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Entrepreneur transforms Newfoundland winery

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Marek Krol and the Chief Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich

Twenty years after immigrating to Toronto from his native Poland in 1988, Marek Krol saw the benefits of establishing a business in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Having received a degree in agriculture, in 2009, he started purchasing land, to develop agricultural and organic products.

In 2017, Krol bought Rodriques Winery in Whitbourne, N.L., which was started in 1993 and went on to become Canada’s largest exclusively fruit winery. The wines are kosher certified, sulphite-free and produced from wild berries and pesticide-free fruit.

“The previous owner was getting older and wanted to sell,” said Krol. “We saw the opportunity to grow it from the business it had become and have expanded our offerings and grown the markets in Canada, Europe, the United States and China.”

Now named Frozen In Time Ltd., the company’s 12 employees produce its signature blueberry wine, which is made with wild Newfoundland low-bush blueberries. Cranberry and other berry wines are also part of the expanded family of products that have won a variety of national and international awards. The addition of a traditional European copper pot distillery allows the winery to produce liqueurs, as well.

One area of strong growth, according to Krol, is the company’s Iron Berry division, which produces powders made from blueberries, cranberries and sea buckthorn, a berry that contains more than 190 different nutrients, as well as protein and fatty acids. Among the most nutritious and vitamin-rich fruits known to man, sea buckthorn contains very high levels of vitamin C, about 10 times greater than oranges.

Krol said that one teaspoon of powder is equivalent to almost half a cup of berries.

“We dry the entire fruit berry and the powder can be used as a health supplement, or in baking, mixed with a beverage, added to cereal, muffins, yogurt or smoothies,” said Krol. “The sector is growing big time, such that we can’t keep up with orders. We’re looking at building a new building just to handle the demand.”

The kosher designation has helped Frozen in Time thrive in Ontario, where Krol said their wines are well-known in the Jewish community. Also sold in Alberta and Newfoundland, he’s working on distributing his wines in other Canadian provinces, as well.

“We have no connection yet to Israel, but when the opportunity comes, we’d be very happy to do it,” Krol said, adding that Lubavitch Rabbi Chanan Chernitsky travels from St. John’s every few weeks to certify the production plant.

READ: COUPLE BREAKS GROUND AS KOSHER CRAFT BREWERS

The healthy aspect of the wines and powders appeals to a new generation that’s seeking the highest quality, least processed, most flavorful and naturally preserved foods, Krol said. The production process adds no artificial colours, flavours or sulfites.

The winery, which is open for public tours, sits on the property of the Markland Cottage Hospital, which was built in 1935 as one of 19 cottage hospitals that serve rural communities.

Markland Cottage Hospital was designated as a Registered Heritage Structure by the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2007 and the building has been preserved as closely as possible to its original state. Many locals were born there and enjoy coming to visit their unique birthplace.

Ever the entrepreneur, in 2017, Krol created a television show called Living Wild TV, which is aired on Cottage Life, Travel + Escape and the Outdoor Lifestyle Network. The show is about how to live off the land using natural foods.

In the same year, he also started another show called Cooking for a Cause, in which various celebrities cook natural food for different health and wellness disorders.