The Hutchins Farm came into the family on October 24, 1881. Through the generations the style of farming has gone through many changes, evolving from a full mixed Victorian farm to the current mix of cash crop and vineyard.
THE TEST PLOT
The latest addition is the vineyard / craft winery. We love wines that are interesting, so we decided to see what farm would produce. In 2006 we took half an acre out behind the barn and planted a test plot vineyard. 28 rows of different varieties and rootstock; 25 vines each: Baco Noir, Cabernet Foch, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chambourcin, Chardonnay, Gamay Noir, Gewürztraminer, Geisenheim 318, Marechal Foch, Merlot, Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir, Regent, Riesling, Syrah, and Zweigelt all became close friends. Some did well, some did poorly, some did too well (overly vigourous vines don’t make balance wine).
But we made wine from all of it. Some good, some bad, some weird. After 5 years we started to get a sense of what varietals and rootstocks were suited to the site.
WHAT WE GROW
In 2012 we made the leap, narrowed the list down and planted the first 2½ acres.
The next year we added another 3 acres. We narrowed it down to 4 key grapes: Chardonnay, Riesling, Cabernet, and Baco Noir. There are also small sections of Pinot Noir and Muscat to keep things interesting. For 5½ acres that’s a lot of variation. But it does allow us to stage the hand work as the different varieties develop through the season.
The farm is located on an interesting section of Essex county soils. The front blocks of Riesling and Baco Noir are located on a moderately vigourous section of Perth Clay-Loam. The back blocks (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Muscat and Cabernet Franc) are on a thin ridge of Shallow Phase Burford Loam. This is a fairly uncommon soil in the county, and is actually a very small glacial moraine of sand and rocks. We believe this unique soil leads to some special flavours in our grapes.
The vineyard is located very close to 42° North, 83° West which puts us in the extreme Southwest corner of Ontario. The southern location and proximity to Lake Erie lets us leave harvest later in the year, and lets the ‘bigger’ reds achieve more ripeness.
From the test plot we found that keeping the batches small and minimizing the winemaking intervention made wines that started conversations.
We’ve kept that approach with the wines we made to share with you. It does mean they can be quite different from year to year. We see this as a good thing - they end up being “A Little Something Different.”