New Winery Provides Opportunity to add Wine to our Locally-Sourced Meal

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Photo Karen Graham.
Rolling Grape Winery owner John Drew greets customers at his onsite retail outlet where they sample a selection of the wines produced at his new winery located just east of Bailieboro on County Road 2. This entrepreneur is combing a love of food and farming with experience in distribution and distillation to launch a small batch estate wine business on his family farm.

The local diet trend just became more interesting in the neighbourhood as we can now add wine to our list of local food and drink possibilities by toasting our locally grown dinner with a glass of local wine.

After travelling to Toronto working in the food industry, John Drew decided to direct his energies closer to home on his family farm just east of Bailieboro.  In Toronto he worked for Organic Food supplier Blue Goose.   Later he became involved in the early stages of Kawartha Ethanol where he was introduced to the science of distillation.  He decided to combine these skills to the wine business seven years ago, when he planted his first vine trials in the valley at the front of the family property which his family has farmed for two generations.

Vineyards are normally associated with more temperate climates, but this winery is productive not because of global warming but because of more hardy grape developments.  As any grower knows, fighting Mother Nature rarely works, so to maximize the likelihood of thriving plants requires matching plant requirements with site conditions.  The drumlins on the Bailieboro property offer rock and mineral deposits as well as natural springs, an ideal situation for grapes.  The plants do not like to sit in water, so some tile drains have been installed to avoid that issue and even with the varying extreme wet and hot conditions the plants have faced over the past two summers, all plots are doing well.

Even with ideal growing conditions, this is not a business for those seeking immediate gratification.  The vines begin to be viable after five years in the field, so patience is required.  In his seventh year of growing, Drew decided it was time to start to test his business in the market this spring. The vineyard opened in June, offering small batch estate wines on site.

This year if all goes well, Drew will produce up to 100 cases of six different wines, or roughly 6,000 litres in total.  He currently has 10 acres in grapes, and there are no plans to extend that crop to all 150 acres at this farm.  Drew has no aspirations to produce the volume required to sell through the LCBO.  Wine may be the product, but what he really plans to sell is an experience.  The Rolling Grape retail outlet offers “flights” of wine, where visitors can sample small servings of four different wines to help them in their purchase selections.  Drew plans to offer food and wine pairings in the future, and is hosting an event this fall in partnership with Fleming College Culinary students.

All wines produced at Rolling Grapes are varietal- there are no blends, and there is a season to each wine.  One of the earlier and more unusual types, called Amplified Orange, is already sold out.  Despite its name, there is no orange fruit involved.  The name stems from the wine’s colour which is the result of fermenting the white wine grapes with their skins on, resulting in a darker colour.  Other more familiar wine types include a Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and in reds they offer a Marquette, a Baco Noir and a heavier Frontenac Noir.  The Noir varieties are being bottled now.

The winery is located at 260 County Rd. 2 in Bailieboro, and is open Thursday through Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm.  The wines will also be available at the Harvest Dinner hosted by the township on September 22nd, an event hosted in support of the new Community Centre.  Cheers!  KG

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