines of Spain. His “Spanish Wine Society” in Toronto is famous for the high quality of the wines it offers its membership and the events at which those wines are tasted. He’s led scores of tours to wineries all over Spain and knows all the major players in the industry there. I’ve walked down the street with him in Jerez and heard people shouting “Eh, Barri” from doorways. He could justify opening a business called “Spain-R-Us.”
Barry’s activities on behalf of Spanish wine and culture have been formally recognized by the King of Spain who has awarded our boy with the “Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit.” I could tell you more, but I’ll leave it to Barry’s kid brother Howard who wrote the following media release. (It looks like Howie has resolved any rivalry he had with his older sibling.) Congratulations, Braunschweiger!!
KING OF SPAIN HONOURS A CANADIAN FOR HIS SUPPORT OF SPANISH WINE & TOURISM
(TORONTO – JUNE 11, 2014) – The Consul-General of Spain, Francisco Pascual de la Parte, will award Toronto-based President of The Spanish Wine Society, Barry Brown, The Officer’s Cross of the Order of Civil Merit on June 29. The presentation will occur at a dinner at Mideastro Yorkville Restaurant in Toronto.
Mr. Pascual de la Parte will honour Mr. Brown on behalf of King Juan Carlos of Spain for Mr. Brown’s 30 years supporting and marketing Spanish wines and tourism to Canadians. He stated: “No other Canadian has done more to promote Spanish wine and tourism than Barry Brown.”
Mr. Brown, 64, is one of only a few Canadians to receive this honour. Past recipients included poet and singer Leonard Cohen.
“Perhaps no one in North America has a better grasp of the soul of Spain than Barry Brown,” said Tony Aspler, one of North America’s most influential wine educators and authors.
Over the last five years, wine sales from Spain to Canada have increased by almost 40 per cent, from $75 million to $113 million in 2013. Spanish wine imports are now the fifth highest into Canada after France, the US, Italy and Australia, surpassing Argentina and Chile.
Mr. Brown has presented over 200 wine events across Canada in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Montreal, Kitchener and Toronto. Mr. Brown shares: “I’ve served over 250,000 glasses of Spanish wine across the country—glass by glass.”
Growth in Canadian tourism to Spain has grown rapidly over the past 10 years. In 2003, 141,825 Canadians visited Spain. By 2013 those numbers had increased to 245,916—a 73% increase.
In addition to wine events in Canada, Mr. Brown, with his Spanish heritage wife Patricia, have organized and led over 25 tours, involving over 600 people to the various wine regions of Spain. They generated approximately $3 million in wine and tourism revenue for the country.
“The combination of interest in Spain’s vinous bounty and Spanish tourism has resulted in an increasing interest in wine tourism in the country,” said Mr. Brown. “There are wineries in Spain attracting over 200,000 visitors annually!”