We had the pleasure of meeting Maggie Belcastro (Winemaker at The Grange of Prince Edward Vineyards & Estate Winery) earlier this year, though we've been fans of The Grange and their unique wines since our first visit back in 2011! The Grange is one of the largest wineries located in the Prince Edward County appellation of Ontario, with 60 acres of vineyards producing premium wines made from 100% estate grown fruit. Their winemaking approach involves minimal intervention, which in turn produces very terroir-driven and distinctly "County" wines. And the coolest part? Maggie shares winemaking duties with her mom Caroline Granger. Now that's girl power! ✌️
More recently, we caught up with Maggie at the winery over one of their awesome picnic lunches overlooking the vineyards behind the historic farmhouse – which is now their tasting room! We talked all things Grange – from the history of the property, to winemaking with mom, and how Sparkling fits in to their portfolio. And of course, between bites of local cheese and charcuterie we sipped on Maggie's Sparkling Brut, Brut Rosé and Riesling (along with a few forthcoming releases still resting sur-lie 😍) – but more on those in an upcoming post! 😉 In the meantime... grab a glass of bubbly, sit back, and check out our full interview with Maggie below!
Can you tell us a little bit about the history of The Grange?
This estate has quite a long agricultural history from Canadian standards. It was a loyalist grant in 1805 when western agricultural practices began here. For the next almost 200 years it was a working farm with complimentary agribusinesses, such as a saw mill, a dairy parlour and even a chicken canning factory during the great depression. My family has been here since the 1970s when my grandparents bought the farm and my mom started the vineyard in 2000. So we are coming up on 20 years of our own history in the making! It's amazing how time flies.
What’s something about The Grange that most people don’t know?
That we are 100% estate-grown production. Every day we meet people at the tasting bar that are absolutely amazed. They believe, like we do, that it makes for a more unique wine and experience.
We know you and your mom share the winemaking duties. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and what it's like working together? I'm sure there are some great conversions!
It is certainly a unique experience working in a mother-daughter team! But at the end of the day we both want the vineyard to thrive and I think that bottom line gets us through any differences in opinion. It's really only little things that we argue about, on the big stuff we are totally aligned. Estate grown wines, beautiful unique styles rather than commercial ones, and environmental sustainability.
We’re interested to know more about how sparkling wine fits into your winemaking portfolio. Can you tell us a little bit about producing sparkling wine at The Grange and the wines you produce?
Since we started producing sparkling wine it's been a perfect compliment to our wines. This climate is made to produce sparkling! First of all, our sparkling wines are some of the most beautiful and sought out that we produce. They also allow us to tweak our harvesting practices in different years to compliment the weather and ultimately produce better wines overall!
What would you consider to be your greatest achievement as a winemaker?
I think that learning how to work with these unique vineyards and really producing wines that are true to the unique elements of Prince Edward County is a great achievement; one that we are still working on daily.
Besides The Grange sparkling, if you were to order a glass of sparkling wine at a restaurant, what would it be?
When I am out I like to drink a lot of different things. In The County I order other County wines. Of course there is A LOT of great bubbly coming out of The County right now and a good variety in restaurants. When I am in the city I split 50/50 between other Ontario producers and international producers. Typically I save the grower Champagne for those occasions when friends are gathering at home, just because they are so darn expensive! It's nice that Ontario does reasonably priced bubbly because it is extremely food friendly, so it's nice to have a glass with a meal. I like mixing in cider just for fun as well. My fave bubbly producer has to be Hinterland, great range (including a cider) and all are delicious in their own way!