TOtimes Tastings: Urban Tractor Farm Winery
A most unique wine tasting experience less than an hour from Toronto
When you think about wine tasting tours I bet you don’t think about stepping up to an old converted horse trailer to receive your selection of tasting flights. For the most part, when you visit a winery, you have somewhat of an idea about what it will be like. Even though each winery has something unique and special to share while offering a tasting experience, part of that experience typically includes entering a building of some description, whether it be a barn-like structure or a fancy modern winery with all of the latest and greatest wine-making capabilities. Some also will have features like small petting zoos, bakeries or elaborate retail outlets, and some also have beautiful garden sitting areas. But at Urban Tractor Farm Winery this story gets even more interesting.
This winery, located in Lincoln, Ontario near Grimsby and Beamsville, is as unique as they come – well at least I have not experienced anything similar or as unique during my quest to introduce you to the heart of Ontario wine country.
A diamond in the rough located in Lincoln, Ontario
A diamond in the rough. No glitz and glam. At Urban Tractor Farm Winery, I have discovered a family run, intimate wine boutique where the wines are as unique as the place.
I will definitely get to the winery and the wine very soon, and trust me, the wine is so good, but there is so much to tell you about this farm experience. First I have to tell you about rolling up to the farm and then I will tell you about the owners because I was so impressed by this family and their story. Sometimes we have to take a step back and take in more than the obvious or more than what’s in front of us.
My husband and I drove to the farm in Lincoln, Ontario (not far from Grimsby) without knowing what to expect, only that this is the launch of a brand new ‘bare bones’ unique set up, with no brick and mortar building or “normal” winery experience. At first glance, it is nondescript. We are a bit unsure of how to react when the owners Paula and Gord greet us as we step out of our vehicle. As we walk over to the trailer, I immediately see the vision and potential. I get excited for them right off the bat! Even though the only thing in front of me is an old horse trailer converted into a wine tasting bar. But wait, I want you to get the whole visual because it is quite remarkable.
This trailer is cleaned out, gutted and transformed into a beautiful, unique, conversation piece of a walk up bar. It really is a sight to see, especially at sundown. Painted a sea-foam green with twinkling pixie lights adorn the back wall that resembles an old barn wall. A glowing pink neon “BAR” sign with a martini cocktail glass adds even more pizzazz.
Some small chairs and barrel tables are set up in front of the trailer for guests to sit and experience the delicious and aromatic wines. We sit and listen to the amazing story of Gord and Paula and their new-found passion. On the farm there are Shetland ponies that wander around the property, and even surprise us with a visit right up to the trailer. Chickens, Quale, Turkey’s, the family dog (a Collie), are also all part of the farm family.
Gord Maretzki, who is the winemaker, stands behind the counter and pours us our three tasters.
What wines will you find at Urban Tractor Winery?
Urban Tractor currently has three wines on offer – a white, a red, and a rosé.
Each as unique as the farm, Gord explains the process and the grapes for each wine. I discover that I do like Rosé, well, I liked HIS rose. It was very different from any rose I have ever tasted. The Rooster Rose as it’s called, is a Cab Franc with a darker color – and the flavor – can I say mmmmm, is that professional enough? It was a bit more tannic than your typical rose, and it turns out, I really like that.
As a matter of fact, we were greatly privileged by having the very first pour of their rose wine!
When I complimented him on his amazing skill in wine making, he humbly said to me, “ you don’t really make wine, you steward the process.” He understands that nature and the land do all of the “making”.
After the wine-tasting Gord and Paula take us for a tour around the property and we are blown away by their story of labour and love, and what it takes to keep this vineyard going.
This is not your typical winery in the least. They do everything by hand. They sort the vines by hand, and they de-stem by hand and with one small stemming machine. They also cover the red grapes by themselves – because apparently the birds can only see red grapes and love to feast on them and then they uncover the grapes by hand. No hired hands, no fancy machinery.
Being an engineer by trade, Gord can fix anything and so he set to work building a modest winery in their barn. It’s brilliant. It’s grass routes.
It turns out that the winery/farm is on the connecting route to multiple wineries so you can stop in during your wine tour or come on your own. Although it’s best to set an appointment if you are coming on your own.
The red wine is a Marechal Foch. Gord explains it as having an interesting combination of aromas such as tobacco, cherry and hints of coffee. The dry tannins have notes of smokey vanilla, spice and dark chocolate. Gord says it has an undertone of leather, but my palette is not refined enough to detect it.
I typically like a deep bold dry red wine like a Syrah, however I truly appreciate this red wine.
The white wine is an unconventional Sayval Blanc/Riesling that is fermented to reach its dryness. Citrus and floral aromas that had an accentuated finish at the end, which I enjoyed.
The Rosé wine, Rooster Rosé, is a truly unique experience. The fact that they extend the time on the skins and in the barrels, give it a bold flavour rarely found in a rose wine. It is my favourite rosé by far!
All of their wines are vegan friendly. I was a bit surprised by that comment because in my ignorance, I didn’t know there was such a thing as vegan wine. It turns out that their fining agent is clay whereas some use casein, which is a milk product and others use albumen, which is an egg product. Who knew!
Meet The owners:
Gord and Paula Maretzki and their family of eight kids, yes you read that right, 8 children-by all accounts are doing well for themselves. Gord, coming from the engineering world – Automation Electrical Engineer, as well as many other titles and hats during his career, decided that he wanted out of the demanding corporate world. Though he knows he is fortunate to have the life they had, he wanted to spend more time with his family. His kids deserved to have more of their father before they were all grown up and out on their own.
So he and Paula talked it out and took the giant leap of faith – they were retiring early and going to buy a farm.
Knowing a bit about farming life, I immediately thought to myself, “What? If you think what you did before took all of your time, farming is going to take even more!”
But the best part is, the whole family participated in restoring the neglected property they purchased. They started off with hay farming. Gord himself will tell you that he had no real idea on how to farm hay, but with persistence, research, and great neighbouring farmers, they had the place up and running in no time.
They restored the land with their own blood, sweat and tears. Literally.
Then came the idea to plant a vineyard.
Gord explains that the soil became an excellent site to plant what he called “Patriotic Grapes”, or cool climate grape varietals that do well in that climate. After he explains the climate of the farm, he dubs it, Canadians making Canadian wine.
A varietal is a wine that is labelled as being made from one grape variety.
Gord and Paula planted their first blocks of vines in 2018 a block of Seyval Blanc and a block of Baco Noir. In 2020 a small tonnage of Seyval Blanc was harvested. It was then that they started their winery with grapes from the first estate grown vintage. You can go on their website to read up on more of this, but I also want to add that the reviews their winery received from WineAlign were “excellent old wine standards”.
For a new winery that only released their first bottle in 2021, you can’t get a better review than that.
Added bonuses to Urban Tractor Farm Winery
You can rent out the wine bar. You can also hold weddings there or other celebrations you may have. Bring your kids to pet the ponies while you have a taste of some of the most unique wines in the region.
As we were leaving the farm winery, the sun is starting to set, providing a romantic glow over the horizon, when a car stops on the road in front of us for what seems like an extended period of time, then backs up and pulls into the farm. A couple gets out and the woman says, “I just had to stop and stare for a moment because I feel like we’re in a desert in California.”
I smile and think, yes, that’s exactly it! That sums up the words that I have been trying to find to explain this place as the sun goes down.
Urban Tractor Farm Winery is a must see, must experience, must taste, kind of place.
by Kimberly Wardell,
To read the full review please visit ThisIsYourCity.ca
Other articles from totimes.ca – mtltimes.ca – otttimes.ca
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