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Building a winery in a non-wine location – following a calling

Building a winery in a non-wine location – following a calling

It’s interesting to note that in the process of making wine, grape vines planted within a meter distance of each other taste differently. Which means winemaking can be as fascinating as growing grapevines.

This week is the story about the origin of a place, Prince Edward County and how it came out to be what it is now, telling a unique story, land found nowhere else in the world.

The story of one of its wineries, Closson Chase wouldn’t be complete without mentioning its topography, soil structure, climate pattern, weather conditions, and passionate people who care about it; all of which combine into one captivating tale of mother nature’s beauty captured in a bottle poured into a glass to be shared, loved, and enjoyed by everyone.

What you will learn from this episode:

  • Find out about winemakers’ struggles and challenges and how they overcome them and learned to manage expectations; and know their responsibility for business sustainability and the environment.
  • Understand the different seasons, climate changes, weather conditions, soil structure and the problem they bring to the vines and what solution is the best.
  • Become aware of the different factors contributing to a wine’s taste and outcome and appreciate the process and the unique story it tells that comes with producing it
  • Learn about the valuable lessons of what it takes to be a winemaker
  • Recognize nature’s role in growing and harvesting grapes and ensuring to approach each process with a humble attitude.
  • Hear of significant considerations to think about in becoming a winemaker fulfilling a goal of producing wine enjoyed and loved by many around the world.

Until the 1990s Prince Edward County was best known as an important fruit and vegetable-growing region. Closson Chase was just one bold idea when a group of intrepid wine industry pioneers rediscovered the region.

After two years spent analyzing County soils, celebrated winemaker Deborah Paskus settled on a plot of land at the intersection of Closson and Chase Roads in Hillier Township. She fell in love with an old dairy farm owned by early Prince Edward County settlers, the Clossons. The site, approximately five kilometres inshore from Lake Ontario, had a perfect six-degree southern slope, good drainage, and gravelly calcareous soil on a limestone base—ideal for cool climate chardonnay and the perfect location for her dream vineyard.

In 1998, Deborah and partners started to build a winery to craft world-class wines. The first vines were planted just one year later in 1999. From then on, Closson Chase has been at the forefront of the Prince Edward County wine industry, producing award-winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.

In 2015 Keith Tyers took the lead as Head Winemaker, moving the winery in a new and exciting direction with a focus on careful cultivation of the land. Firmly believing the crucial work is done in the vineyard to produce exceptional wine, Keith has carried on the traditions of high-density planting, careful canopy management, and low yields. It is Keith’s philosophy that quality fruit will create the purest expression of place.

Connect with Keith Tyers:

Topics Covered:

01:04 – Consistently living up to the goal of producing wine people love and appreciate and which help them replicate a beautiful experience

04:35 – Understanding the Prince Edward County topography and soil type giving rise to the uniquely excellent wines produced in each area

09:22 – Producing more costly wine at Closson Chase [and the interesting story behind it]

14:22 – The challenges a winemaker faces and the three weather climates that impact the grape vines

21:21 – What you should know about grafted vines and the wines being produced from them

24:09 – Factors that go into winemaking and how they affect the outcome of the wine

27:23 – Keith shares valuables lessons for one to consider when contemplating getting a full-time career in the wine industry

32:41 – What you should understand about being a winemaker [and the greatest source of one’s gratification]

Quotes from Keith Tyers:

“I think sustainability is key for everything that we do in respecting the land, the people, the place, and the business.” – Keith Tyers

“When you start to manipulate the environment, you start to tell a different story.” – Keith Tyers

“When you’re involved with the land as much as you are in grape growing, you can’t help but have a connection to the place. And you feel it when stuff is not going the way it should, you feel it when things are going right. It’s about trusting your instinct.” – Keith Tyers

“Even when you do make a mistake, owning your mistakes and learning from your mistakes is the biggest thing and knowing that the gratification for what you’ve done comes with a smile on somebody’s face when they open up the wine.” – Keith Tyers

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