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ROOTED: Family-owned winery in Holland Marsh a hot spot for tourists, locals (14 photos)

Holland Marsh Winery is a hidden gem located in the heart of the Holland Marsh

Deep in the Holland Marsh, tucked away behind a forest of trees is Holland Marsh Wineries offering tours and tastings, and putting on special events.

Holland Marsh Wineries was founded by King Township resident Roland Nersisyan which he runs alongside his two sons, Norie and Narek. 

It was Roland's idea to open the winery, who learned to make wine from his grandfather back home in Armenia. 

After completing his degree in business, eldest son Norie went on to obtain his certificates in wine-making and cider craft. He joined his father in business as the head winemaker. 

After obtaining his degrees in business and IT, his youngest son Narek worked internationally for many wine and spirit companies, before making the decision to come back home and work the family business, handling all the sales and marketing. 

It wasn't until 2007 that the first block of grapes was planted in the vineyard, with the winery's doors officially opening in 2010. In 2011, their clubhouse was built as a venue for weddings and special events.

The clubhouse is where weddings and special events are hosted. The rustic barn-chic room with floor-to-ceiling windows with walk-out patio is made of pine sourced from Innisfil and holds up to 200 guests. 

In 2012, they planted their second block of grapes, expanding the vineyard to 11 acres. 

Over the years, the winery has won numerous awards, including one from the All Canadian Wine Competition where they received Gold for their 2016 Reserve Merlot. 

"I think every winery has something unique to offer," said Narek.

It's the sandy, clay, loamy Holland Marsh soil he says that gives the wine a taste that stands out from other Ontario wines. 

"It's very very unique for growing grapes and it works," said Narek. 

Narek says the winery is "old school" with its approach to winemaking. 

"But everything we do is state of the art," he said, noting all of the equipment used to make the wine comes from Europe. 

The stainless steel tanks are from Italy and Germany, and the press, which separates the juice from the seeds, is from Slovenia. The oak barrels where the wine is stored come from Bulgaria, Hungary and Armenia. 

Narek says it's the oak barrels that help create the creamy, spicy, and rich flavour of the wine. 

The winery sells a wide selection of white and red wines, including their top-tier reserved class wines. 

Reserved wines are only released in years when Ontario has a good growing season, which would mean higher than normal temperatures, with no spring frost and a dry fall. The following years are considered 'Reserve Years':  2020, 2016, 2014, 2012, 2010 and 2007.  

The winery's award-winning wines are available to sample and purchase inside their shop at the front of the winery. Their wines are made in small batches for the public to purchase directly from the store, or enjoyed at local restaurants.

"We don't produce too much, we're big on quality vs. quantity," said Narek. "It's a labour of love."

The winery often brings in specialty items from other local makers and growers to sell in their shop, like chocolates, jams and meats.

"We are pretty much a hub for local," said Narek.

The winery tours around 4,000 people per year, and hosts around 80-100 events. 

"We see people from all parts of the province," said Narek, noting there are many who make a stop in while on their way up to cottage country. 

Like many businesses in the food, drink and entertainment industry, the pandemic had an effect on the winery's events side of the business. However, they did see a spike in wine sales, offering free shipping for online orders in Ontario. 

The winery recently came up with a Wine Club, where every quarter members are shipped a basket of goodies, including specialty wine, charcuterie pairings, sampling, a tour, and in-store discounts. When the membership first rolled out, there were only about seven members, now Narek says there are over 100. 

Narek says there are some exciting plans coming up for the winery, including the addition of a hot stove oven for freshly baked pizzas, and they plan to expand the vineyards by another five acres. 

The logo for the Holland Marsh winery is a sun, which represents the history of the Nersisyan family. They believe the sun stands for warmth and good energy which is what is required for all things to grow. It also represents the circle of life. The family believes that what you put into this earth is what you will get back.

The winery is open six days a week, Tuesday – Sunday: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. 

Pre-booking is required for a tour that can be made online, but drop-ins are welcome for shopping. 

To learn more, visit their website here