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VIDEO: Sainte-Famille Winery puts up the For Sale sign


Tracy Lake has been a dutiful daughter long enough.

She took over the family wine-making business three years ago so her mother, who’d nurtured Sainte-Famille Winery for decades, could retire.

But though Lake grew up in the Falmouth vineyard her mother Suzanne Corkum first planted 40 years ago, owning a winery was never her dream.

So, Sainte-Famille is up for sale to anyone willing to part with $1.599-million.

“It was not really a hard decision to be honest, not for me,” Lake said. “This business, this whole industry was something my mother and stepfather got into and I didn’t play a huge role in it.  It wasn’t until mom decided to retire that I came on board and took over the day to day stuff, along with my daughter. It just became apparent to me and to her that in order to advance the business the way we would like to see it advance, it’s going to take somebody with more vision and more money, resources to invest.”

Tracy Lake, operations manager for Sainte-Famille Wines, poses for a photo in the vineyard outside Falmouth on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. - Ryan Taplin
Tracy Lake, operations manager for Sainte-Famille Wines, poses for a photo in the vineyard outside Falmouth on Tuesday, September 29, 2020. - Ryan Taplin

Grape harvesting started this week and Lake said the crop looks great, after two poor years. A late spring frost in 2018 decimated the province’s vineyards, and Saint-Famille lost 90 per cent of its grapes.

“Last year, the vines were still recovering from 2018, and the spring of 2019 was really wet and cold. So, what that did was delay the buds in coming out until later than they normally would. That pushed everything later. And then, just to kick us when we’re down, we ended up with an early frost in September, and the grapes were not fully ripened at that time. A lot of vineyards had the same issue, and tonnage across the province was probably down by half,” Lake said. “This year the vines rebounded really well and there’s a lot of fruit out there. We had a nice hot dry summer.”

The winery opened in 1990 and grapes had been grown on the property for other wineries for a decade before that. Suzanne Corkum, the face of the business for decades, is now 78.

“We’d like to give her some money back. She’s invested her entire life into this company and she should be able to live comfortably for her remaining days,” Lake said of her mom. “It’s been 40 years of a labour of love, for her and my stepfather who passed away in 2018. That also contributed to this decision.”

Sainte-Famille was also put up for sale in 2009, but Lake said trying to sell a winery during a recession proved fruitless, so the family carried on.

Now, Bent Ridge Winery is just a few kilometres away, and with a grape portfolio that has limited diversity, might seem like a possible candidate to make a purchase.  But co-owner Glenn Dodge said Tuesday he won’t be making a bid.

“We’ve got our hands full,” he said.

Wine grapes at the Sainte-Famille vineyard outside Falmouth. - Ryan Taplin
Wine grapes at the Sainte-Famille vineyard outside Falmouth. - Ryan Taplin

And Pete Luckett of Luckett Vineyards, who a few years ago expanded his grape-growing capacity by buying a parcel of farm land in Avonport, isn’t ready to buy Sainte-Famille.

“I’ve not considered it, so I can’t say I’ve ruled it out,” he said. “I’ve got enough on my plate right now, though.”

Sainte-Famille was expanded a few years ago with the addition of a new warehouse. The property is about 35 acres, including woods, land around the house and 18 acres of vines.

“We have l’Acadie, Marechel Foch, some Riesling, Seyval Blanc, Muscat, Baco Noir, and we have Siegfried and Geisenheim,” Lake said. “There’s a lot of potential here for the right person who has the right vision to take it to that next level, in terms of a winery experience. The life is not easy, there are a lot of worries, starting with your vineyard. You’re constantly worrying about what’s going on outside because it impacts you inside. You have to have some fortitude and some backbone.”

Tracy Lake, operations manager for Sainte-Famille Wines, poses for a photo in the vineyard outside Falmouth. - Ryan Taplin
Tracy Lake, operations manager for Sainte-Famille Wines, poses for a photo in the vineyard outside Falmouth. - Ryan Taplin

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