Overlooking Georgian Bay is “a vision in the making.” This new Canadian wine region born in the midst of the apple orchards of Beaver Valley is an added attraction to Ontario’s busiest ski resort area at Blue Mountain.
While Coffin Ridge is Southern Georgian Bay region’s first winery to open to the public, Georgian Hills Vineyards are also working hard to establish the area as a new wine region. The vision began with tests conducted at four different sites since 1998 by a team made up of Collingwood wine marketer, Robert Ketchin and sixth generation Niagara wine maker, Murray Puddicombe, along with third-generation apple grower John Ardiel.
The testing helped to gain a better understanding of the best potential sites for vineyards, viticulture methods, and grape varieties. In the end John Ardiel made it all a reality by planting the first comercial vineyard of five acres in Beaver Valley at Ardiel Acres. Georgian Hills Vineyards is already producing wine that’s available at local restaurants including Café Chartreuse, Oliver Bonacini, The Pottery, Stuffed Peasant, Hasai and The Falls Inn. They’ve been hard at work!
Today, this estate managed vineyard produces over ten tonnes of grapes each year, and the crop aids hybrid and vinifera vines. Since 2007, twelve further acres of vinifera and hybrid vines were planted at Victoria Corners vineyards and now a full vintage crop is being produced including chardonnay, riesling, gamay and pinot noir. For now, the grapes are shipped to Puddicombe Estate Winery in Niagara, where they are handled by Lindsay Puddicombe, a talented winemaker who graduated from Guelph viticulture school and later from the Niagara College for winemaking under the tutelage of Jim Warren.
Production is expected to ramp up considerably with the 2010 vintage and the next vintage in the fall of 2010 will mostly be fermented and stored at the winery at Victoria Corners on Grey Road 2 where the vineyard cottage will be used for public tastings on Saturdays with the grand opening planned for October 2nd.
If you are a wine connoisseur or interested in the beauty of farming grapes, book a private visit, order wine, and arrange for a tasting by calling 444-5200 or visit their website www.georgianhillsvineyard.ca
By: Melanie Vollick, freelance writer