Looking for a getaway over the weekend? Try visiting the Muskokas where there’s lots to see & do. Here’s something you might not have thought of….be sure to visit Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh & Muskoka Lakes Winery. On our fall getaway, my husband & I hit a spot of bad weather & were drowned in over 100 mm of rain, which meant that our planned golf games were cancelled – greens were flooded, beaver dams were giving way there was water everywhere!
The marsh is open year round and offers a fascinating walking tour that provides a great education into the production of cranberries, one of Canada’s few native fruits. No, they don’t grow in water.
The ideal cranberry marsh is dug from a peat-based soil with a stream or river nearby. The woody vines, growing low to the ground, are systematically flooded in spring to discourage insects and disease, then the berries grow dry through the summer, with the marsh flooded once again in the fall to float the berries for harvest.
Orville Johnston, who studied agriculture at my alma mater, McGill University, dreamed of a thriving cranberry industry, so he bought ideal land in the Muskokas and dug the first marsh in the late 1950s. His son, Murray, also studied agriculture (at Guelph University) and to this day carries on the cranberry marsh tradition with his family.
Murray and his wife (her family owned Gooderham and Worts Distillery and her fascination with wine led her to train as a sommelier) established Muskoka Lakes Winery in 2000, with a goal ‘to take locally grown fruit and use traditional methods to craft artisanal wine.’ Their Cranberry and Cranberry Blueberry wines, as well as the Red Maple dessert wine have won awards at the Canadian Wine Championships, and are available at the LCBO.
Cool Cranberry Wines
Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Wine 2013
Canada $15.95 (609701) 9.5% alcohol
Off-dry and fruit forward, this wine is true to its source, with aromas and flavours of lively fresh cranberry. Fermented in stainless to showcase the fruit, it’s light-medium bodied, tangy in texture and zesty through the refreshing finish. With turkey, of course!!
Muskoka Lakes Cranberry Blueberry Wine 2013
Canada $16.95 (609719) 10.5% alcohol
Equal proportions of cranberries and local wild blueberries are fermented together to produce a tangy, off-dry wine that offers a silky texture and fine berry aromas and flavours. It’s crisp and lively, the sweet fruit persisting on the palate, elusive notes of dried herbs and nut lingering on the finish. Slightly chilled this wine is a pleasant sipper but also a great match for roast turkey or chicken.
Muskoka Lakes Red Maple 2012
Canada $23.95 (50039) 15.0% alcohol (375ml)
A fortified wine, this dessert treat adds maple syrup to the cranberry wine after fermentation. The fruit shines through, with interesting notes of smoke, earth and spice. Lush and sweet, it’s fresh in texture, the purity of the cranberry and its zesty acidity shining through. A great marriage of the mouth-filling sweetness of maple and the crisp tartness of cranberry. Enjoy with a chocolate dessert.
Cheers & Enjoy these Muskoka Lakes cranberry wines!