Marc and Anne Alton purchased the property in September 2005, moving their young family from Bright’s Grove to Aberarder Line in Plympton-Wyoming, with a goal of creating a vineyard and winery, making delicious wines and developing a new wine region. Marc knew that geographically, this location in the middle of the world’s wine belt, the zone between 41 and 44 degrees north, would be an ideal one.
Preparations began right away that Fall so that planting could start in Spring 2006. A test acre was hand planted with more than fifteen different varieties, including Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay, as well as hybrid cold temperature varieties like Frontenac and Marechal Foch. A second test acre followed in Spring 2007, with even more varieties including Shiraz and Baco Noir. The vineyard was then thoughtfully planned out, with an additional acre hand planted in each of the next four years. Today, we have six acres of producing vines.
Once the vines were mature enough to harvest for winemaking, the real fun began! We handcraft 13 to 17 different wines each year.
Our winery is housed in a century-old drive shed, where we process and age our wines. A Barrel Room was added in Fall 2016, and our Tasting Room and Wine Store were expanded in early 2018.
The love of agriculture runs deep for the Durand family, and everything we do is with the utmost care and attention to detail, including the growth and care of our 5 acre vineyard. In the well-turned soil of the old Durand farm, our vineyards are tended to and harvested by hand, serving as a traditional means of winemaking and also as means to keep our family close, and close to yours with each bottle we produce.
Planted in 2015, with two seasons of successful harvesting, our first bottling happens in the spring of 2019 in time for our Vineyards to open to the public, ready to welcome locals and tourists alike to enjoy our wine and the old family farm with us.
They said you couldn’t build an estate winery in Huron County. No one ever has before. They said to leave the winemaking to the winemakers. Stick to what you already know. They said Huron County doesn’t need such a destination. Who will visit?
But “they” don’t know our family, our passion or our drive.
We are the horse you didn’t see coming. The trailblazer determined to carve a new path.
We are Dark Horse Estate Winery!
Surrounded by the beauty of Huron County and incredible one-of-a-kind architecture, our winery will give people a chance to leave every day with all its stresses and commitments behind. Instead, they’ll experience something new. Something inviting. Something extraordinary.
Like offering local cheeses paired with our wines in an outdoor picnic. Or a stroll through the vineyard, glass in hand. Or a tasting room where guests can witness winemaking firsthand.
By continually striving to go beyond the conventional, we’ll gain a network of dedicated visitors who return year after year to this place that’s like a second home. A place where we always recognise a returning face. A place that’s warm and inviting.
And whether they’re here for those extra special occasions or to just escape the day, they’ll always be shown the small-town hospitality they’ve come to expect from Huron County.
But it won’t be easy. It will take good old-fashioned hard work, perseverance and working together with our staff, our stakeholders and our community to build this beautiful destination. We’ll stay true to our values by letting the experts be experts. Collaborating creatively with our partners. And learning from each other.
Producing a quality wine as inviting and uncomplicated as the place that bore it, the kind of wine that people genuinely want to drink.
Huron County’s first winery, just outside of Clinton, offers tours of its vineyards by the owners and tastings of any of their five wines, and three ciders.
Catherine and Jim Landsborough and their son Brian pioneered winemaking in Huron when they turned a passion for wine and a problematic piece of land on their farm on Sanctuary Line, just east and south of Clinton, into the county’s first vineyard. When the vine became productive, they opened Maelstrom Winery and Cidery several years ago and now have a retail store and hold tours of the vineyard and winery. Wine tastings are available during store operating hours for groups
Since the inaugural vine planting in 2015, Chef and Owner-Innkeeper turned viticulturist Frank, has lead a team of family, friends and community volunteers in tending to a family of grapes inclusive of Marquette, Petite Pearl, Riesling, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Frontenac Gris, Siegerrebe (Victory Vine), Frontenac Blanc and La Crescent.
While inspiration for a vineyard at Hessenland bloomed many moons ago while Frank and wife, Liz, spent a semester in the south of France, the blue clay soil in St. Joseph and the unique offerings of the Lake Huron breeze have shaped the terroir for Schatz Winery. Planting hybrid vines that are resilient and healthy in this agriculturally rich farm land captures Schatz Winery’s offerings; excellent vines-turned-wines steadily thriving on a ‘quality over quantity’ mantra is the result!
A little bit about us. We moved from Winnipeg, Manitoba to London in June of 2008 for my wife to complete her medical residency at Western University. We always had a plan to open a winery, and upon starting a rural residency in Goderich Ontario, my wife fell in love with both the medical practice and community of Goderich.
As luck would have it, an initiative to bring grapes back to Huron County had been started years before, and small things like investigating the micro-climate and test plots had already been. We decided to plant roots in Huron County.
After three years of trying to find the right property, the perfect location presented itself: 45 acres with 3 buildings that could work as a home, storage and retail. The property was in desperate need of being cleared, as it had been left fallow for the past 30 years. Weeds, Sumac and large trees had taken over. After spending the first two summers fighting back nature, it was ready for planting. In 2016, 5 different variety of vines: Cabernet Franc, Baco Noir, Vidal, Chardonnay and Reisling were planted. In 2017 we started construction of the winery.
Twin Pines is a 50-acre property located in Lambton Shores, Bosanquet Township in the County of Lambton. It is set on the sandy loam beach ridge (known as Fox Soil) between the shores of the old Lake Burwell and a limestone dolomite ridge. The land is fertile with naturally occurring aquifers and is perfect for growing fruit. The farm has been established at a unique division point between the Great Lakes Forest Region and the Carolinian Forest Region. You will find trees from both regions such as Shag Bark Hickory, Tulip Trees, Butternut, Black Walnut and several Oak species. Conifers include red and white Cedars and Pines. Plant life includes wild Black Caps, Elderberries, Strawberries and Raspberries. This area is abundant with White-Tailed Deer, Coyote, as well as Red Fox and we are on the flight and feeding path of the Arctic Tundra Swans.
Twin Pines has approximately 40 acres planted in fruit. Currently, the farm produces well over one million pounds of apples from 25 commercial varieties as well as nearly 15 heritage and speciality cider varieties. Twin Pines is designated an Integrated Pest Management orchard. Naturally, this means that Mark and Mike are certified and trained to count and identify bugs in the orchards and determine when (if at all) to protect the apples with a spray. This approach to fruit growing allows for an incredible reduction in over-spraying and over-use of pesticides. We are proud to be an IPM orchard and provide fruit that has as little additional sprays as possible.
With vineyards first planted in 1970, Redi and Roberto Quai drew on their European heritage to establish this beautiful country estate. Roberto and his wife, Lisa, opened the doors of the winery in 1990 and welcomed you to experience the flavours and bounty of Lake Erie's pastoral north shore.