John and Sacha Squair are going it alone in the Prince Edward County wine region. They aren’t in Wellington, the Closson Road, Hillier, South Bay or North Marysburgh. They aren’t even near heavily trafficked roads like Huff Estates, Sugar Bush or Black Prince. They are out in the middle of nowhere wine related on Fish Lake Road way beyond Demorestville, and there’s not another winery in sight for at least half an hour of driving.
Standing out from the crowd.
It’s not the only way John Squair stands apart from the other wineries. After seven years working with Sandbanks Estates Winery, John knows that there are three ways to approach running a winery.
3 Dog Winery
You can have deep pockets and be a purist and use only Prince Edward County vinifera grapes, you can grow affordable hardy grapes which the market is not all that interested in buying, or you can use what you have and blend it with grapes from Niagara and make enough to pay your bills
John opted for #3, actually, he had no choice. He and Sacha had planted grapes for their own wine consumption on the Fish Lake Road property back in 2003, but they both continued to hold down full-time jobs. With his 50th birthday on the horizon, John realized the time was right for them to start their own winery. There was one problem, you must have five acres of vines planted to start a winery, they only had three.
Getting by with a little help from his friends
Undaunted, he sent out an email to everyone on his contacts list who loved wine and invited them to a planting party. After seven years at Sandbanks, John knew a lot of people and they all turned up. There was even a waitlist, County Cider donated cider, Barley Days donated beer, Rosehall Run, Karlo Estates, Lighthall Vineyards and others donated wine. Food was donated by Seed to Sausage, Fiddlehead Farms, Pyramid Farms and Ferments as well as desserts from Moonlight on the Lake B & B. It was a huge success, despite the rain. At the end of it all, he had 7 acres of vines planted, more than enough to meet the legal requirements; however, only three acres of mature grapes were ready for harvest and the other four acres would take three more years before they could be picked. Continue reading