SOLD! Located in the newest wine region of Ontario! Lake Huron produces a milder meso-climate along the shoreline, and enhanced growing degree days compared to just a few kilometres inland. Huron County is now home to four newly registered wineries. Invest now in this spectacular 32 acre property on paved road minutes north of Goderich.
Perfect for the aspiring winery owners. Currently nine acres workable, with approximately another seven acres zoned agricultural. Large three acre farmyard, with remaining acres mixed forest with creek running through. Outbuildings include: 18×48 barn with upper level, 54×38 workshop with wood heat & mechanical/auto repair storage, greenhouse & chicken house, professionally landscaped with irrigation. Attention to detail in family home featuring large conservatory with auto irrigation, slate floor, independent climate control, indoor aquarium & waterfall. Custom kitchen with cherry cupboards, ceramic floors, stone countertops, large pantry, appliances included. Formal dining room, living room with hardwood floors, gas fireplace & access to large west deck with tiki hut. Office with own exterior entrance, oversize 2 car insulated garage. Four upper level bedrooms including master with ensuite & access to upper level balcony. Geothermal heat. Must see to appreciate this gem.
White Paper. Lake Huron Shores Viticulture: Growing an Estate Winery in Huron County Lake Huron Shores Viticulture: Growing an Estate Winery in Huron County (downloadable pdf)
There is an increasing global demand for all types of wine and an overall decrease in wine production. Many winegrowers are considering different regions in Ontario to expand or create new wineries. Currently the major wine areas are the Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore (Pelee Island) and Prince Edward County. The land required for a winery is found in a warm climatic zone and is generally aesthetically pleasing which creates a major challenge. Several other type investors such as housing developers and tourist organizations are vying for ownership of these propertiesi. Within Ontario’s West Coast, a new region referred to as The Huron Ridge in Huron County has emerged as a viable option for developing wineries.
Popular wine growing regions such as the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia or Niagara Peninsula in Ontario are in high demand. This demand has driven the land prices up dramatically making it difficult for investors to establish a new winery or expand existing operations. One area of particular interest is the Huron Ridge which has similar soil and climate to that of the Niagara Peninsula and Prince Edward County regions.
The Huron Ridge runs north-south and extends over 60 kilometres from Port Albert to Grand Bend, Ontario. The Huron Ridge, similar to the Niagara Escarpment, is located a few kilometres inland from Lake Huron and has a raised elevation between 500 to 900 meters. The land prices in this area are significantly less than other regions such as Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore or Prince Edward County.
An agricultural study by Dr. Anthony Shaw from the Brock University Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Instituteii analyzes the feasibility of growing grapes on the Huron Ridge. He concludes that Huron County is an ideal microclimate for the cultivation of hybrid and vitis vinifera grapes. The vitis vinifera species is a hardier grape type which was initially developed in Europe for colder northern climates.
A soil study performed by A&L Laboratories Canada Inc. of London, Ontario indicates that optimum soil conditions exist along the Huron Ridge. The soil composition is glacial sediment which contains significant amounts of calcium carbonate and other mineralsiii creating a fertile soil conducive for growing grapes. The soil is similar to popular wine growing regions such as Bourgogne, Medoc, Alsace and Touraine in France.
An economic study produced by Huron County Economic Development Services states that Huron County could become the next wine region of Canadaiv. The report suggests there is a suitable growing environment and existing commercial infrastructure to allow producers to get their products to the market.
There is limited amount of Ontario land which can be used for developing a winery. Many areas are too cold for the successful cultivation of grapes. The suitable regions to develop a winery compete with the need for residential development and the tourism sector. It is a challenge to find a balance between agricultural sustainability, tourism industries and housing expansions.
Developing a winery requires an ideal site location, resources, agricultural and financial knowledge. If people do not possess all the knowledge required, then they must at least have access to the information either by employing experts, pursuing some education curriculum or learning from printed and online resources.
A relationship exists between the lake and site location because the lake water moderates the temperature and contributes to the viability of grape production. A good site location needs to have the right kind of soil with the correct pH levels, mineral and nutrient content. The climate needs to have enough growing days for the grapes and vines to develop to maturity. Additionally, winter temperatures, frost days and precipitation must be reviewed to ensure optimum growing conditions.
The resources necessary are money, labour, materials and equipment. The amount of money required to plant vines is approximately $25,000 per acre plus an average of $3,000-$4,000 per acre for the initial three yearsv. Full production does not occur until year five yet a partial harvest is possible after year three. Material costs include the acquisition of farm equipment (tractor, cultivator), wine making equipment (press, vats, filters), vine growing equipment (trellis, thermal blankets, twine) and the rootstock vines.
A vintner’s agricultural knowledge consists of grape cultivation, soil management, climate awareness and manufacturing techniques to produce the final wine product.
All-encompassing business intelligence is required to start a winery to be able to compete with established enterprises. Investors and growers need to have marketing and financial skills to help them navigate the initial years of no returns on investment (ROI). Some understanding of budgeting and re-investing funds back into the operation is vital for the winery to become prosperous.
Winemaking in Ontario has been practised since the 19th century by early settlers to the area. These winemakers had to find hardier grape varieties that would survive the harsh winter climatesvi. LCBO issued a license in 1974 to the Inniskillen Wineries which accelerated the wine making efforts dramatically. After NAFTA was introduced in 1988, the Ontario wine industry was no longer protected. The floodgates opened and more wineries began to develop hardier vitis vinifera varieties to produce Ontario wines to compete on the global markets.
Peaches were grown in Huron County which supports the idea that a model microclimate exists for grape cultivation. Eventually most peach growers gave up this crop because the fruit ripened two weeks later than the Niagara region discouraging farmers because of low returns. These orchard lands have not been used for the commercial production of peaches for many years, yet the climate and soil support this type of endeavour i.e. growing grapes.
The Huron Ridge has a higher elevation than the Niagara Peninsula and a more temperate climate than Prince Edward County making it an ideal location to establish a winery. By focusing on agricultural zoned land on the Huron Ridge, a buyer can find a prime site location with the precise climatic conditions to support grape production.
Huron County, as part of Ontario’s West Coast, is developed for tourism and draws thousands of visitors each summer to the Lake Huron Shores. With an established set of visitors each year, a newly hatched winery can draw customers to their winery. Another advantage of Huron County is that a mature transportation and road infrastructure system exists, making a winery and the distribution of products feasible.
There is an emerging recognition of the quality of Ontario wines across North America and Europe. Many prestigious Ontario wines are available on the global markets through exportation and at LCBO locations.vii Ice Wine sales have exploded in the last five years with 75% of the world’s production coming from Ontario.
Economic initiatives put forth by the Ontario Government, Huron County Economic Services and industry related organizations help support grape producers across Ontario. Established wineries and new winemakers use these programs for funding, permit applications and distribution of products.
The Ontario Government allocated 4 million dollars to a Marketing and Vineyard Improvement Programviii which covers 35% of the cost to the winery for improvements such as vineyard preparation, technology, upgrades and equipment. Another provincial undertaking is to reduce red-tape and administrative paperwork required to operate a winery. New laws have been passed by the Ontario government allowing VQA wines to be sold in some grocery stores and non-LCBO locations increasing the distribution base for winemakers.ix
Huron County Economic Services are helping vintners and growers by offering expertise and assistance with all aspects of operating a winery. They have partnered with all levels of municipal government and developed a framework to obtain funding, grant permits, understand regulations and purchase land.
Many cooperatives have formed between vintners which perform a range of services from sharing farm equipment and knowledge about harvesting and winemaking. Publications consist of guides on how to start a winery, checklists, VQA regulations and other regulatory body recommendations.
Viticulture is a sustainable industry in Huron County with three wineries growing hybrid and vitis vinifera grapes. The Huron Ridge is an ideal location for producing red, white and ice wines because of the unique soil and climatic conditions. The harsh winters of Huron County express a localized “terroir” which defines how the end product will taste. Terroir is specific to the region and is dependent on the type of soil, climate and rootstock used.
There is an existing customer base from which the winery can draw from as thousands of visitors stop in Huron County each year. Established accommodations, dining facilities and transportation routes in the area help retain visitors and creates more chances of winery visits.
- Site Topography
A certified winery requires a minimum of five acres of tillable land. The ideal location will have up to a 500 metre elevation drop to the lake to help drain cold air.
- Protected land
Windbreaks such as trees prevent cold wind from freezing the vines and extends the growing season.
- Soil Composition
The best soil is sandy loam to provide good drainage to prevent an oversaturation of roots. The soil makeup contributes to the “terroir” to produce a wine’s unique taste.
- Heat Retention of Soil
The ability of the soil to retain heat or reflect heat back up to vines (slope) is optimal. Heat helps the vines develop spring buds and grow healthy fruit.
- Water source for irrigation
A natural water source is the best option to ensure that vines has enough moisture. If natural source is not present, water lines will need to be installed.
- Growing Season
There needs to be enough growing days for grapes to ripen. The season can be extended with the use of thermal blankets and wind machines (to push cold air away).
Buildings are required to store equipment such as tractors, cultivators and chemicals i.e. pesticides and fertilizers and house a production facility.
- Business infrastructure nearby
- Easy access to main highways and transportation routes
Less expensive land along the Huron Ridge allows an established winery to expand operations. A newcomer has a better chance to enter the winemaking world because they can purchase more affordable land in this area. It is difficult to purchase land at reasonably priced land in popular areas such as Niagara Peninsula, Lake Erie North Shore (Pelee Island) or Prince Edward County.
An ideal Huron Ridge site is available for purchase on Sunset Beach Road located four kilometres north of Goderich, Ontario. The topography depicts the land elevation at 700 metres creating the perfect climatic conditions for grape growing.
Nine tillable acres are in prime shape and the area is protected on all four side with mature trees. A spring fed pond onsite provides a water source so no water line installation is required. There are three outbuildings that can be converted into storage facilities, production centre and offices.
Winery operators and vintners in the area created a local cooperative to help a new winery get started. The concept of creating a new Ontario wine region is a prominent theme supported by this cooperative which has also partnered with the Huron County Economic Department.
The distribution network is supported by established transportation routes and major airports such as Pearson International and London International. Urban centres such as Toronto, Kitchener/Waterloo and London are accessible by car within an hour or two.
Local businesses such as restaurants and inns, purchase the locally produced wine to serve in their establishments. Other social and community organizations showcase the local wines and promote the existence of the local wineries at their events.
Contact Pebble Creek Real Estate which is an independent brokerage, locally owned and operated in Goderich, Ontario. Pebble Creek is a forward thinking, technologically modern brokerage offering quality service in an expedient manner. Pebble Creek Real Estate retains the exclusive listing for the Sunset Beach Road property.
Pebble Creek Realtors have over 50 years combined experience, all live within Huron County and are familiar with the local market and trends. The Broker of Record and Director of the Huron Perth Association of Realtors, Monique McIlhargey, is experienced in the buying and selling of unique farm land properties. As an agricultural land owner, she is aware of the challenges faced by today’s farmer.
The agricultural sector, like all of south-western Ontario, has experienced tremendous growth in land values since 2010. Pebble Creek Real Estate is excited to offer this unique property for sale which is ready for the aspiring vintner.
Figure 1: Ontario Grape Growing Regions (Huron County Viticulture Investor Guide, p.1)
Figure 2: Huron County Vineyard Climate Suitability (Huron County Viticulture Investor Guide p.18)
Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Starting a Winery in Ontario, Publication 815, 2003
Narelle Martin, Two Hemispheres Environmental Consulting, Sustainable Winemaking
Ontario: An Environmental Charter for the Wine Industry Eco‐Winegrowing 101, Wine
Council of Ontario, 2007
i Sustainable Winemaking Ontario: An Environmental Charter for the Wine, Narelle Martin, 2007
v www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/busdev/facts/startingawinery.pdf, Ministry of Agriculture and Food
vii Sustainable Winemaking Ontario: An Environmental Charter for the Wine, Narelle Martin, 2007