Blyth native to open Cornerfield, Huron's third winery - April 25, 2019
BY SHAWN LOUGHLIN
In a matter of weeks, Adam and Carrie Durand will be launching Cornerfield Wine Company just south of Bayfield, becoming Huron County’s third established winery.
Carrie is a Blyth native, the daughter of Rod and Debbie Ansley, who has worked as a dental hygienist for years. Her husband Adam is a developer who owns his own business and it was a slow summer five years ago that steered them towards something new and the world of wine.
The couple took notice of the Huron County-commissioned wine study penned by viticulture consultant Richard Fitoussi and for them it came along at the perfect time. They were looking for something new and it seemed as though Huron County was also on the cusp of its next horizon.
Not only did the Durands take interest, but they also connected with their own consultant from the Niagara region about the potential for grape-growing on their 130-acre Bluewater Highway property just south of Bayfield.
From there, it didn’t take long for the Durands to get set up. They planted 200 test vines to see the results before they invested too heavily. They liked what they saw (and tasted) and continued to add incrementally every year. Now they have just over five and a half acres of vines planted with their eye on expansion if all goes well this summer.
Adam says that he and Carrie began the process on their own – once they had received consultation – but soon realized that the project was bigger than them and they needed help.
Working with Steve Byfield, a winemaker out of the Niagara region who has worked with Coffin Ridge Winery near Owen Sound, the Durands saw their project take on a new life in the hands of an expert.
Adam and Carrie would handle the growing and the harvest and then essentially hand the crops over to Byfield who would do the rest.
With all of this year’s grapes now harvested and through the fermentation process, Cornerfield will be bottling its first official run of wine in the coming weeks and opening to the public in early May.
Since the company is only planning on 650 cases of wine, the bottling process should only take between two and three days, Adam said.
For their first offering, they will have six varieties of wine for the public to try: three whites (a riesling, a chardonnay and The Farmer and Frenchman, a Huron County white), two reds (a cabernet merlot blend and a marechal foch) and one blush (called a pale red).
Since they are bottling such a small amount of wine for their first time, they are hoping to get to Thanksgiving, but also know that if they are successful, that may not necessarily happen.
The wine varieties will be the product of grapes that are perfect for the North American climates, resilient to temperatures as low as
-30°C or -40°C. If Cornerfield were to attempt to grow European grape varieties, for example, the weather this past winter would have definitely killed off the crop.
As far as getting their product out to thirsty Huron County residents and tourists, the Durands are planning to create a small destination winery at their location.
They have obtained a by-the-glass permit to sell wine at a small bar in their facility, or allow visitors to tour the vineyard or the rest of the grounds. There aren’t currently any plans to supply their wine to local restaurants or sell at farmers’ markets, but those decisions will be dictated by the success of this season.
The Durands say their hopes are high. They have sampled what they’ll soon be bottling and they feel they have something special to add to the burgeoning wine, beer and cider culture in Huron County.
They also feel that they are lucky with a great location to catch tourists driving up Highway 21 between Grand Bend, Bayfield, Goderich and beyond.
And while the Durands have chosen to name their wine Cornerfield, they have an acclaimed Scotch whisky to thank.
While attending a celebration of Robbie Burns Night at the Black Dog Pub in Bayfield, they tried a Scotch from the Glasgow area called Auchentoshan, which, when translated from Gaelic, means “corner of the field”. The couple chose the name from over 30 they had been considering.
As for the future, Carrie says she plans on continuing her work as a dental hygienist part-time, though that may change depending on the success of the winery. Adam will continue with his development work, as he is in the middle of a subdivision development in Bayfield.
For more information on Cornerfield Wine Company, visit its website at cornerfieldwineco.com.