Growing up in rural Manitoba on the family farm, Don developed a passion for the land very early in life. Encouraged by his mother, Margaret, to believe in himself and follow his dreams, he left the farm in 1962 to make his own way. Working numerous jobs to put himself through university – from painting houses, to digging soil sample pits, to working as a research assistant – he graduated with an Honours Agriculture degree in 1966. It was there that he also met his future wife, Elaine, with whom he shared a vision for a life beyond the family farm.
Having been turned on to Economics during his undergrad, and encouraged by his professors to further his education, Don applied and was accepted into the University of Western Ontario’s prestigious Ivey Business School. Don and Elaine consequently headed to London, ON immediately after their 1966 marriage so that Don could start his MBA.
Following his graduation in 1968, Don embarked on a high-trajectory career path in Marketing and Management, first working in consumer packaged goods for Colgate Palmolive, and then transitioning into the wine business with John Labatt. For the next 10 years, he worked in John Labatt’s wine division, eventually as President of the Canadian business, followed by 3 years as President of the US division. These experiences not only sharpened Don’s understanding of the Canadian wine industry, but working in California also gave him a strong International perspective. Wanting to return back to Canada, Don left Labatt’s in 1982 to lead Fison’s struggling North American horticultural business, spending the next seven years growing Fison North America to a market and category leader.
When the chance to start up his own wine business emerged in 1989, Don could not pass up the opportunity to build and develop his own business. Don, three friends, and 26 fellow employees then pooled their life’s savings to purchase John Labatt’s wine business. With the impending North American Free Trade deal looming, many in Don’s extended network, including those in the banking and investment communities, questioned the timing and rationale behind their decision, suggesting it was absolute lunacy to enter into the Canadian wine industry at that time.
Don only saw opportunity, however. Leading the new business, Don partnered with Alan Jackson to co-found Jackson-Triggs, which then went on to become the most powerful wine brand in Canada. By June 2006, this part of Don’s career came to a close. Instead of retiring, Don opted to apply his 35+ years of experience as a wine industry leader to once again pursue his entrepreneurial passion in the business he loved. With that, Don embarked on the next chapter of his life – the culmination of his life’s work – to start with his family Culmina Family Estate Winery in 2006.
Don now leads Culmina as Co-Proprietor & Principal. His experience and knowledge serve as a lighthouse not only for the family business, but also for the Triggs family itself, providing the strategic guidance and support that everyone needs to stay on track, ensuring that everyone involved is able to see the big picture and not lose sight of the forest for the trees.
Don can be found walking through Culmina with his dog, Barry; salmon fishing with his twin brother off the coast of BC; wandering through contemporary art galleries; visiting antique furniture shops looking for rare wine glasses; traveling with his wife Elaine to visit his four grandchildren, or listening to opera in the living room as he peruses one of his art books.