In 2001, Caroline Granger started a vineyard on southern Ontario farmland that had been in her family for years. Nine years later, her daughter, Maggie Granger, graduated from university and came home to join her. The result is the Grange, a standout in Prince Edward County’s winery boom, where 60 acres of vines are tended using sustainable farming practices. We talked to the mother-daughter duo about their winery and their relationship (by the way, they offer contactless delivery throughout Ontario).
What inspired you to start a winery?
Caroline: I may have had a bit of a romantic notion, but what I thought about when I thought about planting vines was a new way of farming in Prince Edward County. A lot of farmland [here] that’s amazing for grapes is very marginal for any other crops. Finding something that wouldn’t just grow here, but that would thrive and produce something beautiful, was really exciting for me. So, yes, I wanted to be there when my kids got off the bus, but I also wanted to do something interesting and something for my community.
How did you decide to run the winery together, as a family business?
Caroline: What I wanted for my kids was this opportunity to be more connected to the land. I wanted to do something cool on the farm, and then the winery took on a life of its own. By the time Maggie came back…that’s when we really started to work on the new branding and our vision of how we would move forward.
Maggie: Vineyards are such a generational project. The long-term growth in something like this really needs that investment and a vision that spans more than a few years of turnaround. The fruition of our vision is decades away.
Tell us about the wines you make at the Grange.
Maggie: Prince Edward County is an incredibly wonderful place to grow grapes. [They] are defined by struggle, which sounds bad, but it’s actually a really good thing when you’re trying to produce dynamic and complex wine. The grapes take their time and slowly pull nutrients out of the soil, and so you get a really complex flavour profile. For me, these wines are all about the specific place. We are 100 percent estate-grown, which is less common in Ontario and the county, but much more common in parts of the Old World, particularly in regions like Burgundy.
Can you speak a bit on your sustainable wine-growing practices?
Maggie: Everything we do in our vineyards, we do with the intention of being good environmental stewards and producing a wonderful, healthy product. Our vineyard practices are called the (Bio)Rational Approach, which is always thinking about…how to take care of the land.
Caroline: We focus on the health of the vineyard, which allows us to have nice cultures on the skin that encourage certain [types of] natural fermentation to occur. We’re trying to produce no garbage. Right now the entire facility, even during the height of the season, would only produce one household garbage bag every two weeks.
Maggie: As well, we don’t use plastic capsules on our bottles. We’ve opted to remove packaging from our bottles and leave the neck of the bottle naked.
What is your working relationship like?
Caroline: There is no more trusted relationship than the one I have with my daughter. Those hard conversations are easier with Maggie. On the other hand, there is no more stringent critic than someone who has known you their whole life. I think that brings out the best in me. Most of the time we manage to keep the work stuff at work and the mother-
daughter stuff at home.
Maggie: No one is more committed to a family business than family. We’re always going to be there—whether the work is fun or not fun, whether it’s a gruelling 18-hour day—because we love it and we’re committed to it.
Interview has been condensed and edited.
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