This is an article from the front page of the Halifax Chronicle Herald on May 15, 2012

Rather than let an opportunity sit on the shelf, one of Nova Scotia’s leading winemakers has uncorked a deal too good to pass up.

Veteran food industry and brand expert Carl Sparkes announced Tuesday he’s purchased an undisclosed stake in Jost Winery through his new company, Devonian Coast Wineries Ltd.

Working out of his office at the winery in Malagash, Cumberland County, Sparkes takes the lead as the company’s strategic and business development partner while second-generation owner Hans Christian Jost will redirect his focus to the production side of the business.

“We were looking to partner with someone who had the expertise to take it to the next level,” Jost said Tuesday.

“I’ve always seen myself as a production guy — pushing pencils and driving a desk is not my thing — so in a province that’s blessed with such a wonderful variety, we’re hoping this partnership can maybe help us lead the charge across the country.”

Sparkes was previously managing director of the Atlantic division of Boardroom Metrics Inc. He said Tuesday he will retain an advisory role with the national firm.

Originally from Newfoundland, Sparkes has more than 20 years of experience in the food industry, including a lead role in three initiatives that took regional brands to the national level.

As president of the bakery and pasta division at Canada Bread, Sparkes ushered Olivieri Fresh Pasta from a boutique brand in 1995 to a leader in its category in under two years.

His LinkedIn profile states he has an interest in all things ocean, food and wine.

Sparkes has long been a student of the industry, having visited more than 200 wineries worldwide. He said Tuesday that owning a seaside farm is a childhood dream realized.

The similarities between the food and wine industry will serve Sparkes and the Jost brand well, Jost said.

“This is a long-term plan. We’re hopeful we can hook into the energies of some of our local competitors.

“If someone of his calibre is willing and wanting to invest in the Nova Scotia wine industry, I think that shows a lot of confidence in a latent industry.”

With 16 wineries and counting in the province, Sparkes accepts the task of promoting the Jost brand and the Nova Scotia wine industry as a welcome challenge.

He said the Jost brand punches well above its weight in a crowded market.

“This is not a business that needs me in terms of helping it continue on the growth pattern it’s been on,” Sparkes said.

“There are literally hundreds of acres of vineyards that are independently owned that frankly wouldn’t exist without the Jost family and the Jost brand. There’s an untold story with respect to this brand and its heritage here in Nova Scotia.”

Founded in 1983 by Hans Wilhelm Jost, Jost Vineyards is the largest and oldest winery in Nova Scotia. Jost operates two wineries, its own vineyards and has several grape-growing partners throughout the province.

Jost products are available throughout the Maritimes and in Manitoba and Alberta.

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