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Joe Beef Group Cuts Ties With Prominent Winemaker Accused of Sexual Misconduct

The move comes after a major investigation from the Globe and Mail

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Norman Hardie Winery/Facebook

An investigation into alleged misconduct from prominent Canadian winemaker Norman Hardie has led to Joe Beef owner David McMillan cutting all ties to Hardie’s wine brands.

The Globe and Mail released a major investigation Wednesday morning, detailing numerous allegations of sexual misconduct by Hardie, from inappropriate remarks to unwanted sexual contact. The exclusive is worth reading in full — many of the allegations centre around Hardie’s eponymous winery in Ontario’s Prince Edward County, which the Globe describes as “a clubhouse for celebrity chefs and food-industry power players”.

The newspaper interviewed more than 50 people with connections to Hardie, with three women alleging unwanted sexual contact, and another 18 mentioning other sexual misconduct, such as Hardie deliberately showing them pornography. Hardie denied many of the claims but conceded that his behaviour could have been more professional in certain situations, telling the Globe “I have been made aware...that our workplace was not as professional as it should have been”.

Given Hardie’s high profile in the food and wine spheres, the news has set off other events: one of the allegations centres on an event for Hardie’s wines at Joe Beef in 2016, where server Sarah Reid said the winemaker groped her (backed up by additional confirmations from her friends and father). Reid never reported the incident to her bosses at the restaurant.

The Globe took this allegation to David McMillan, and he called it “gutting”, and said he had heard Hardie make lewd comments at his winery, and regretted not saying something. In a tweet after the story was published, McMillan implied that further comments didn’t make it to the Globe’s story, calling it “the tip of the iceberg”.

Per the Globe, Joe Beef removed all Norman Hardie wines from its restaurants when the allegations came to light earlier this year (although the restaurant did not publicize that move). Quebec wine distributor Vin Dame-Jeanne, where McMillan is a stakeholder, has also stopped working with Hardie.

And that seems to be just the beginning: NDG’s Monkland Tavern tweeted that it would ditch all Hardie products, and critic Lesley Chesterman noted that she had spoken to an unnamed restaurant that said it would do the same. Some Toronto restaurants have also publicly said they plan to no longer carry his wines. However, the ex-owner of Montreal’s Agrikol, Jen Agg (who has instigated similar boycotts in the past) also took to Twitter to comment that she was hoping for a much larger reaction from men in the industry.

This appears to be the first major moment that the #metoo movement has hit Canada’s hospitality world: while some accusations of sexual misconduct have surfaced (for example, against the owner of top Ottawa restaurant Riviera), no such scandals have featured a large number of complainants, as with the Hardie investigation.

Joe Beef

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