Three weeks ago, Three Dog Winery put out a call on Facebook and Twitter for volunteers to help plant some Pinot Grigio and Pinot Noir vines. A week later, they had 20 people helping out at their vineyard in the northeast corner of Prince Edward County.
“So many people want to experience the outdoors, want to get their hands dirty and really experience the vineyard, and this gives them the opportunity to do that,” says John Squair, owner & winemaker.
John and his wife, Sacha, are expanding their vineyard while making preparations for their Grand Opening party on June 14. The vibe in the vineyard is relaxed and upbeat. People are enjoying being outside in the sunshine on one of the first really warm days of the season.
Arriving after lunch, I get a quick tutorial from a volunteer that has been working for a few hours already. She shows me how to dig a hole in the soil about six inches deep, then drop the vine into it and replace the soil to cover the roots.
With so many people helping, we have a whole row done in no time. It’s a good thing too, digging in this dry and rocky soil gets tiring quickly. But the satisfaction of seeing the vines neatly planted in their rows, and knowing they will grow into thriving plants that will produce grapes that will be turned into wine, keeps everyone going until it’s time for a break. Back to the tasting room for some barrel samples! A well-deserved reward for a job well done.
It’s been a big year for John and Sacha. They’d been growing grapes since 2000, managing a small vineyard while working day jobs. Last year they decided to jump in and take the next (big) step of building the winery.
Looking back, what was the defining moment when they knew there was no turning back? The now-legendary planting party last year that drew 150 volunteers. “All of a sudden, we had all these people here. They started planting and were done in 2 1/2 hours. That was the moment when I thought ‘wow, we really are doing this’” Sacha explains. “I was actually moved to tears.”
The rest of the year has been a blur. Buying equipment, building the production facility and tasting room, getting business licenses, permits and all the other behind-the-scenes that need to happen to get a business off the ground is a lot of work. Sacha explains, “This is our life now. It’s 7 days a week. But look at what we get to do, where we get to work.” Looking through the big garage doors that open up from the winery and out to the vineyard, it’s not hard to understand why they’re so excited about it.
The Grand Opening party is this Saturday, June 14 with live music from the band Doghouse Rose and eats by Picnic food truck, Slow Taco, Seed to Sausage along with the Pyramid Ferments Pop-Up Kombucha Bar.