Georgian Hills Vineyards is not the first winery in the Georgian Bay area – Coffin Ridge Boutique Winery claims that distinction. But Georgian Hills’ three owners (in alphabetical order): John Ardiel, Robert Ketchin, Murray Puddicombe, have big plans – and not just for their own winery, which already produces about 2500 cases. They’re intent on developing the wine industry in the Georgian Bay region. And, given their backgrounds and collective experiences in the industry, they are well positioned to do just that.
John Ardiel, owner of Ardiel Acres, is a long-time apple farmer in the region. Murray Puddicombe, who is the father of winemaker Lindsay Puddicombe, is of the Puddicombe family in Winona (the Niagara Region) (Puddicombe Estate Farms & Winery) . Robert Ketchin is a marketing specialist in the wine industry.
Winter hearty wines
After many seasons of testing which grapes would be best suited to the area (this was done on Ardiel’s farm), they decided what they’d plant. It will come as no surprise that, given how far north the area is (almost on the 45th parallel), they settled on hearty varieties like Riesling, Chardonnay, Seyval Blanc, Vidal, Pinot Gris, Gewürztraminer, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Baco Noir and Marechal Foch.
They have a 50 acre property in the Beaver Valley, with about 17 acres under vine. At the wine boutique on Grey Road 2, where they have about 12 acres under vine.
Perhaps because of their northern location and their proximity to well-known ski areas, Georgian Hills Vineyards offers free snowshoeing on its property. They’ve created a map that you can ask for at the tasting bar — they’ve now got three routs — a 1/2 km, 1 km, and 2 km. Remember — it’s BYOS — bring your own snowshoes! Talk about a great combo — getting a bit of fresh winter air and then getting inside for some great sipping!!
Tours and Tastings
They don’t offer tours. They have wine tastings at the boutique. They charge a small fee for tastings, but the fee is waived with purchase. They also sell wine by the glass and picnickers are welcome.
They offer various specialty tastings. Space is limited for these experiences, so you should book ahead.
In mid-December 2013 Georgian Hills put out a call for volunteers to pick frozen Vidal grapes for icewine and 21 hearty souls braved the -18 Celcius (0 Farenheit) temperatures. Click here to see a short video of John Ardiel talking a bit about the day, as well as what one of the morning’s enthusiastic volunteers had to say. It was great fun — and went fast — we picked 7 rows in about 90 minutes.