Their enthusiasm is contagious. It doesn’t take long to realize that Teresa Bressan and Scott Lambert have big dreams. The new owners of Vankleek Hill Vineyard say their three-year search for a farm to start a market garden got sidetracked — just a little — when the St-Lazare couple followed a Popsilos sign to Vankleek Hill Vineyard.
“We just loved the location,” says the couple, acknowledging the potential, but at the same time, the hard work which lies ahead. Bressan, with her real estate background and Lambert, who owns a lighting company in Quebec, are anxious to put their entrepreneurial energies into redeveloping the vineyard in every way: adding new vines, developing new wines, re-branding and creating a destination for visitors and wine-lovers.
While the name of the vineyard will stay the same, they have incorporated as “Windfall Acres”, calling the discovery of the vineyard their “windfall” — and a blessing. The vineyard, formerly owned by Marty and Laura Kral, had been for sale for about a year when Bressan and Lambert discovered it.
On the afternoon that The Review visited, the couple walked along the rows of vines in the late afternoon sun, explaining that there was a clean-up and pruning underway. They love the extensive grounds around the house, which, at the time of this interview, was empty. But they were making plans to move their blended family to the spacious house at the vineyard soon.
Rebranding will involve a raven similar to the one on the Popsilo located on the property, but the couple has hired a consultant and a viticulturalist to give the vineyard a fresh start under their management.
With about 5.5 acres of vines at the moment, Lambert says the plan is to plant three to five acres more. The existing vines are cold-climate varieties, mainly Frontenac noir, Frontenac gris and a Russian red-grape Severny, but Lambert wants to add Marquette, Swanson White and Petite Perle.
New wines will be developed for their fresh brand, says Lambert, who wants to get everything re-organized with the help of experts.
“All of our wines will be handcrafted and aged in oak barrels and bottled here,” he says, pointing to some of the equipment in the existing vineyard building and shop.
While Lambert is clearly focused on getting tasty new wines and processes lined up, he is equally enthusiastic, along with his wife, Teresa, about adding elements to the 55-acre property such as walking trails (there are 27,000 mature trees and a pond on the property), creating an event venue, a shop offering local products and participating in local community events. And those are just a few of the initiatives they have in mind for the vineyard. Bressan is keen to host events at the location and to collaborate with local businesses as much as possible.
“At the end of the day, we want to work together and enjoy everything that we do — together,” said Bressan.
Vankleek Hill Vineyard will be re-opening soon. It is located at 3725 Dandy Road (formerly County Road 12), Vankleek Hill, but is officially just inside the border of the Township of East Hawkesbury.
By the way, Teresa and Scott are looking for part-time help to work outdoors, working in the vineyard and on the property. They say the hours are flexible and feel the job is ideal for retired or semi-retired folks who want to enjoy fresh air and spend time outdoors! Call 514-918-1049 to find out more about working at Vankleek Hill Vineyard.