Everyone says they need a vacation – a getaway from their busy lives to take some time to sit, relax and enjoy. You can do just that at the beautiful and scenic Georgian Hills Vineyards nestled in the heart of the Blue Mountains and Beaver Valley just outside of Ravenna. Off the beaten path, surrounded by the gorgeous countryside, come, spend an afternoon soaking up the sun on their lovely patio while taking in the stunning views of the vineyard and fields that surround it all while you sip on some of their delicious and award winning wines and ciders. Sound like the perfect summer afternoon? Partner of Georgian Hills Vineyards Robert Ketchin couldn’t agree more, and neither can I.
Georgian Hills is very well known for their cool-climate wines. Georgian Hills is farther north than many Ontario wineries for example those in Niagara, therefore they do have a bit of a different climate: cooler nights and a shorter growing season. However, Georgian Hills is also within what Robert called a ‘micro climate’. Because of the Georgian Bay and the steep hillsides surrounding the vineyard from the Niagara Escarpment in the Beaver Valley they are somewhat protected making it a great place to grow fruits even with the cooler temperatures. These conditions are prime for heartier varieties of grapes such as Seyval Blanc, Vidal Blanc, Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir and Maréchal Foch which make wonderful cool-climate wines. “Our wines are elegant,’ Robert tells me, “they’re beautifully vibrant, they’ve got a little bit of acidity to lift the wines. Slightly less alcohol because we don’t have so much heat but that gives us a delicate balance of fine wine”.
Moreover, Georgian Hills is also gaining a following with their ciders. They use heritage apples with varieties including Russet, Macintosh, Spy and Ida Red, all of which make delicious apple pies and ciders! Currently Georgian Hills has their Ardiel Cider, Georgian Hills Dry Cider and a Georgian Hills Perry which is a pear cider. “Its pretty neat,” Robert says, “we have a nice balance of what we might call cool climate Blue Mountains, Beaver Valley, beverages”.
Robert trained in the traditional wine and spirits education trust, and continued in the wine business in senior sales and marketing positions when he immigrated to Canada. Today he has quite an impressive resume in the food and beverage industry with clients including several micro-breweries, Heineken beer, as well as helping the New Zealand wine industry get started in Canada. He moved his business to this area in the late 1990s to try and find some interested farmers to work with to grow grapes for his winery. One of his partners today, John Ardiel, was immediately very interested, so interested in fact that he was willing to put in the first 5 acres. Robert tells me that John, being a farmer and apple grower already, had the equipment and knowledge necessary making it “the perfect partnership”. Robert then purchased the land that Georgian Hills Vineyards sits on in 2004, they planted in 2007 and had their first big harvest in 2010.
Since that harvest in 2010, Georgian Hills has really expanded. They started with only one employee who took on all duties and were only open one day a week. Today, they have 2 full time staff and almost 20 part time staff, they are now open 7 days a week 11am-5pm, their retail store has opened, and they have started running tours all throughout the summer. They also now have their patio where you can sit and enjoy their wines. Moreover, you can pair their wines with a charcuterie plate or cheese platter and they will teach you about how to properly pair the beverages with different foods to get the best experience possible. They are also very busy throughout the winter offering snowshoeing through their vineyard and even harvesting frozen grapes for their ice wine, so remember them in the winter as well!
The Beaver Valley and Blue Mountains are very well known for all of the fantastic 4 season recreation they provide , from golf, cycling and more in the summer to skiing in the winter. However, what truly makes the Blue Mountains and Beaver Valley so special is the arts and culture that go hand in hand with the recreation, making it a destination for absolutely everyone. The Beaver Valley and Blue Mountains have become a destination to also enjoy fine foods, culinary experiences and fine wines. This lifestyle fit perfectly for Georgian Hills Vineyard . “The Blue Mountains was the best kept secret in my mind”, Robert says, “it just made sense to be a part of progress and this generation of tourism . . . we’ve given people something to enjoy and to come to as a destination”.
So take a drive, enjoy all the area has to offer and make sure that Georgian Hills is one of your destinations along the way. “Come and discover the country again, take some time out and just chill and enjoy the beauty of our vineyards, the beauty of the fields around us, the beauty of the escarpment, and then taste” says Robert, “life is short and we really have to start finding time to take time out”. Come and experience Georgian Hills Vineyards and the entire Blue Mountains and Beaver Valley areas as Robert said “you deserve it”.
496350 Grey Road 2
PO Box 491
519 599 2255 for tasting and event bookings