Do you want some wine with that snowshoe? If that appeals to you, a local micro-winery in Southern Ontario is doing its thing to create a unique “apres-snowshoe” experience.
The Coffin Ridge Winery is located about two-and-a-half hours north of Toronto in the heart of Ontario’s apple-growing region along the south shore of Georgian Bay. The area features a unique micro-climate thanks to the big waters of the bay moderating and gentling temperature and weather extremes.
Unlike regions further inland, the region features summers with temperatures a few degrees lower than might be expected. During winter, temperatures are milder, although lake-effect snow across Lake Huron and Georgian Bay can be mountainous.
The vineyard was founded in 1999 after owners Neil and Gwen Lamont noticed that wild grapes growing abundantly in the area around their new home. Mike Todd, the manager of the operation, said he and his staff realized they had a chance to give the winery some more exposure by offering something different to the winery’s customers.
That light bulb of inspiration led to the creation of weekend snowshoe and walking tours around the vineyard, followed by an “apres-snowshoe” taste testing and gourmet lunch that leaves participants more than satisfied. “We started offering snowshoe tours as a different way to experience our winery/vineyard”, said Todd. “The winter tends to be slower, so there is much more opportunity for one-on-one communication. We are always looking for ways to offer our customers a great experience. People love it,” he added. “They get outside, learn something about our vineyards and how we farm, taste some awesome local wine, eat great cheese and soup. What’s not to love? We will snowshoe into our front block of vineyards and show people how our vines are pruned, how they grow throughout the season, how we pick the grapes. Without any leaves you get a different view of the vines. We also go over the attributes of our vineyard that enables us to grow this far north.”
Nine people had turned on for the recent tour. Snow conditions weren’t great following a prolonged spell of weather above the freezing mark, and many opted to simply walk instead.
Anna Jean Bradley said “I’ve wanted to come here for ages. I love wine, and it sounded like a perfect thing to do on a February weekend. I’m a fan of snowshoeing, but we need more snow. I think it’s fantastic, and it’s such a treat we have a local winery that’s so accessible.”
The grapes grown by Coffin Ridge are carefully selected cold-resistant varieties that have weathered even the Polar Vortex of the last couple of winters without a blink. “The walking tour lasts about 40 minutes around our entire 25-acre vineyard,” Todd said. “Then the customer can come inside and warm up by the fire, do a wine tasting select their favorite and have a glass. Lastly just relax enjoy the view and the soup and cheese plate.”
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