Women Cheers at Holland Marsh Wineries

Four Generations of Wine Makers: Family Matters at Holland Marsh Winery

Posted : July 12, 2023

Our blog is chock full of great ideas for fun things to see and do in York Durham and Headwaters. We are always adding new content and updating old posts, but sometimes you might stumble upon something from our vault. If this article has inspired you to hit the road, be sure to double-check that the featured stops in this post are still welcoming visitors.

Taking the time to slow down and connect with people we care about the most is an important thing we often forget to do. With all of the busyness of the day-to-day, we sometimes need the reminder to slow down and take it all in.

If you’re looking for an idyllic place to slow down and reconnect with those you love over delicious food and award-winning wines, then Holland Marsh Wineries is just the place to do it.

Holland Marsh Wineries
Grapes
Front Doors at Holland Marsh

Holland Marsh Wineries is in the northern part of King Region. For nearly 20 years, owner Roland Nersisyan and his sons Narek and Norie have become something like modern day pioneers in this emerging wine region along the 44th parallel.

Narek and Norie are now fourth-generation grape growers, and along with their entire family, they take their commitment to the land, their wine and connecting with their guests to heart.

FAMILIAL BEGINNINGS

Holland Marsh itself began with a dream to reconnect with old family traditions. Narek and Norie’s great-grandfather was a grape grower many years ago in Armenia, one of the oldest winemaking regions in the world.

In the mid-2000’s, Roland was looking into finding land to grow grapes in various parts of Ontario. He nearly settled on a property in Niagara, when he came across a plot of land with a small carrot and onion farm that he was taken with in York Region.

Roland ended up buying the farm in 2007, and hasn’t looked back since.

Women Cheers at Holland Marsh Wineries

CONNECTING WITH THEIR HISTORY & SURROUNDINGS AT HOLLAND MARSH WINERIES

Since the Nersisyan family had to work so hard to overhaul the property, they have a deep appreciation for the land it sits on. The logo at Holland Marsh Wineries is the sun, since it gives life to everything they grow, and as an appreciation to the sun for helping them get back all they’ve put in over the years.

Holland Marsh Wineries Wine Glass

The natural surroundings of the Holland Marsh are also essential to farming in the region. The marsh has some of the most fertile land for growing in Ontario, and the winery is surrounded by hills on either side of it, creating a “bowl” geological formation, ideal for growing grapes. The wetlands of the marsh create extra climate control for wine production, making it warmer than Prince Edward County, but cooler than Niagara.

The Nersisyans began planting their first grapes in the late 2000’s. They planted Pinot Grigio, Baco Noir and Gamay grapes in the vineyards, adding new vines each year. Today, their politely[1]sized vineyard packs such a punch when it comes to producing exceptional wine.

One of the distinct qualities that sets wine production apart at Holland Marsh Wineries is their commitment to honoring their roots. Whereas many wineries source their oak barrels from more “famous” wine producing regions in Western Europe, often times the oak comes from Eastern Europe.

Barrels of Wine

At Holland Marsh, they’ve gone straight to the source. All of their oak barrels are from the Balkans and the South Caucasus. They buy them directly from Hungary, Bulgaria and Armenia, ensuring that the suppliers are supported directly.

THE NEXT GENERATION OF WINEMAKERS

When asked about the early days of Holland Marsh, Narek Nersisyan remembers them well. He was a teenager who had every interest in hanging out with friends on weekends, and doing anything but till the land of his dad’s newly purchased farm.

Looking back on it now, Narek laughs. Like so many young people, he had every intention of steering away from the family business, and thought he’d end up in finance or even a venture of his own. But after trying his hand in a few different sectors and attending business school in his twenties, it wasn’t long before he realized that making his way back to the family winemaking business was his true calling.“If you don’t love it, you’re not going to do well,” he says about his decision.

It’s very clear that Narek and Norie love the winemaking business. Narek dove in headfirst, getting his sommelier license, and bringing his keen attention to taste and detail to the forefront of winemaking at Holland Marsh. It’s clear that wine and the experience guests have at Holland Marsh is something he takes a lot of pride in.

Another focus of the Nersisyan family is to take the pretension out of wine. If “uncomplicated” was their slogan, then they deliver it in spades. They want their guests to have a carefree experience when it comes to visiting the winery, tasting wines, exploring the grounds and enjoying some of their grab and go delicacies on offer. This casual approach to ensuring guests don’t feel hassled is refreshing in the wine world.

HOW YOU CAN DISCONNECT TO RECONNECT AT HOLLAND MARSH WINERY

There are so many ways to disconnect from the day-to-day and reconnect with the ones you love at Holland Marsh. Depending on how much time you have to spend at the winery, there’s a way to disconnect for everyone.

Holland Marsh Wineries

It would be a shame if you visited the winery and didn’t keep an eye out for a few of their select wines. Their Cabernet Merlot and Chardonnay are both aged in pure Armenian oak barrels, paying an homage to their family roots.

The showstopper is their 2016 Reserve Merlot, which was not only the first of their wines to win an award, but it took the gold at the All-Canadian Wine Competition. It’s the only Ontario merlot to ever win, since most well-known Canadian merlots are from British Columbia.

Aside from tasting these special wines, here are a few more ways to connect at Holland Marsh:

An Impromptu Drop-In at the Tasting Bar

If you’re looking to sample wines during a visit to Holland Marsh, you can come to their Tasting Bar without a reservation any time from 9:30am to 6pm on weeknights, and 7pm on weekends. Samples are offered individually, and you can choose from as many of the wines as you’d like.

Tasting Bar

The fee for each individual tasting is waived if you purchase a bottle from the shop, so it’s a great excuse to stock up on a few wines to bring home.

Book a Winery Tour and Tasting in Advance

If you’re looking for a more detailed and official tasting experience, then you can book a tour ahead of your visit. There are two types of tours offered at the winery. The Boutique Tour and Tasting takes you on a guided walk through the winery and vineyard grounds, followed by a tasting in their Tasting Room.

Women Cheers at Holland Marsh Wineries

The Enhanced Tour and Tasting offers everything from the boutique tour, but dives deeper into the properties and characteristics of the wine, including the ideal type of stemware to use for different varietals, and bite sized pairings to go along with each tasting.

Enjoy an Al Fresco Picnic on the Grounds

Holland Marsh may not have a formal restaurant, but their casual al fresco dining experiences make it all the better. Their grab and go charcuterie boxes are made with delectable cheeses, meats, and preserves from different local markets and small businesses. They change with the seasons, and are the perfect pairing with a glass of wine on the grounds.

On Saturdays and Sundays, they also offer pizza on their patio. They have two types of wood fired pizzas: Classic Margherita and Spicy Calabrese. Their pizzas are made with Italian flour and local ingredients, and they even use wood from the vineyard to fire up the pizza oven.

Holland Marsh Wineries
Pizza at Holland Marsh

Whether you plan on connecting over pizza or charcuterie with someone, there are so many different places to sit and relax on the property. While the patio might be the obvious choice, there’s a pond at the winery with several different sitting areas and tables to enjoy it. You could even bring a picnic blanket to relax on the grass.

Become a Member to Enjoy Holland Marsh at Home

Holland Marsh also has an excellent membership program for those looking to find more excuses to bring their wines into their home all year round. Their wines aren’t available at the LCBO, so ordering their wines to be shipped to you, or visiting the winery to grab some yourself is a must.

When you become a member, you’ll receive 4 shipments of wine throughout the year, and you’ll even get a charcuterie box delivered to enjoy with your wines, too.

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