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You might say that it was ‘love’ that brought current owner Dane Nielsen and his wife Jessica to the Grist Mill Winery and ignited a true passion for creating the best possible wines from high quality juices.
For the young couple, the seed of that passion began in 2007 with their very own wedding at the Beaver Valley Ski Club near Kimberley, serving wines selected and created at the Grist Mill. Although Dane and Jessica already had been making their own wines at the mill for four years, owners Terry and Judy Smith were very helpful, helping the Nielsens navigate their wine selection, producing perfect wines for their special occasion.
Less than a year later, Nielsen found himself working for the Smiths who cultivated Dane’s growing interest in wine and turned it into an all-out fever. During that experience, Dane learned and perfected his craft, discovering that he had a real knack for it. Five years later, when Terry and Judy were ready to retire, an opportunity presented itself and the rest is history. “I did what every crazy person would do… I bought the store,” said Nielsen, tongue in cheek. Truth be told, it really is a family-owned-and-run operation as Dane is quick to point out that he enlists plenty of support from his father, wife and in-laws.
Earlier this year, the Grist Mill Winery moved operations from the mill to its new digs beside the Top O’ The Rock store in Eugenia just 7 kms south of Kimberley, along Grey Road 13. While the winery no longer makes its fare in the historic old building in Beaver Valley, Nielsen hopes that his new location will be more accessible for customers in the larger, more populated communities of Grey Highlands.
According to Nielson, there is a simple recipe for making high quality affordable wines. “We offer only the finest quality juices available,” he said. “Then I give 100% of myself to every customer 100% of the time.” Nielsen helps people through every step of the process with exceptional knowledge and uncompromising patience. It also helps that he absolutely loves his job.
Nielson cites his “amazingly supportive wife and two great, little girls” for keeping that love alive. His family, their 50-acre hobby farm and the winemaking business keep a constant smile on his face and a busy skip in his step.
Over 30 medals have been accredited to the Grist Mill Winery team since 2008. The business has provided quality, economical wine since 1998, with a motto “better wine makes better friends." Driven to continue the award winning ways he was taught, Dane looks forward to helping his customers stock their cellar and make their occasions special. He only uses Winexpert as a source for the quality wines he offers and backs up every purchase with a 100% taste satisfaction guarantee.
"Some of the best valued red wines at the Grist Mill are Amarone, Brunello and Barolo, three of Italy’s top rated wines which would fetch a price of $40 or more per bottle at your local liquor store,” said Nielsen.
Grown in the hills of the Valpolicella region, Amarone grapes are typically picked a bit later in the season to ensure ripeness and are left all winter to dry, losing 30 to 40% of their weight which results in an intense concentration of flavour and a very high sugar content. It’s an investment of time that translates into higher prices at the LCBO.
Brunello, short for Brunello di Montalcino; and Barolo wines are highly-sought-after Italian reds whose grapes are grown in the Tuscany and Piedmont regions, respectively. Both wines have astringent tannins, making them rich in taste and they pair well with food, especially grilled meat and game. As with Amarone, these wines can be produced in-house for only $229 for a 30 bottle batch.
“Pinot Grigio is the most popular white wine,” Nielson added, “followed by Sauvignon Blanc and the Rieslings.” But the Grist Mill also carries a variety of fruit wines for a sweeter taste. “Any wine can be made sweeter by adding sugar to the batch after the fermentation process,” he explained, noting that wines can be custom made to order, satisfying all preferences.
"One thing is certain,” exclaimed Nielsen. “You’ll love the taste of your finished wine!”
The Grist Mill Winery is open from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday to Saturday.
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