Page My Legacy

Over the coming weeks and months I hope to provide you with a raw, uncensored look at the travails and joys associated with opening a small, craft winery.  Am I crazy?  Perhaps. In fact, some have suggested just that. I would argue, however, that it may be the only way to satisfy my burning desire to make small quantities of great wine from our storied family vineyard.

Our farm dates back five generations to the days of David Jackson Lowrey, who planted Niagara’s first commercial vineyard in the late 1800s.   Fast forward four generations to today and you’ll find my two personal heroes still farming this land.  The vines have changed and the “tractors” don’t have legs anymore, but I’m sure my parents Howie and Wilma still worry about their crops the same way David Jackson did back in his day.  Each generation has had to adapt and evolve with the times, and I see this small winery as my opportunity to do the same.

My parents bought the farm, so to speak, from my grandparents back in the 1970s when it was planted mainly with old Labrusca and Hybrid grapevines, which were common in Niagara at the time.  My father and grandfather, the two Howards, worked as a formidable tandem to manage the farm, as my first vivid childhood memories can attest.

A sweeping grapevine pull-out program, prompted by the pending Free Trade agreement of the mid-80s, forced my parents to make many difficult and thankfully “wine-friendly” decisions.  Amid the worries of a future without vineyards, it was Karl Kaiser of Inniskillin Wines who suggested that our site would be perfectly suited for the hard to grow, vinifera grape varieties that were beginning to show promise in the Niagara Region.  So it was with skepticism and crossed fingers that we decided to plant five trial rows of Pinot Noir in 1987.  The rest, as they say, is history.  I can only hope that our new winery ensures that the farm is sustainable for generations to come.

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