Dude, D’Ont Poke the Bear

Andrewvon Teichman. Photo Natalie von Teichman.
Andrew von Teichman. Photo Natalie
von Teichman.

When still youngsters, long before they met and joined forces as seasoned entrepreneurs, a young Allan Jackson and Andrew von Teichman were each jarred by unpleasant experiences of being bullied.

Fast forward to 2009, when they were both at a crossroads in their decades-long Canadian wine industry careers. Allan tried test-driving retirement while Andrew decided that becoming an entrepreneur was preferable to climbing the corporate ladder.

A mutual friend suggested they meet. Instantly, they bonded over their early encounters with bullying. Subsequent discussions dug deep into exploring business opportunities and ways to support youth dealing with stress and anxiety. The two settled on working together to build a virtual winery, named Generations Wine Company. “With our decades of wine business acumen and Allan’s technical brilliance, we decided to source grapes from the Niagara region and produce wine under our niche label at an existing winery,” Andrew says.

Thus was born D’Ont Poke the Bear. The niche label of their winery’s bestselling D’Ont Poke the Bear wines and ciders is bursting with meaning. The spirited bear, a Canadian for sure, wears an eye patch just as Andrew did as a kid to help heal a vision issue. (The patch is why he was bullied.)

Eye patches, like Andrew’s, along with glasses prescribed by an ophthalmologist, can correct amblyopia, a vision issue present at birth that prevents an eye from sending signals to the brain. Early treatment is essential, and Andrew’s eyesight was corrected by his late teens.

The name of the wine – and not just its symbol of the eye patch-wearing bear – was a happy accident, Andrew explains. “The marketing company misspelled the word don’t. The apostrophe was in the wrong place, but the error had D’Ont conveying the double meaning of ‘do not poke the bear’ and included the short form for Ontario.”

If Allan’s name rings a bell, it should. He, along with Don Triggs, founded Jackson-Triggs Vintners in 1993, one of the pioneers of the Canadian wine industry. Dr. Allan Jackson’s journey and wine business contributions are featured in Linda Bramble’s 2014 book, Niagara’s Wine Visionaries.

Meanwhile, by coincidence, Andrew’s von Teichman family had him working in their Pelee Island winery business as a teen and saw him become a certified sommelier and build the family’s sales through his marketing efforts. So, a passion for wine comes honestly to both Jackson and von Teichman.

At the core of their business is a commitment to giving back. Over the last decade their winery has donated approximately a quarter million dollars to Kids Help Phone. “Kids Help Phone is always open, offering young people across Canada mental health support and a nonjudgmental space to Feel Out Loud,” states the charity’s website. And that’s something to raise a glass to. Learn more: www.dontpokethebear.com.

About Suzanne Park 60 Articles
Suzanne Park is a leadership and conversation coach and writer who enjoys bringing to the pages of Leaside Life the unique experiences and community contributions of her Leaside neighbours. Her daughter Zhen, a student at Leaside High School, is also a contributor to Leaside Life with a fresh perspective on her community.